Announcing a new collecting project and inviting your contributions to Extreme Weather Stories.
Earlier this year the UK suffered the wettest February on record, and many communities were battered with storms and floods. Then along came the Covid-19 emergency, absorbing all news and attention and the stories of those still suffering the impacts of floods were forgotten.
This pandemic comes as a result of the Ecological Emergency, which paradoxically has also been neglected alongside a focus on the Climate Emergency. The destruction of wild environments and the consumption of wild animals have led to ‘zoonotic spillover’ of diseases, and various factors of our harmful way of life have worsened the spread and impacts of the virus.
That said, since the start of the pandemic, the Climate Emergency has dropped off the media radar. There has been a wealth of online events and articles from the environmental movement, asking ‘where climate action now?’ and ‘how can this be an opportunity to green our world?’. But this has not been reflected in mainstream media. And what is completely lost is the experience of people (and other species) bearing the brunt of extreme weather, which continues to worsen throughout this year. The UK weather since March has been unbroken heat and drought, celebrated as gorgeous, but it is extremely worrying. We are not hearing from farmers, forest or waterways stewards or water companies concerned about drought.
This is serious. If the impacts of climate breakdown are not reported in ways that are both scientific and humanistic, there is less likelihood of a transformative response. There is likely to be less research to understand and quantify the impacts of extreme weather. For example, a report published in the Lancet shows that deaths due to extreme heat over the past 11 years in Australia have been misattributed to other causes, such that they may be over 50 times greater than reported.
More seriously, if the reporting of extreme weather impacts fails to express the injustices, voices and emotions involved, the information will slide over without connecting. Bangladesh experienced its worst storm this century, with super cyclone Amphan. There have been some mentions in the news but almost no human stories. Preparation and evacuation did help reduce deaths, but there is much suffering and destruction, and this will not be a one-off event. It also has impacts on the more-than-human world, as this massive storm has damaged the Sundarbans forest reserve, home to many protected species. (And destruction of forests leads to more zoonotic pandemics.)
Museums can help fill the gaps in honouring and sharing the voices of people experiencing extreme weather. We in Climate Museum UK want to help fill that gap, so we invite your articles, poems, diary entries, photographs and artworks, which can shared as blogposts on this Medium publication. You will find three stories here already, from three people writing about the impacts of flooding.
You might have been directly affected by an extreme weather event, or have interviewed someone who has been. You might be concerned about future impacts of extreme weather in vulnerable places. You might be reflecting on past events that have affected your community, or a place you know well. You might be working in areas such as climate adaptation, direct aid and environmental stewardship.
If you would like to contribute an Extreme Weather Story, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org We can edit and post the story for you. Please include a very short biography (1-2 sentences) and at least one image that you have the right to share. Text can be shared with us in a Google or Word document, for example. We may not publish everything we receive, and we currently do not have funding to reimburse contributions.
Please share this post on social media, using the hashtag #ExtremeWeatherStories