Imagine having to walk six hours for a drink of water. Or being surrounded by so much rising water your ancestral homeland is sinking before your eyes. The main problem with climate change is water, says Kristie Ebi, a public health and toxicology expert with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Too much, too little, wrong place, wrong time.”
Rich nations produce the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming, yet the effects are felt most in the poorest parts of the world. The impact is especially hard on women, who often grow the food, find the water and gather the firewood. at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this month, representatives from 192 countries will meet to hammer out a new plan for curbing emissions. meanwhile, the women most affected by global warming are leading the way in adapting to it—sometimes making a change as basic as raising ducks in- stead of chickens, so their food supply can swim instead of drowning the next time there’s a flood. These five women never expected to be facing these issues at this stage of their lives. But they’re adapting to the challenge with courage and grace. and you can help.