Nawon is one of Our Climate's fellows. She is a student at the University of Washington working towards a degree in Environmental Studies.
I was born in South Korea but lived in the Philippines for the past 10 years of my life. Having spent half of my life in the Philippines, I proudly identify with the country and call the Philippines, my second home. The Philippines is an archipelago that consists of around 7,600 islands in Southeast Asia. Ever since I was an elementary school student, the issue of climate change and global warming was a bigger issue than many other countries since people around us were directly affected by the consequences of climate change.
Every Summer, people living in the underdeveloped areas of the Philippines braced themselves to face numerous typhoons, floods, and the damages that followed such natural disasters. Over the years, typhoons have increased in both frequencies and strengths due to climate change, which led to greater damages from typhoons and floods. In some years, our schools would be canceled for days due to typhoons, because the roads in the villages would be flooded to the point where students couldn't get out of their houses. When a new semester began and students returned from their summer vacations, the campus would have numerous donation boxes ready to collect goods for those suffering from the severe damages of typhoons in the rural areas. Gathering what we have and sharing them became a part of every students' life and hundreds and thousands of our prayers were headed for our friends and relatives losing home and schools in places not so far away from where we lived. Through such experiences, I learned that the consequences of people's actions are faced by people who live not so far away from me and that I am one of the people facing the impacts of climate change. As the severity and the effects of climate changes grew each year, my perspective towards the issue along with what I wanted to pursue as a career developed and became more and more specific.
I personally learned that since so many people are facing the imminent consequences of climate change, the issue is no longer about blaming who is responsible or not, but more about bringing change as soon as possible to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change. In the first few courses that I took as an Environmental Studies major student, I learned that the most efficient methods of mitigating the effects of climate change are through the establishment and implementation of environmental policies that everyone is responsible for keeping. Furthermore, I learned that a change in one part of the globe could equally affect the lives of those on the opposite side of the world. The changing understanding and severity of the climate change established the future career I would like to pursue and who I am as a person by affecting me and the people close to me.
*Photo: Lanao del Norte in southern Philippines, December 23, 2017. REUTERS/Richel V. Umel