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  • Writer's pictureArielle Kouyoumdjian

Climate Stories from Around the Globe: Hurricane Harvey

For 11 years, I lived near the Gulf Coast and witnessed a huge natural disaster.

--Aiden Newman, 17, Colorado

In my hometown, a picturesque coastal area, we've been increasingly facing the realities of climate change. This beautiful place, once known for its serene ocean views, is now frequently dealing with the consequences of environmental changes. The rising number of storms and floods is a concern not just for us but for similar communities globally. It's more than a change in weather; it's about how it affects our lives, our local businesses, and our community's spirit. Hurricane Harvey hit us hard on the Gulf Coast, especially in Texas. It was tough for about 13 million of us, with over a million people having to leave their homes and around 200,000 homes damaged. Many of us also faced tough times with jobs and money, like losing jobs or getting lower pay.

The local businesses here, some of which have been around for generations, are deeply rooted in our town's culture. They're not just shops or services, they're part of our identity. But with the changing climate, they've been struggling. Flooding and storms disrupt everyday life, damage properties, and threaten the livelihoods of those who have invested their lives here. Despite these difficulties, there's a positive side to this. These challenges have brought our community closer. We've started seeing innovations and adaptations in response to these environmental changes. Businesses that were once at the mercy of nature are now leading the way in sustainable practices. They're making changes in how they operate, focusing on being environmentally friendly in their resource use, energy consumption, and waste management.

This shift is more than just a way to cope; it's a commitment to protecting the environment that sustains us. This change in our town is supported by some well-known theories in environmental science. One of them is the concept of resilience. It's about how systems, like our community or a business, can absorb disturbances and still maintain their core function. This resilience isn't fixed, it grows stronger with each challenge we face. Our efforts also reflect the idea of sustainable development. This concept, put forward by the United Nations, talks about meeting our current needs without compromising future generations' ability to meet theirs. It's about finding a balance between economic growth, social inclusion, and protecting the environment. What we're doing here, in our small town, is part of this bigger global effort to build sustainable and resilient communities.

So, the story of my hometown is not just a local one; it's a small piece of a larger global puzzle. It's about how climate change affects communities and how these communities can adapt and survive. Our town's journey towards resilience and sustainability is a hopeful example for others. It shows that even small steps towards sustainability can make a big difference in the global fight against climate change. As we continue to face these environmental challenges, the adaptability and resilience of communities like mine offer a way forward and hope for the future.

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