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Open Access Publications from the University of California

El Nino: Winds of Change


When the winds of change blow and the oceans churn in acquiescence, El Nino can leave a trail of destruction across the Pacific Ocean and beyond. It is a climate phenomenon that impacts lives, livelihoods and biodiversity all around the world, and its wide-ranging impact illustrates clearly the interconnectedness of the global climate system. And if El Nino, a natural event, can cause such devastation, what more harm can human-driven climate change cause? These thoughts eventually led me to develop this Capstone project, focusing on climate communication through the lens of El Nino. Awareness is, after all, the first step toward climate action. And as a journalist, it is my job to help raise this awareness, and draw links between how climate science can inform policy and save lives. For this project, I traced the footsteps of El Nino across the Pacific Ocean, interviewing people and policy-makers living in places where the impacts of El Nino are hardest felt. Some shared stories of love and loss. Others spoke of hope, and ways of safeguarding lives and species from the harshest impacts of climate change. In this publication, Straits Times photojournalist Mark Cheong and I bring you their stories from Indonesia and the Galapagos Islands, two archipelagos across the Pacific Ocean that are hard hit by the impacts of El Nino. It is our hope that these tales would prompt you to think more about global climate change, and the individual’s role in bending the emissions curve.

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