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Just Published: Liberty, Hope, and Climate Change

Posted on November 08, 2020

Francisco de la Mora, from "Liberty and Hope"

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has said that one of his first acts will be to re-enter the U.S. into the Paris Climate Accord. To help students understand what this might mean on both a global and an individual level, you might have them read the stories, poems, essays, and graphic literature recently published in the recent Climate issue of the magazine Words Without Borders

We especially recommend the story "Liberty and Hope," from Mexican comics creator Francisco de la Mora, translated by Words Without Borders' Nina Perrotta. The fanciful, melancholic tale features a meeting of two monuments, forced to flee their usual settings by environmental disasters. 

"I've said it before," explains the Statue of Liberty, "truth stops being true once it's manipulated . . ." 

After reading, you might have students write their own magic-tinged stories about climate, featuring conversations between entities that usually do not speak in human tongues (sea corals? wind turbines? lumps of coal?) 

Or, less fancifully, you might have students combine their reading with research into the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action. A one-minute video from the World Meteorological Organization introduces some of the key challenges involved. 

In a class discussion or assignment, you might ask students such questions as: 

  •  "Do you think the actions outlined in the goal go far enough to help avert the disasters that the story depicts? Why or why not?" 
  • "Do you think the countries of the world will meet this goal? Do you think our country will? Why or why not?" 

"Liberty and Hope" would also pair well with other stories and poems on WWB Campus:   

  1. "Do Not Tremble," a poem written during the 2011 earthquake in Japan
  2. "Dreams and Memories of a Common Man," a prose poem depicting environmental injustices in the lives of indigenous migrant workers in Mexican cities.
  3. "Riverwilt," in which Japanese poet experiences a distancing from the natural world as he enters adulthood
  4. "Memories of Chernobyl," an Egyptian doctor's memoir of Kiev during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 
Horses in Chernobyl
Horses in Chernobyl, Ukraine, 2006. By Xopc.