How climate change hurt my community – Cyriac Joseph, Rainforest Action Network

Below you will find Cyriac’s story: a look into the life of families grappling with climate change in a small Himalayan village called Pangthang and how Rainforest Action Network’s work gives hope for the future. 

When you support Rainforest Action Network, you are addressing the root causes behind climate change and the suffering and hardships experienced by communities and people, like Cyriac. 

At RAN we fight against climate change by stopping the world’s biggest banks from funding the most extreme fossil fuel extraction like fracking, and by demanding that the U.S. government #KeepItInTheGround when it comes to fossil fuels. Climate change is hurting the most vulnerable, poorest people on the planet who are often contributing least to climate change.

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My name is Cyriac, and I want to tell you the story of the small remote village I lived in the Himalayas:

Before I joined RAN, I lived for four years in a small nondescript, but beautiful, village called Pangthang in the north-eastern Himalayas. Pangthang is lush, green and known for orchids and rhododendrons and the breathtaking views it offers of the third highest peak in world Mt.Kanchendzonga. During the months of July through September, Pangthang receives the most torrential rains I have ever seen. But things are changing quickly in this very remote part of the world: as climate change is not waiting until 2100 to affect lives in Pangthang. Climate change’s impact on this idyllic mountain village is already prevalent and devastating.

Himalayan Mountains

The glacial systems of Mt.Kanchendzonga provide drinking water and irrigation to millions of people living downstream in Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

As you know, life in the Himalayas is hard. From fall to summer, while chickens, hogs and cows are busy doing what they do early in the morning, humans break out into frantic activity at exactly 7:30 AM. That is when the government water pipeline sputters to life. The community has just one hour to flush the toilets, the entire previous day’s worth of dishes are washed, meals are readied, and children are given baths — all during the short 60 minutes that the government tap reluctantly offers clean water.

You might wonder why in a place like the Himalayas that water should be a problem — every crook and bend in the mountain should have a babbling brook. Unfortunately, this is no longer true. Over the past few decades, mountain springs in the Himalayas have been drying up resulting in water scarcity that is impacting the health, productivity and living standards of the mountain people.

I joined RAN, because it goes straight to the root causes of these issues and pressures the real power behind this crisis  

  1. Corporate profit-driven destruction of crucial forests and peatswamps that absorb greenhouse gases
  2. Big Banks and Big Oil corporations that profit from keeping us dependent on fossil fuels

On both of these fronts, RAN has scored several victories every year confronting corporations that profit from the destruction of our environment — affecting the poorest and most vulnerable on our planet — be it human, orangutan or orchid. These are the economic forces that drive real human suffering, climate change, deforestation and extinction. While direct relief efforts to send plastic water bottles and dehydrated food packets to people impacted by climate change are commendable, they are inherently short term.

As you celebrate the coming new year with your families and friends, I am writing to urge you to also think of billions of people who are dependent on nature for life giving resources and who are suffering from climate change as you read this. Please consider making a generous tax-deductible gift to RAN for 2016. Your gift can help us take on corporate criminals who profit from the climate chaos they help create. Help vulnerable families across the world make it through this urgent and growing threat.

I wish you and your family the very best for coming year, as much as I do every other family in the world.

In solidarity with all life on our planet,


Cyriac Joseph

Cyriac Joseph
Membership Manager
Rainforest Action Network