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Documenting the human dimension of climate change

Professor and filmmaker Ian Mauro’s multimedia project showcases the impact on coastal communities.


The science of climate change is compelling but the real story is in the lives of the people living it, says filmmaker and Mount Allison University geography and environment professor Ian Mauro.

Dr. Mauro and his team have spent the past year documenting climate change in Atlantic Canada. The result is an online multimedia project that showcases the tangible impact global warming has had on coastal communities.

The team’s research focuses heavily on interviews with local farmers, fisherman, hunters and others who see the changing conditions. “These stewards of the land are interacting with the environment, they’re observing the environment, they have a long-term experience in it,” he says. “It’s remarkable the kind of insights they can provide.”

Dr. Mauro previously documented environmental changes in the Canadian Arctic, working with acclaimed Inuk director Zacharias Kunuk to produce Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, the first Inuktitut-language film to deal with global warming.

“As a researcher and filmmaker I’m interested in using digital media technology to collect, communicate and also conserve this knowledge about environmental change,” says Dr. Mauro. “We’re using the Internet as a platform to distribute this information to the YouTube generation.”

Dr. Mauro says the true power of the project is that it explores the human dimension of climate change by investigating the experiences of people in coastal communities. “When you put the human face on an issue that is otherwise dominated by scientists and you actually listen to what people are saying about how climate change is affecting their lives, it becomes completely undeniable that not only is climate change happening, it is something that we need to take very seriously.”

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  1. Mary Saunders / January 15, 2013 at 09:56

    Heard about this project on the CBC Halifax morning program this morning. I am 82 years old. In the 1940’s I remember my father cutting ice on Lake Milo in Yarmouth for his ice business. The ice then was at least 12 inches thick before he would cut it to store in the big buildings at the edge of the lake. He preferred 15 inch thick ice and often got it. Today, 60-70 years later, the lake very seldom skims over let alone develops ice thick enough to skate on……….

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