Climate Change is About…Impacts, Causes and Consequences

Climate change is about much more than just the immediate impacts of extreme weather events. Our materials on impacts, causes and consequences in the Andean region seek to contribute to a collective understanding of the complex nature of the climate crisis and the implications it has for human society. This includes helping expose the role of corporate power in both driving the crisis and hijacking efforts to confront it. Due to its exceptional vulnerability on all fronts the region offers a fascinating lens through which to explore these dynamics, which also reflect global realities.

1. Climate change is about…impacts on our lives and planet

Climate Change is About…Water

Far too often today, the crisis of global climate change is dismissed as something abstract, distant or off in the future. The people of Bolivia do not have that luxury. In Bolivia, as in many other “early impact” nations around the world, climate change is real, immediate and urgent. Today no story from Bolivia is more urgent than how climate change is changing the country’s destiny by altering, in deep and powerful ways, its fragile relationship with water.

Whether you are a citizen or activist looking to deepen your understanding of what climate change means, or an educator or journalist looking for powerful ways to tell that story to others, we think you will find something useful in the Democracy Center’s specially-created microsite, Climate Change is About…Water.

Cambio Climático es…Hablar de Agua (VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL)

Video: Seeds of Resilience

Filmstrip graphic - Seeds of ResilienceIn the rural highlands of Bolivia, climate change is already having tangible impacts on people’s daily lives. The ability to read and adjust to natural patterns is key to livelihoods based in agriculture, and unpredictable weather events and rising temperatures are forcing communities to reevaluate their relationship with the land and what it can provide.

Following a Democracy Center research trip to Norte Potosí, Bolivia, this short documentary Seeds of Resilience tells the first in a series of stories about Bolivian climate resilience strategies.

Read more and watch the video

Read the article by project author Sian Cowman: How seed diversity strengthens climate resilience in one Andean community

“Semillas de Vida” – versión en español

Shock Absorbers: Learning from Lanqaya

IMG_2097In the Andes, rural indigenous communities have been experiencing climate change impacts for many years. This article details the experience of one community in Norte Potosí, Lanqaya. Here, warming temperatures affected the production of the community’s staple food, chuño (traditional freeze-dried potatoes), and caused the community to move location to access the colder temperatures needed. The article also details other ways that climate change has affected the community, and gives some insight into the daily life of an agricultural community vulnerable to the physical and economic impacts of climate change.

Download the resource Shock absorbers: How resilience strategies old and new help one Andean community survive in a changing climate

A Visit to the Cemetery of Glaciers

In 2009 Democracy Center researchers visited the area around Illimani. Once home to the world’s highest ski resort, Chacaltaya’s life-giving glacier has disappeared in just a few short years. In this video you can hear from the residents of Khapi, one of the communities in the vicinity threatened by the loss of their main source of water.


2. Climate change is about…the impacts of corporate power

Corporate Conquistadors: The Many Ways Multinationals Both Drive and Profit from Climate Destruction

Corporate_Conquistadors English cover image-EN-coverJust as the processes of colonization devastated territories and peoples in the search for gold, silver and labour, today’s multinational corporations offer powerful echoes of the same. They come not on horseback but by jet, speaking the language of economic growth and prosperity but touting a business model that is destructive in many of the same ways.

The Corporate Conquistadors report shows how extractive industries cause damage on the ground, drive climate change in the atmosphere – and yet are able to push their own agenda through influence over climate policy-making processes.


Find out more about the Democracy Center’s work on these issues by exploring the Corporate Power section of the website.

3. Climate change is about…the impacts of false solutions

Bolivia Climate Primers: Northern Fixes and Southern Realities

primers_coversTo help citizens to understand the key areas of climate policy debate and what they look like from a global Southern perspective, former Democracy Center researcher and climate negotiator Rebecca Hollender has written this set of three Bolivia Climate Primers. These ‘101s’ seek to help anyone who is interested get a better grasp of the basics of current policies and proposals on the table around mitigation, adaptation and climate finance, and what implications they have for Bolivia. We hope that you will find these useful, whether you are an activist, a student, a researcher, or just generally interested in the subject.

Download the Primers

Off the Market: Bolivian Forests and Struggles Over Climate Change

The Democracy Center’s report ‘Off the Market‘ connects the dots between the global debate over forest protection and the complex realities on the ground in Bolivia.

It begins with a clear and accessible explanation of the issues on an international level, and then captures many differing voices in Bolivia – community leaders in the Amazon basin, government officials, farmers, social movement leaders, and others. It moves from the halls of global institutions to the floor of the forests themselves.

Fuera del Mercado (VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL)

Read more and download the report

Bolivia and its Lithium

Underneath Bolivia’s glimmering Salar de Uyuni lies the world’s largest supply of lithium, the metal that promises to change transportation as we know it. Governments and the auto industry are investing big so that some day soon electric car owners will be able to fill up their car’s battery at an electrical socket instead of filling up their tank at a pump. As the global North looks to electric cars as one of the solutions to our growing consumption of pollution-causing fossil fuels, this report from 2010 analyses the challenges Bolivia faces in trying to escape its historic ‘resource curse’, including the very real and serious environmental impacts exploitation of lithium could have inside Bolivia.

Bolivia y su Litio (VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL)

Download the report


Articles and Blogs on Impacts, Causes and Consequences

Communicating for Change: What the Democracy Center is Trying to Do

June 2014. Communications Director Mads Ryle reflects on the place of communication within our strategy, what our aims are, and how narrative and framing plays a key role in pushing for climate action.

Climate Change is About…Water. And Education.

May 2014. Mads Ryle on our teaching resources that help educators communicate this most complex – but most elemental – of human crises.

Bolivia and Britain – A Tale of Two Floods

March 2014. Mads Ryle writing in The Ecologist about the different perspectives on climate impacts offered by simultaneous flooding in Bolivia and the UK, and the need for effective narratives to spur support for climate action.

The Purposely Confusing World of Energy Politics (Getting Action, Richard Heinberg, Feb 2014)

TPP – Power to the Corporations at the Expense of the Planet (The Ecologist, Thomas Mc Donagh, Feb 2014)

Two Energy Futures (Getting Action, Ruthi Brandt, Nov 2013)

Climate Adaptation: Saviour or False Hope? (New Internationalist, Ben Castle, Dec 2012)

We Have to Be on Guard About False Solutions to Climate Change (Alternet, Ben Castle, Nov 2012)

Looking Back with Fears for the Future

As climate impacts worsen globally, the DC team who did the field reserach for our Climate Change is About…Water project reflect on their interactions with the communities they met.

Will ‘Green Economics’ Help Save the Environment or Just Sell it Off to Corporations? (Alternet, Jim Shultz, June 2012)

Will Programs to Off-Set Carbon Emissions Fuel Further Conflict in Bolivia’s Forests? (Alternet, Kylie Benton-Connell, Nov 2011)

Latin America finds a voice on climate change (NACLA, Jim Shultz, July 2010)

A visit to the cemetery of glaciers (Democracy Center staff, Dec 11 2009)

Bolivia – Ecological Paradise (Jim Shultz, Dec 9 2009)

Climate Reporting from Across the Web

Useful climate reporting and content aggregation sites:


Center for Investigative Reporting

Climate Connections

Climate Desk

Climate Voices

Green Futures


Guardian Environment

Guardian Environment Network

Mother Jones

Yale 360

Yes! Magazine



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