When you search the words ‘climate change’ online, the images are of melting glaciers, polar bears stranded on sea ice, disturbing graphics of an Earth on fire, and fossil fuel power stations. These images have come to represent climate change, but where are all the people?

Imagery and videos are a huge part of how we understand climate change, depicting some of the catastrophic impacts on our planet. In Natural History documentaries, landscapes characterised by ice – or lack thereof – usually take centre stage to tell the story of the global climate crisis – remember THAT walrus scene from Seven Worlds: One Planet?

We need everyone to feel empowered and, more importantly, included in the conversation to find solutions ’

Polar bears and pandas have become much-loved symbols with climate change and wildlife conservation, but this highlights a problem – a lack of
human stories. When humans are depicted, they’re normally politicians, scientists or activists and these images, like the polar bear, reinforce the belief that climate change is a distant problem. For us to truly grasp the urgency and complexity of climate change and its solutions, we need films and images which show importance to individuals, covering issues like the impact on food, the agricultural industry and access to clean water.

By focusing on personal stories, we can tell new narratives from new perspectives, such as the 370 million Indigenous people around the world who will be affected the most by environmental degradation and pollution. We need everyone to feel empowered and, more importantly, included in the conversation to find solutions. By moving the focus to environmental justice, community leaders who are inspiring hope on a local level will be able to take up the spotlight they rightly deserve.

Tay Aziz is a science communicator and Researcher at the BBC with a passion for the natural world. @tayaziz_

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