How The Paris Climate Talks Can Help Displacement

This is a link to a National Geographic article on the struggles caused by a lack of rain in the Wayuu community of Columbia, and how the upcoming climate talks in Paris could possibly help these people and others in similar situations.


The author, Autumn Spanne, uses the people of the Wayuu community to show that climate change is not just an issue that will affect future generations like some people think, it is affecting people right now. Spanne incorporates various stories from those affected by the displacement to humanize the issue. There are a variety of pictures of Wayuu and its inhabitants and a video incorporated through the article, as well as an interactive map showing how the climate issues in Columbia vary by region. Spanne makes a point that the displacement that is occurring can and should be addressed in Paris at the climate talks starting November 30th, but not much more is said.


What did you guys think about the lede in this article? What made it successful, or could it be improved in anyway? Spanne used a variety of visual elements in her article, did you think it added to the story, or was it overwhelming and unnecessary? Finally, did you think that there was enough of a focus on how the climate talks in Paris could help this issue?


12 Responses to “How The Paris Climate Talks Can Help Displacement”

  1. I think that the lede was very captivating because it made such a great use of the human element, talking about someone who is directly affected by the problem of climate change and water scarcity. The descriptive language of the lede and the picture at the top also really transported me into the scene.

    I think that while the pictures that she used, especially the top picture and the photo of the woman drawing muddy water from a well, were very well done, they took away from the story because there were so many to look at. It may have been better if there were fewer pictures and graphs to look at and to distract the reader with.

    I also was very interested to learn what they hoped would be accomplished at the talks in Paris, and what would be addressed. However, because the author was focused mainly on the conditions that the people of Columbia live in and the problems that they face, the solutions may be something to talk about in a different article. While I believe that the talks could have been written about more than they were, I think that the article was fine without expanding too much on them. That being said, the title lead me to believe that the article would focus mainly on the climate talks and how they could help the people of Columbia, and when there was only a small mention of the topic, I was a bit confused.

  2. I think this lede was so captivating because it did a great job using the human element in a story about politics and climate change. People tend to be more attentive or even responsive to a problem when there are faces that come with the story. I think this is because it makes it easier to relate or empathize. I think the use of the human element in this lede in particular was very successful and strategic, since climate change tends to be a topic easily written off by a lot of people because it seems like some abstract idea that is far away and has little impact on our day to day lives (even though that isn’t necessarily true!)

  3. I really appreciated this article very much. It was extremely effective at humanizing the issue of climate change, and depicting it as a problem that we are currently facing, not one that is far in the future for future generations to deal with. I think that incorporating the Paris Climate Talks was a very nice way to make the article reliant. I like how rather than focusing on the talks, the author used them as a timely hook to bring people into the article, and then focused mainly on the plight of the Wayúu.

    I found the visual media to be very effective. I especially appreciated the video because I felt like I got a deeper sense of what it would be like to live where these people do. Something about hearing the sounds and seeing the wind sweep across the desert made the article feel more real to me. Especially for an article which is trying to have you to experience a situation you have probably never even been close to before it is good to have a lot of different media.

  4. The lede didn’t do a lot for me. It was good that there was a human character in it, but I thought the description in the second paragraph of the woman losing her daughter and fearing for the life of the second if she doesn’t have clean water to be more powerful.
    However I thought the first few sentences of the nut graph were very good, stating the problem and giving a couple key statistics. I thought the visual aids were helpful, not overwhelming. I liked the inclusion of the graphs because they put the issue in geographic perspective–which is fitting for a migration discussion. I also liked the pictures of residents of the Wayúu.

    It seems the point of the article is 1. climate change is amplifying the effects of poverty and malnutrition in the Wayúu, and 2. the issue of climate-related migration. However, the article did not do a great job at including the people of the Wayúu’s perspective on the issue of migration. The connection to the Paris Climate Talks is that the article is pushing the inclusion of climate-migration in the Paris outcome. The article seemed like a case study to include in the discussion surrounding the Paris talks. I think it was clear what the purpose of the article was throughout, and the author did not need to discuss the climate talks in more depth.

  5. I feel the lede was strong, but I feel you all have not really talked about the kicker, which I found to be even stronger.

    The kicker very nicely, expanded the story to the future, “”We no longer know what’s going to happen.” But this is done on multiple levels and sub-levels.

    Diplomatically, it is talking about the Paris talks. We don’t know the outcome of these talks. Will they be successful? Or just kick the can down the road like previous ones?

    Globally, how will climate change continue to affect the planet? We just don’t know. I find that very sobering.

    More locally, this story is talking about how the Wayúu’s future is uncertain from experts’ perspectives, but also how culturally, the Wayúu themselves don’t know what’s going to happen. They have lost/are losing a key aspect of their culture (the dream interpreters).

    I just think the many layers of this kicker make it fantastic.

  6. I found the lead to be compelling since it included included a scene, a story, and a human that we could relate to but I also found it to be scattered and distracting.

    Immediately after introducing the scene, we are made aware of Pushaina’s young age, and the loss of her child. This is a jarring situation of culture shock. She is only 17, yet she lost a son two years ago. While she lost her son because of the intense droughts – the focus of the article – I can’t help but think about how different her roles in life are from mine. It would be odd if this detail wasn’t included in the article, but I think including it early on is distracting even if it is the most appropriate place to include it.

    Additionally, I found that the quotes that were bolded and placed in a larger font before and after some paragraphs were distracting as well. They did not immediately pertain to the neighboring paragraphs yet did not appear to lead me into a new direction of the story either. While the quotes were interesting and compelling, they disrupted the flow of the story.

    I thought the pictures and infographics were useful – it’s nice to break up the text with diagrams such as these. Many of the photos did allow us a glimpse into the lives of Wayuu community.

    Lastly, I didn’t find the kicker to be as engaging as others. The detail about the Wayuu relying on their elders as dream interpreters is certainly interesting and serves to show us how the community is losing important members due to climate change. However, I think the last line is not especially impressive because it lacks relatability. Arico Pushaina is concerned that they no longer know what’s going to happen – it just makes me wonder if they ever really did know.

  7. Personally, I found the lede to be quite striking. It certainly grabs the reader into the story and makes them want more. However, I feel as though reading the article without a title, I would not at all guess that the title of the article would incorporate the Paris climate talks. There is barely any discussion about the climate talks and almost none about how what is said at the talks could help the people in the story. Additionally, I feel as though framing the people in the article as “a world away” is a bit othering. It is a problem we all need to work on together, and making these people seem like a difference species is not an effective way to rally change on the issue in Western societies.

  8. I thought the lede was striking and a very clear example of the type of journalism we are learning about and striving towards. By including a scene and a character so easy to care about, then vividly describing them, the author pulled me into the article and made me care not only about Pushaina, but about all of the people of Wayu’u.

    I also think it was very effective to present this clear narrative about the costs of climate change that are occurring now, and not in the far off future, so close to the Paris Climate Talks. This will help make people care about the issue, and hopefully realize the wide-reaching current affects of climate change.

    I loved the pictures, and although there was quite a few of them, I would not have taken any away, because they really added to the humanistic angle of the story.

    It was interesting that Jacob mentioned the kicker, because the kicker also stood out to me, although for different reasons. I thought it was an interesting but not very effective kicker, because it touched on an aspect of the Wayu’u’s culture that had not really been mentioned throughout the article and took away from the larger message of the story. A clearer connection to the Paris talks would’ve been more effective.

  9. I also thought the lede was engaging and created strong emotional support for the piece. The photos of the Wayuu people were also effective in humanizing an article about a relatively scientific and political topic. In addition, the maps and graphs provided useful information for any readers not familiar with the topic. However, I thought the piece’s biggest disadvantage was in its structure and organization. The photos and graphs could have been placed next to more relevant paragraphs. Based on the title, I expected the author to delve into the Paris Climate talks sooner. There was not a clear nut graph, and the article took too long to connect the plight of the Wayuu people with the Paris talks. I felt like this article could been better if its main focus was talking about how climate change affected their village. It then could have delved into the potential implications of the Paris talks at the end.

  10. While I found the lede and overall human story of this article to be engaging and empathetic, I also felt like details about the Paris Climate Talks were lacking. Specifically, the article didn’t touch on what might be proposed at the talks that could make a difference to the people in the article. In this way, the headline was misleading. It capitalized on a current event to tell an ongoing story. But it also left me constantly anticipating when the Paris Climate Talks would be discussed as a solution. I think that the article should have stood on its own with passing mention of the talks. The kicker also felt weak because I anticipated that it would emphasize the importance of the talks in changing the lives of people affected by persistent drought. Instead, it ended with a quote about losing cultural traditions as people move away, which unfortunately matters less to many Americans than the loss of lives.

    Also, the visual elements, including photos and maps, were well-placed throughout the article and paced its reading by breaking up sections. I’ve never personally understood why layouts will visually emphasize a quote after it has been written. I feel like the emphasis should occur in the first instance; afterward, it feels redundant.

  11. I thought that the lede was extremely effective in introducing a compelling story about this village in Columbia and how climate change has affected this region. However, I thought that both the lede and the story in general were missing information about how the Paris talks relate to this, which is what I assumed the story would be about after I read the title. The piece was powerful and well-written. I found myself very emotionally connected to the story of the woman in the lede. However, I didn’t feel like I got a lot of information about how the climate changes in Paris might or might not help their plight.

    The visuals were helpful to me as I read the story. It assisted in humanizing the piece, and making readers empathize with those people who have been so drastically affected by the changing climate.

  12. I definitely agree with the praise for this article: the lede is powerful, the pictures are powerful, the human elements are powerful, the details about the breast milk are powerful. I especially liked how National Geographic bolded certain powerful quotes. Overall, a great flyer for a human rights campaign.

    However, in terms of journalism, I thought the story was lacking. It’s the kind of article that’s going to pull on the heartstrings of already-humanitarian-minded people wishing the world was a better place, while giving them nothing but fear, sadness, and zero solutions or ways to help. It lacked an appeal to the scientific community, as it oversimplified technologies and ‘solutions’ while not committing fully to the science of solar or the climate patterns that have been observed. And the article certainly doesn’t appeal to logic, to the people in government who might not see the economic benefits of helping these people; it could have gone into how their plight is coming to Wall Street (CA drought, costs of immigration, etc.) or how it could make countries look good to stand with these indigenous people.

    Overall, I felt for these people, I hurt with these people, I saw their suffering — and then I saw no solutions, no call to action, no suggestions. It came across as an NGO website more than a news article. While informative, and deeply saddening, something was lacking. And the title…Not only does it alienate these people “a world away” but also misleads the readers — because Paris is hardly to be found in the article.

    I’m definitely all for more coverage of stories like these, but this was too pathos-centric with little suggestions as to what should be the now-weeping reader’s next move.

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