Travel to Bangladesh, South Africa, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, and Barbuda to discover how low-income families experience climate change, through a new comic based on research from ACDI researcher Gina Ziervogel along with Gemma Sou and Adeeba Nuraina Risha.
Given the increasing news stories about climate change, it is useful to have different mediums to communicate related research and realities about living with climate change. Comics can act as a new and engaging way of communicating difficult subject matter.
Comic authors Gemma Sou, Adeeba Nuraina Risha and Gina Ziervogel recognised the need for engaging formats and developed a new comic which looks at the everyday stories of climate change. Illustrated by the talented Cat Sims, the comic is based on current research and the reader travels to five countries to explore the everyday ways that low-income families experience climate change.
“I really enjoyed working on this comic, both in terms of thinking how to convey our research in a different manner and seeing the creative product emerge that gets the message across in a different way” explains Gina Ziervogel.
The stories shine a light on some of the overlooked and ‘mundane’ impacts of climate change for those who are often left to shoulder much of the responsibility to adapt and recover. While all the stories are based on primary research the characters are fictionalised, but their stories reflect some of the shared experiences of the people the authors spoke to.
The South African story draws on research from the CoReCT (Community resilience in Cape Town) project. This project, funded by AXA Resarch Fund, is led by African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) researchers Gina Ziervogel and Johan Enqvist. They teamed up with the Western Cape Water Caucus (WCWC) with the aim to conduct a study to support the WCWC’s work that aims to improve conditions in communities, support its members to learn how to do “citizen science”, and to produce qualified and relevant research. In reflecting on the comic, Gina said, “It is really great to have a comic as a way to share the research we have been doing on challenges people face trying to resolve water service issues in Cape Town and what is was like during the Day Zero drought. It gives local texture and a personal story to the research that is missing from academic papers.”
Developing the comic was an iterative process, with a number of conversations between the three authors. Gemma led the work and had experience developing a previous comic https://gemmasou.com/creative-research/. Gemma provided insight into the type of script that might work – with a focus on keeping text short and to the point. The authors then worked with the graphic artist, Cat, to create something that everyone felt happy with.
When Cat was asked how working on an academic project differs to a more commercial project she said, “This project required a lot more collaboration than a commercial project and required all parties to input into the production of the comic. The most challenging aspect for me as the artist was rendering the research in an arresting visual narrative form, not just in order to tell the story, but to engage the reader and accurately communicate the facts found in the authors’ research.”
Figure 1: Two pages from the South African story – download the full version to read the rest
Although this comic might be of interest to a broad audience of concerned citizens, one of the main target audiences is high school students. Teaching young learners the realities of climate change can be challenging. Increasingly schools need better support to help meet different interests and concerns from students. So it is hoped that high school teachers and learners will use this comic as they see fit, whether to reflect on different countries’ experiences, to interrogate climate justice or unpack how social and political dynamics are central to understanding climate vulnerability and adaptation. The comic is free for anyone to download and share. Additionally the comic authors in association with the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria have created a teaching resource which can be viewed here and hopefully prompt teachers in other countries to develop location-specific resources.
“We hope it [the comic] provides engaging material that gives insight into some of the daily challenges of living with climate impacts that complements some of the more technical learning materials that are currently available,” explains Gina Ziervogel.
Download the comic here for free (20.5 MB)
Read more about the comic in an article from The Conversation highlighting some of the topics in the comic and why comics are useful for teaching.