By Abigail Jabines, Solar Generation Coordinator
After walking 3 days under the scorching sun for the Chang(e) Caravan,
I am welcoming the thunder storm that is raging while we seek shelter
under the roof of a Buddhist temple at Nakhonratchasima Province in
For 15 days, I am part of a team led by Greenpeace that is traveling
250 kilometers through Thailand with 5 majestic Asian elephants from
Khao Yai National Park, a world heritage site, to Bangkok, in time for
the preparation meeting of the United Nations climate change summit
that begins in the end of the month.
Along the route of the Chang(e) Caravan, the team and I visit schools
and communities to share stories on how climate change threatens
people and the environment. We are also raising a challenge to US
President Obama and other world leaders to follow the examples of
simple citizens from Southeast Asia who decided to be part of the
solution to climate change.
One of these inspiring individuals is Um, a fourth-year student of
Silapakorn University in Petchaburi.
Like everybody in the Chang(e) Caravan, Um has a task at hand to make
sure that things runs smoothly. As part of the team that provide the
needs of the elephants, she cleans up after the stars of the show --
this means she’s responsible for shoveling elephant dung to the side
of the road!
According to Dr. Alongkot Chukeaw from the Thai Elephant Research and
Conservation Fund, Um is taking on an important task as it maintains
cleanliness while enriching the soil, as these pachyderms eat at least
2,000 kinds of vegetation.
This task is also back-breaking, especially when the 5 elephants decide
to relieve themselves at the same time. But Um is taking on her role
with dedication! Her enthusiasm for the Chang(e) Caravan is still the
same as when I first met her a day before the launch while we cleaned
the tank that now holds the water used to spray the elephants with
when their body gets to warm while walking under the sun.
As a youth, Um has managed to juggle her passion for environmental
activism and studies. She's an active volunteer of Greenpeace - Solar
Generation (www.solargeneration.org) and is currently the top student
of her university major which is Community Development.
Like Um, US President Obama is also at the top of his class. And with
this power comes great responsibilities. As a world leader, he can
break the deadlock on climate action and deliver on the “change” he
The time is ticking Mr. President – the world needs you to take
leadership on climate action by personally attending the United
Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December and force decisions
that will “change” the shape of humanity’s future.