Perspectives from the frontlines of climate change

Voices from the future: an introduction

What would you do if a wildfire burned down your neighborhood or a life-threatening hurricane caused flooding that washed away your house? How would you respond in the midst of a cataclysmic weather event? In the ensuing aftermath, how would it affect your thinking and change the way you live your life? How would it shape your vision of the future?

In the following pages, you can read the stories of nearly three dozen survivors of extreme climate-related weather events in the U.S and in five continents around the world. Taken together, they have faced fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought and more. Not only will you learn what happened and how they responded, you can gain insight into how these experiences have affected their lives and their visions of the future.

Recognizing that our planet will face an increasing number and increasing intensity of extreme weather events in the years and decades ahead, many of us are likely to personally endure one or more of these challenges. The people in this special report share their pictures of this future, based on hard-earned personal experience. They offer their Voices from the Future.

Please visit our project partners at The New Republic to read an overview article about the Voices of the Future project and a collection of these stories as part of a dedicated section.

Explore the voices from the future

Learn more about the various climate event experiences from people around the world through one of these three lenses:

Featured voice

The thousand-year flood

The Event: The 2016 West Virginia flood— considered a 1,000-year natural event with a 0.1 percent probability of happening in any given year — ravaged Greenbrier Valley residents on June 23. Torrential rain and thunder, rising 10 to 12 inches in 12 hours, turned quiet creeks into flash floods that ran down steep hills, alleyways and streets washing away roads, houses and entire neighborhoods. Twenty- three people lost their lives, including a 14-year-old girl.

Ronnie Scott returned home from high a school basketball game in White Sulphur Springs, part of Greenbrier Valley, to the house he built by hand for his family.

“I heard the thunder and [saw the] lightning all day,” Scott says.

Read their full story