Students and professors from the University of Montana learn about how people are dealing with life and livelihoods under dynamic conditions

The Climate Change Challenge

January 16, 2011

Story by Hailey Graf

Photos by Kevin Radley

The motto of Vietnam is “Independence- Freedom- Happiness.”  And, this country has fought for these ideals throughout history.  The Vietnamese people have repeatedly faced war, famine, and economic crisis.  Only in the last 30 years has Vietnam known peace and prosperity.  After all these trials, how can Vietnam face the possible devastation of climate change?

Vietnam, especially the Mekong Delta, is flat and low-lying.  With the expected one meter sea lever rise, much of their current coastline will to disappear.  Thousands of acres of agricultural land and homes will be lost.

Sitting on the bus, driving though Can Tho, I have a high-speed view of Vietnam.  We are passing rice fields, newly constructed buildings, markets, and schools.  I am very impressed with the people of Vietnam.  I have faith in them.  In my time here, I have seen nothing but hope in the eyes of everyone I meet.  Vietnam is a country that faces forward, embraces the future, and is not hindered by the past.  As one professor from Can Tho University told me, “Vietnamese people know how to adapt. They can face climate change.”  And, I believe him.

As climate change progresses, so will Vietnam.  They are a very adaptable and resourceful people. Vietnam has faced many challenges in its history.  Climate change is just the next challenge.  They will face it and conquer it just like all the others.

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