We’re back in the States after our family’s gap year, discovering the many ways in which life in Central America has offered us fresh perspectives. There have been some lifestyle changes–more on that in a few weeks–but today I want to focus on how living in the tropics changed my perspective on climate change. To be specific, up until this last year my concern for climate change felt pretty theoretical, but after a year in Costa Rica it feels personal and urgent.

What happened exactly?

Certainly a contributing factor was the abundant life just outside–and inside–our door in Costa Rica. Take, for example, that Monteverde alone is home to 75% the number of tree species found in the U.S. and Canada combined. I also read a book, Walking with Wolf, about a Monteverde chainsaw dealer turned conservationist, which painted a very vivid and personal account of how much the biodiversity of the cloud forest changed over the course of a single man’s lifetime. And then, of course, living in Monteverde afforded me the privilege of being surrounded by artists (pictured above), activists, and scientists, all moved to work on significant projects to stop climate change.

Perhaps most salient were the measurable indications of climate change right in our own tropical backyard. In a recent essay in Slate, I wrote about these and the other factors that helped to make climate change tangible for me this last year in Costa Rica.

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 4.25.20 PM

I hope you enjoy reading the essay and would love to hear your comments below. How has living abroad changed some of your fundamental perspectives? Or, if you are a resident of Monteverde, is there something specific or special about living in or near the cloud forest that makes you more cognizant of the impact we humans are having on our planet?