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Fayetteville, Arkansas, establishes fund to support climate refugees » Yale Climate Connections


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For decades, Dick Bennett of Fayetteville, Arkansas was an anti-war activist and a professor of literature at the University of Arkansas.

He says reading has shaped his life.

“To me, books produced a visceral experience and social action,” Bennett says.

So when he started reading about climate change, he grew increasingly alarmed about how warming will affect the world’s most vulnerable people.

And he was inspired to make his corner of Arkansas a welcoming place for people who are forced to leave their homes to escape rising seas, droughts, and heat waves.

So he started sharing information about climate migration with the city government — for example, his city’s chief of staff.

“She wanted to learn, and so I passed on books to her and talked with her,” Bennett says.

And he gave the city of Fayetteville $100,000 to establish a small trust fund.

Money from the fund will support nonprofits that provide resettlement services for climate refugees.

He says it’s a model that other cities can follow.

“I’m hoping … that this endowment can inspire other cities to imitate it,” Bennett says. “That will give me enormous satisfaction.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media



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