As the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced and better understood, the concerns of Indigenous Peoples are coming more and more to the fore. Conventional science is beginning to understand not only that they suffer inordinately from the phenomenon, but also that their traditional knowledge could hold some keys for adaptation, if not mitigation.
The National Climate Change Assessment released by President Barack Obama in May devoted a chapter on climate change’s effects on Indigenous Peoples.
What’s going on is not just happening to Natives, however. It’s happening to everyone, since it is happening to the Earth, and everyone lives on Earth.
"Things are happening now, and they're not little things. They're big things," says Sarah Trainor, one of the lead authors of the National Climate Assessment's chapter on Alaska, which has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation, with commensurate impacts. Though that chapter does not directly deal with indigenous concerns, the effects of these changes on Alaska Natives is well documented.
From receding sea ice to shrinking glaciers to thawing permafrost, the transformation is undeniable and acute. The video below highlights some of what can be found in the Alaska chapter of the assessment, which was released in May. It is one of several released for various chapters of the assessment.