Let’s start from the beginning: Indigenous voices in climate change

Polar bear habitat has been affected by warming trends

Polar bear habitat has been affected by warming trends

Perhaps we need to take a step back and re-think what we mean by climate change.

And global warming.

Let’s start with the row about science.

After many fits and starts, science is finally being heeded in public discourse.

In other words, anyone disputing the reality of global warming is painted as irrational, trading opinion over science.

Even the politicians loathe to acknowledge that science doesn’t mesh with their personal ideological views now opine, “I’m not a scientist, but…”

That position at least recognizes global warming actually exists.

Thumbs up, Science.

Thumbs down, politicians.

Admitting you’re not a scientist—like the politician quoted above—gives you license to use other hardware to claim your turf.

So a politician may not be a scientist, but by gum she knows what she believes.

This week President Barack Obama announced he would earmark $3 billion to fund a United Nations climate-change effort to boost renewable energy and temper the effects of global warming in developing countries.

The pledge brings into focus the role of indigenous peoples in creating climate change policy.

Indigenous people have long recognized their landscape is changing.

The Earth is Faster Now, published in 2002, contains stories of Arctic peoples who have seen changes in coastal ice formations and caribou populations, which impact their livelihoods.

Environmental changes have also been noted by indigenous Africans as rising temperatures affect their herds and vegetation.

And in the Amazon, forests are being decimated, thus changing the once-lush territory to a moonscape.

Point is, we can’t talk about environmental change without hearing indigenous perspectives.

Blog #19 for Native American Heritage Month

Photo from the US Department of the Interior


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, Climate change, framing, global warming, Indian, Native Science, science, science communication and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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