A fresh and very interesting Q & A discussion of climate change in relationship to indigenous worldviews. Via Science Magazine:
The Arctic has become the frontline for observing the effects of anthropogenic climate change, from rising ocean temperatures to shrinking sea ice cover. These changes have greatly impacted the traditional practices of indigenous Arctic communities, which rely on sea ice for hunting and travel. In recent years, climate scientists have sought the multigenerational and intimate knowledge that indigenous people have of their environment. How can scientists use this knowledge to improve climate projections and models while respecting indigenous culture?
Igor Krupnik, an anthropologist with the Smithsonian Institution, has studied the indigenous communities of Alaska and northern Russia for 40 years. Yesterday, he gave a talk at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW) on environmental observations that indigenous experts recorded from 2000 to 2010. I sat down to chat with him about what scientists could learn from indigenous perspectives of climate change.
Q: How long have Arctic communities perceived climate change as a threat?
I.K.: First, it hasn’t been perceived as a threat. That’s very much today’s Western perspective. People are concerned with what is happening, but I haven’t heard them speaking about their environment as being “under threat.” [They describe it as] “a friend acting strangely.” It’s a friend that behaves a little bit weird, but doesn’t cease to be a friend because it’s your home.
Q: When did the period of acting strangely start?
I.K.: We started documenting it from indigenous people in the late 1990s, which doesn’t mean it started then, it’s just when we started looking for it and listening to them …
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