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tuesday :: december 21, 2004
climate change: message from the artic indigenous peoples

To Arctic Indigenous Peoples, the message in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) is clear and stark: human-induced global climate change is happening in the Arctic now and will accelerate in decades ahead with dramatic and widespread impacts, effects and consequences.

With summer sea-ice reduced by the end of the century to a remnant in the vicinity of the North Pole; the projected decrease and possible disappearance of polar bears, walrus, and some species of seals; disruptions to the migratory patterns of caribou and loss of reindeer habitat; the possible disappearance of traditional fisheries; and wholesale changes to coastal zones, permafrost and treed areas, and settlement patterns; the ways of life of Arctic residents, particularly Indigenous Peoples, are at risk. Global climate change will drive and determine social and economic development throughout this vast region in the 21st Century and beyond. What is to be done about it is the challenge of our times.

To Arctic Indigenous Peoples climate change is a cultural issue. We have survived in a harsh environment for thousands of years by listening to its cadence and adjusting to its rhythms. We are part of the environment and if, as a result of global climate change, the species of animals upon which we depend are greatly reduced in number or location or even disappear, we, as peoples would become endangered as well.

For some years we have seen and reported environmental and social impacts of global climate change. Climate change is already threatening our ways of life and poses everyday, practical questions, such as when and where to go hunting, and when and when not to travel. Indeed, the findings of the ACIA show that the Arctic climate is changing twice as fast as that of the rest of the world. There is very little time for Indigenous Peoples and the resources on which we depend to adjust and adapt.

Worldwide ecological impacts that result from global climate change are first noticeable in the circumpolar North, explaining why this region is often characterized as the globe's "barometer" of environmental health. It is also why in 2003 the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called for increased monitoring in the Arctic. Alteration of the Arctic climate is very likely to affect the rest of the world through increased sea levels and increased warming of lower latitudes causing major economic and social disruption. What is happening to us now will occur to others further south in years to come.

Our environmental observations are supported in the ACIA. Our traditional knowledge - incorporating historic and contemporary observations - complements science-based observations. Both are reported in the ACIA, a unique and important feature of this assessment. >from *Time for Action on Climate Change. A Statement by Arctic Indigenous Peoples* signed by Michael Zacharof President Aleut International Association, Gary Harrison International Chair Arctic Athabaskan Council, Joe Linklater Chair Gwitch'in Council International, Sheila Watt-Cloutier International Chair Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Sergei Haruchi President Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Geir Tommy Pedersen President Saami Council. October 21, 2004

related context
RealClimate. 'RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. we aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. the discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.'
> global warming continues. 'the year 2004 was the fourth hottest ever recorded and the past decade was the warmest since measurements began in 1861. over the 20th century, the global surface temperature increased by more than 0.60C. the rate of change for the period since 1976 is roughly three times that for the past 100 years as a whole.' world meteorological organization, december 15, 2004
> nasa eyes ice changes around earth's frozen caps. 'earth's ice cover is changing rapidly near its poles. recent studies point to new evidence of relationships between climate warming, ice changes and sea level rise.' december 14, 2004
> human activity to blame for 2003 heatwave. 'human activity has increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and more than doubled the risk of record-breaking hot european summers, like that of 2003.' december 2, 2004
> species extinction. 'unlike the mass-extinction events of geological history, the current extinction phenomenon is one for which a single species - ours - appears to be almost wholly responsible. major threats to ecosystems and biological diversity are: habitat loss and fragmentation, over exploitation, pollution, invasions of alien species, global climate change (changes in migratory species patterns, coral bleaching, etc.).' november , 2004
> up in smoke? threats from, and responses to, the impact of global warming on human development. 'the impact of global warming is being felt most by the world's poorest people, as many of our case studies make clear. food production, water supplies, public health, and people's livelihoods are all being damaged and undermined. global warming threatens to reverse human progress.' october 20, 2004
> oil peak: the most pivotal challenge facing modern civilization. 'it is time to come together and acknowledge our collective vulnerability, and begin working to change the structure of our culture and civilization in ways we've never attempted before.' june 23, 2004
> climate change may come as a shock. 'north-western europe could be in for some sudden climatic surprises in the future... kept warm by an ocean current... this current is sensitive to global warming and could slow down, or even break down as a result of increasing global temperatures.' january 30, 2004
> yanomami, spirit of the forest. 'to connect our conception of images and representations with that of another culture... features neither tribal feather ornaments, nor any 'amerindian' or 'crossover' art. nor is this an ethnological or humanitarian exhibition. treating yanomami thought on an equal footing.' october 22, 2003
> unesco: universal declaration on cultural diversity. adopted in the wake of the events of 11 september 2001, reaffirmed that intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of peace and rejected outright the theory of the inevitable clash of cultures and civilizations. it raises cultural diversity to the level of 'the common heritage of humanity', 'as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature' and makes its defence an ethical imperative indissociable from respect for the dignity of the individual. november 2, 2001

tupilaks or snow goggles.
what do we need to see what's going on up north?

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