Indigenous Wisdom Against Climate Change

1993_-_carrie_dannBy Stephen Leahy*

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 28 (Tierramérica**)While industrialised countries like Canada continue to emit ever-higher levels of greenhouse-effect gases, indigenous peoples around the world are working to survive and adapt to an increasingly dangerous climate.

Over millennia, indigenous peoples have developed a large arsenal of practices that are of potential benefit today for coping with climate change, including some holistic and refreshingly practical ideas.

Why not give automobiles and planes a day of rest? And then later on, two days of rest. That would cut down on pollution,” suggested Carrie Dann, an elder from the Western Shoshone Nation, whose ancestral lands extend across the western United States.

Dann, winner of the 1993 Right Livelihood Award – known as the Alternative Nobel Prize – for her efforts to protect ancestral lands, made her proposal before the 400 delegates gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, Apr. 20-24 for the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change.

Dann warned that Mother Nature is getting warmer and the “fever” needed to be cured. “We see many range (grassland) fires in my territory, it is getting so hot,” she said. Continue reading

Native Peoples Sound Dire Warning On Climate

cracked-earthBy Stephen Leahy*

Drought and hotter weather are making it very difficult to grow the staple crop of maize in most regions of Mexico.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 22 (IPS) – Humanity’s hot carbon breath is not just melting the planet’s polar regions, it is disrupting natural systems and livelihoods around the world, indigenous people reported this week at a global meeting on climate change in Anchorage, Alaska.

“We indigenous people are the prow of the ship of humanity in the oncoming waves of climate change,” said Vanessa Marsh of the small Pacific island of Niue.

Indigenous people are here to alert humanity and lead the way in healing Earth, Marsh, a youth delegate, told more than 400 representatives of world’s indigenous peoples here.

Coastal erosion, mud slides, longer droughts and more severe hurricanes are just some of the impacts of climate change affecting the Caribbean region, Chief Charles Williams of the Kalinago people on the island of Dominica told the U.N.-affiliated Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change.

“Most indigenous people live on the margins…their ‘purses’ are not as strong as others when it comes to coping with climate change,” Williams said. Continue reading

Indigenous Peoples Demand Greater Role in Climate Debate


By Stephen Leahy*

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 20 (Tierramérica) – While indigenous peoples from around the world are meeting in this Alaskan city to seek a greater role in global climate negotiations, the rapidly warming Arctic is forcing some Inuit villages to be relocated.

“We have centuries of experience in adapting to the climate and our traditional lifestyles have very low carbon footprints,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous leader from the Philippines and chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, told Tierramérica.

Carbon-based gases are the principal cause of the greenhouse effect, which leads to climate change. The excessive release of these gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, comes from human activities: the combustion of fossil fuels in industry and transportation, and emissions from livestock production and deforestation.

Some 400 indigenous people, including Bolivian President Evo Morales and observers from 80 nations, are gathered in Anchorage, Alaska for the Apr. 20-24 U.N.-affiliated Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change.

They will discuss and synthesise ways that traditional knowledge can be used to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“Indigenous peoples have contributed the least to the global problem of climate change, but will almost certainly bear the greatest brunt of its impact,” said Patricia Cochran, chair of both the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the April Summit. Continue reading

Earth’s Arctic Freezer Turning Into Hothouse

meltwater-ponds-on-sea-ice-off-coburg-island-nunavut-canada-arctic-warming-has-been-associated-with-a-rapid-decline-in-arctic-summer-sea-ice-extent-image-credit-sandy-briggs1By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Apr 10 (IPS) – The world is losing its northern freezer as Arctic winter ice is in sharp decline, NASA scientists reported this week. Even with below average winter temperatures, Arctic ice is thinner and covers less area than it did a decade ago.

Arctic sea ice is the cooling mechanism for the global climate system. As it declines and the region warms – already three to five degrees Celsius warmer – then inevitably there are local, regional and hemispheric climate impacts.

“We’ve already lost one third of the summer ice cover since the 1980s. There are already impacts from this,” says Ron Kwok of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

“A completely ice-free summer by 2013 is not impossible,” Kwok said in a telephone news conference. “You would have been laughed out the room if you suggested this five years ago.”

The new study shows that the maximum extent of the 2008-2009 winter sea ice cover was the fifth-lowest since researchers began collecting such information 30 years ago. The past six years have produced the six lowest maximums in that record.

More stunning, and indicative of the rapid warming of the region, is the decline in the thick, hard-to-melt multi-year ice, says Walter Meier, research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado. Multiyear ice is ice that is two or more years old and therefore doesn’t melt in the summer.

“Less than 10 percent is multiyear now. It used to be 30 percent in 1981,” Meier said at the news conference.

via ENVIRONMENT: Earth’s Arctic Freezer Turning Into Hothouse.

Global Warming Puts Food Supplies At Risk, New Green Revolution Needed

cattle-oz-rslBy Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Apr 2 (IPS) – Don’t forget about agriculture in the upcoming global negotiations to combat climate change, experts warn. Not only is farming most at risk in an increasingly variable and tempestuous climate, it is also a major emitter of greenhouse gases.

But with the right policies in place, agriculture could both continue to feed the world and play a crucial role in solving the climate problem.

“Agriculture has been missing in the run-up talks to Copenhagen,” says Mark Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The nations of the world will meet in Copenhagen this December to hammer out a new climate treaty to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and establish a fund to help poorer countries adapt. The complex process began in 2007 at the Bali talks, continued in Poznan, Poland in 2008 and is ongoing this week in Bonn.

Agriculture accounts for about 15 percent of human emissions of GHGs, IFPRI says, although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts it higher at 25 percent. Much of those emissions come from developed countries that rely heavily on fossil fuels and fertilisers and raise far more methane-emitting livestock.

With climate change the world is facing reduced yields of up to 20 percent in maize and rice by the year 2050, Rosegrant told IPS. Much of that yield decline will be in the developing world, mainly because sub-tropical and tropical regions are expected to be hit hardest by significant changes in water availability and warmer temperatures.

Climate change could mean ever-rising food prices and therefore significant investments are needed in agricultural research to help countries cope with the coming changes, he says: “We’re trying to work out what the costs for adaptation in agriculture might be.” Continue reading

Organic farming more profitable and better than conventional systems – U of Wisconsin


A University of Wisconsin’s College of Agriculture and Life Science study has found that “diversified (organic) systems were more profitable than monocropping”. Looked at the Midwestern crop standards of continuous corn, no-till corn and soybeans, and intensively managed alfalfa.

Study concludes: governmental policy that supports mono-culture systems is outdated and support should be shifted to programs that promote crop rotations and organic farming practices.

This is just one a many recent studies offering clear evidence that diversified/organic/ecoag farming systems are safer, better and more environmentally sustainable than conventional monocultures:

Organic Agriculture Reduces Climate Change, Poverty and Hunger

Organic Provides 3X More Food Per Acre in Poor Countries – podcast

Overweight? Hungry? Blame “Hollow Food”

Organic Cure for Brain-damaging Pesticides Found in US Children

Male Infertility Linked to Pesticides

GM Crops Creating Pest Problems Around World

Skin Would Fry in 5 Mins Without Ozone Treaty says NASA – Precautionary Lesson for Climate

ozone-hole-sept-08Disaster avoided.   If the world didn’t agree to cut back on ozone destroying chemicals that produce the annual polar ozone holes dangerous UV radiation would have increased a whopping 650 per cent by the year 2065 a new NASA study has found. By then two thirds of the protective ozone layer would have vanished creating a global ozone hole.

Five minutes of summer sun would burn skin in the mid-latitude regions like New York, London, Toronto. And it would be far worse in other regions.

And because those same chemicals are potent greenhouse gases the Earth would be 4 degrees warmer by then well past the critical tipping tip of 2 degrees scientists say we dare not exceed.

The world would have become a “real horrible place”, said NASA scientists.

I covered this in an IPS article last September  and how world leaders took a precautionary and averted catastrophe:

“In hard economic times, protecting the environment is often seen as a luxury — or ignored completely. But had that attitude prevailed 20 years ago when it came to taking action to protect the ozone layer, skin cancer rates would have soared and climate change would be even more dramatic than it is today. “