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.

native-windmill-art1To prevent similar uncontrolled wildfires that have burned up large portions of Australia and killed hundreds of people in recent years, the Aborigines of Western Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory, are using traditional fire practices to reduce such wildfires.

Preventing these fires also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and, for the first time in the world, these Aborigines have sold 17 million dollars’ worth of carbon credits to industry, generating significant new income for the local community, according to a report presented in Anchorage.

Australia’s Aborigines have traditionally used controlled burning following the rainy season to create barriers to stop the intense wildfires later during the dry season.

Wildfires account for a substantial portion of Australia’s carbon emissions and have been very destructive. However, in recent years few Aborigines live on the land any more so there have been fewer controlled burns. But now there is a new role to play in the fight against global warming.

via RIGHTS: Indigenous Wisdom Against Climate Change.

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