Indigenous Peoples Needed to Meet the Challenge of Climate Change

Gimuy Wallabarra Yidinji Dancers performing Welcome to the Country in Cairns, Australia .Photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky

By Stephen Leahy

First published at National Geographic NewsWatch

“Planning is not part of our culture. You just get up in the morning and do what you need to do for the day,” said Marilyn Wallace of the Kuku Nyungka ‘mob’ (aboriginal nation) in northern Queensland, Australia.

“Bama” or caring for their local territory is an important part of aboriginal culture and identity Wallace told participants at a mini-workshop in Cairns, Australia today Sunday March 25th prior to the start of the main workshop Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous peoples on Monday.

Caring for the land includes monitoring the impacts of climate change and using traditional knowledge to keep or sequester carbon she said.

Click here for full article plus a video visit with Marilyn in her home country.

Hundreds of Millions May Soon Be Fleeing the Floodwaters

More than 5 million affected by flooding in Pakistan Sept 2011 - a repeat of 2010.

Climate disruption shrinking areas where people can live.

Mexico faces $10 billion in storm/flood damage to roads, schools, clinics, etc every year

By Stephen Leahy

OSLO, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS)

Mass migration will inevitably be part of human adaptation to climate change, experts agree, since parts of the world will become uninhabitable in the coming decades.

Last year, 38 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan and China.

“Human displacement due to climate change is happening now. There is no need to debate it,” Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway’s minister of foreign affairs, told over 200 delegates attending the Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century in Oslo Jun. 6-7.

Governments and the humanitarian community need to understand this fact – and that it will get much worse in the coming decades, Støre said.

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Without major emissions reductions, climate change could get far worse than anyone is prepared to think about.

“It may be more realistic to consider four degrees C of warming rather than two degrees C,” suggested Harald Dovland, former head of the Norwegian Delegation to the United Nations climate change negotiations.

The world has already warmed 0.8C and will rise to least 1.6 C even if all emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases ended today, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the conference.

A four-degree C warmer world is a very different planet and risks runaway climate change. Even two degrees C is not safe, Hansen said. 

“The last time the planet was two degrees C warmer was during the Pliocene (five to 2.4 million years ago) and sea levels were 25 metres higher,” he said. “If we burn all the fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) we’re creating conditions that future generations will be unable to cope with.”

Even though a four-degree C warmer world “is choosing the suicidal path”, experts must avoid fuelling xenophobia with predictions of mass migrations and conflicts, says Francois Gemenne, research fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris.

“This also feeds into a security agenda of panic and paranoia,” Gemenne said.

At least 20 percent of humanity will be at high risk of severe flooding due to sea level rise and extreme rainfall events in the coming decades.

“Too many people live in low-lying deltas and other parts of the world that are becoming too dangerous to live in,” said Gemenne. They will be forced to move and often this movement will be permanent.

Rather than building walls and barriers, countries and the international community need to encourage people to move to safer ground. “Lift the barriers so that people can use migration to adapt to climate change,” he urged delegates.  Continue reading

Geoengineering for a Desperate Planet — UN Declares Global Moratorium

By Stephen Leahy*

NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 25, 2010 (Tierramérica)

[Update from Nagoya 30 October 2010. Global moratorium passes.]

Delegates to the world summit on biodiversity here are calling for a moratorium on climate engineering research, like the idea of putting huge mirrors in outer space to reflect some of the sun’s heating rays away from the planet.

Climate engineering or geoengineering refers to any large-scale, human- made effort to manipulate the planet to adapt to climate change.

Representatives from Africa and Asia expressed concern about the negative impacts of geoengineering during the opening week of the 10th Conference of Parties (COP 10) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Oct. 18-29. They were joined by civil society organisations in calling for a moratorium on geoengineering experiments.

The geoengineering proposals include installing giant vertical pipes in the ocean to bring cold water to the surface, pumping vast amounts of sulphates into the stratosphere to block sunlight, or blowing ocean salt spray into clouds to increase their reflectivity.

[Previously posted – Full Story here]