A new climate report released last week by the Trump administration predicts significant — and expensive — impacts on the planet as a result of climate change. The threats from weather-related catastrophes are already clear: Stronger and moreover frequent hurricanes, deadly heat waves, and more intense destructive wildfires.
And that includes a threat to “Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and economies, including agriculture, hunting and gathering, fishing, forestry, energy, recreation, and tourism enterprises.”
This is Trahant Reports.
What’s at most at risk is the traditional subsistence economy. Climate change threatens these delicately balanced subsistence networks by, for example, changing the patterns of seasonal timing and availability of culturally important species in traditional hunting, gathering, and fishing areas.”
One of the case studies focuses on the Yukon Delta in Alaska.
“The Arctic and sub regions are warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. In recent years, residents of the Yukon Delta have noticed unusual conditions. They’ve seen warmer winters with less snow and more unpredictable weather. Ice on the rivers and sea is thinner than in the past, and break-up of ice happens earlier in the year. With reduced snow cover and ice that can’t support the weight of people traveling over it, hunters are restricted to smaller areas, and they can have difficulty harvesting the game upon which they depend,” the case study reports.
The report asks questions that neither Congress nor the Trump administration has answered. Namely: “Especially among young residents, people wonder, ‘Where will we get the resources we need in the future? Will we need to build roads or change some of our traditions to continue thriving?’”
Governments only have two choices when it comes to dealing with climate change. First, spend lots of money trying to slow climate change by reducing fossil fuels and other impacts on the environment. Or, two, spend lots of money adapting to a changing environment. Scratch that: The only issue is how much of our resources will be spent on mitigation (door number one) and how much will be spent on adaptation. Both will be expensive — and tribes will be spending significant sums with or without help from the federal government.
President Donald J. Trump’s White House continues to downplay climate threats. In a statement Friday, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the report began in the Obama administration and that it relies too heavily on the worst-case-scenarios.
The National Climate Assessment is required by law.
While the report is clear about the harsh assessment of the impact of climate change, it also says that Indigenous knowledge is essential because of an understanding of complex natural relationships.
I am Mark Trahant.