Climate change is altering traditional ways of life worldwide, and two meetings in Montana this week will focus on the impact of those changes, what is being done to work within the new parameters and what might be coming down the line, according to a press release from the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals at Northern Arizona University.
On April 28 and 29 Salish Kootenai College, in Pablo, will host a two-day forum on climate change impacts in the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, “American Indian Alaska Native Climate Change Working Group Spring Meeting 2011.” The meeting will also look at what tribal colleges are doing to address the issue with education and research activities as well as the “mitigation and adaptation responses” of tribal governments in those areas.
The University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation in Missoula will host a symposium on April 30, “Climate Change: Indigenous Peoples and Adaptation,” at which both real and potential climate change issues and impacts will be discussed, especially as they affect indigenous peoples in the northern hemisphere, including the U.S., Canada and Norway. Approaching these changes from an American Indian cultural perspective will factor heavily into the discussions as well.
Efforts to adapt to climate change are already under way, as with the $1.2 million Community Climate Change Adaptation Initiative launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in September 2010 as part of its National Sea Grant College Program. And a leading economist warned back in 2006 that rather than focusing exclusively on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other climate-rescue measures, the world’s peoples need to look at adaptation strategies.
“Adaptation policies have had far less attention than mitigation, and that is a mistake,” said Frances Cairncross, president of the British Science Association and chair of Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council, in a 2006 speech. “We need to think now about policies that prepare for a hotter, drier world, especially in poorer countries. That may involve, for instance, developing new crops, constructing flood defences, setting different building regulations, or banning building close to sea level.”