Saturday, 25 July 2009

Climate change around the globe

Kii'iljuus of Haida Gwaii (aka Queen Charlotte Islands, BC): This year our berries and fish are later than usual -- at least one month behind the time when they usually are ready to eat. The coastline has suffered erosion along the eastern shores. This year the herring and whales did not show up in our inlet as they usually do. A few gray whales came into the inlet but left shortly after. In the past we could count on enjoying their visit for anywhere up to a couple of months.Andrew Casebow of Guernsey in the English Channel: Every one of the past 16 years was warmer than the average of the past 30...[with] marked changes in dates of wildflower bloom and migrating birds. Many birds are nesting more than a week earlier and birds that used to be rare are thriving: e.g. white egrets. Many fish species are moving north...others are in decline.... An unforeseen spring tide flooded St Peter Port... overwhelmed sea defences and damaged large sections of sea wall in the west of the island. This is a foretaste of what climate change could bring as a normal occurrence in 50 years time.
photo: secheresse, Tana par O mon héros on Flickr.
The drying of the Tana River Delta, Kenya: At risk are the subsistence farmers from the Boni, Bajuni, Wakone and Wasanya people and the fishers from the Malakote minority communities who depend on river waters for irrigation and fishing, respectively. Currently, as the Tana River bed dries completely, communities living downstream face severe hunger and lack of clean water for domestic use... wild animals invade the villages as they hunt for water and food. Farmers who turn to hunting and gathering... put extreme pressure on wild fauna and flora. Carbon trading projects (ecotourism facilities, sugar and jatropha plantations for ethanol) threaten indigenous lands.
photo: Samoa sky by ming mong on Flickr.
Iteli Tiatia of Samoa: Our old people know what wind is blowing just by feeling the wind or looking up at the tree tops. They have names for winds from any direction, like the to'elau, la'i, la'ilua, tua'oloa and many others. But wind patterns have dramatically changed, [not only] the direction but also the timing. For example, the old folks know in which months hurricanes are possible: late January, February and March were the worst months; November and December used to be the best. But Hurricane Valerie, one of the most destructive in Samoa, came in December 1991... a hurricane used to come from one direction and eventually fade out once you heard strong lightning and loud thunder... old folks would say in Samoan Ua taliligia le matagi (the hurricane is being shaken). But Valerie did not end despite strong lightning and heavy thunder at its most destructive, until hours later when it covered all four directions.
ice fishing by a Madison Guy on Flickr.
Doug Kiel, an Oneida of Wisconsin: Our 15,000 lakes are a tremendously important natural resource and we usually fish them year-round, even after they freeze over in the winter. But the winters are getting warmer, and in recent years this has not always been possible. When I was a child, the lakes froze over in December and did not thaw until nearly April. Now, the lakes do not freeze until much later into the winter, if at all, and the ice is often dangerously thin. And now when the lakes do freeze, they don't stay frozen. The water is getting warmer during the summer months as well, and this threatens the walleye and trout, two of our most important cold-water fish species.
Simon Qamaniq: photo courtesy Will Steger Foundation
Inuit in Nunavut, Canada: We need to be more careful when pursuing animals because of thinner ice... The water from some rivers and ponds smells and tastes bad, particularly when it does not rain for quite some time. We do not want to drink this water. Caribou are a lot skinnier, and the caribou don’t look as healthy as they used to.”
The excerpts above are from a new UNESCO group blog, Climate Front Lines "for indigenous peoples, small islands and vulnerable communities"; and Inuit culture in a warming Arctic interviews by Lisa Gardiner, © U Michigan, Windows to the Universe. See also Inuit leader Sheila Watt-Cloutier on "the right to be cold".

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