ARCTIC LOSS, NATIVE CULTURAL LOSSES
The Letman article was brought to my attention by a friend and former colleague, now at Tebtebba, because another friend and former colleague, Rodion Syulandziga from the Russian indigenous rights network RAIPON, contributed to it. (Click here for info on RAIPON in English, from the Arctic Council's website.)
Rodion points out to Letman that "[i]ncreasingly unpredictable weather and unreliable sea ice directly impacts animal migration, which affects subsistence hunting for traditional food sources like reindeer and sea mammals. Warmer temperatures ... also hasten the introduction of plant and animal diseases as southern species of fish and birds move north." And, "[i]n addition to a warming Arctic, Russia’s indigenous peoples also face the rush to exploit vast energy and mineral resources. Oil, gas, coal, nickel, iron ore, platinum and other minerals draw multi-national corporations to Russia’s most remote regions where highly restricted access makes monitoring health and safety practices, damage and pollution mitigation and other conditions difficult or impossible."
Rodion also touches on how RAIPON is being subjected to increasing threats from the Russian government. In 2012-2013 this involved using technicalities of the law to suspend the group's activities during a critical period of time (when a national RAIPON gathering was supposed to happen), ordering the arrest of a staff member on specious grounds when he was abroad at a conference, and using political pressure to increase the influence of Kremlin-friendly indigenous representatives in the organization. Indigenous communities whose cultures are predicated on the existence of permafrost and sea ice are existentially threatened by climate change, and in Russia, also by the government's repression of civil society.
MORE HEAT, MORE CONFLICT
I see another familiar reference in this article-- a link to a study of how heat correlates with aggression in Kenya, led by Solomon Hsiang, now a professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, my alma mater. He did the study with Ted Miguel of the UC Berkeley-based Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), which analyzes the impact of development projects, and Marshall Burke, also at UC Berkeley (in Ag and Resource Economics). The study supports the idea demonstrated in other studies "that climatic events which produce temporary warming are associated with a temporary increase in violent intergroup conflict..." (p. 2). Sol Hsiang has a fascinating body of work on the social implications of climate threats.
- See his personal website's list of publications
- See his list of publications and press coverage of his research at GSPP's website
Some highlights of Sol's work:
- Click here for a six and a half-minute interview where he summarizes some of his findings on heat's correlation with aggression for the PBS Newshour from August 2013.
- Read Climate, conflict, and social stability:what does the evidence say? - a compelling meta-analysis of 50 studies published in 2013 with M. Burke, which finds a possible "causal association between climatological changes and various conflict outcomes..."
Other studies/articles referenced in the Letman article:
- The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability (Mora et al., October 2013, Nature) - showing how parts of the tropics may experience unprecedented climates within the next 10 years, and how, if GHG emissions aren't brought under control, the "average" place on Earth will experience a radically different climate within the next 35 years.
- A 2012 Human Rights Watch publication on the health impacts of Bangladesh's tanneries, in part authored by Richard Pearshouse, an HRW researcher interviewed by Letman; and a 2009 article on Bangladesh's climate refugees (L. Friedman, Scientific American)