sábado, 19 de abril de 2014

American Indians, Climate Change, and Ethics for a Warming World

 A nice article on the role of American (USA) indian culture to climate change - read in full

"American Indian tribes and people have contributed very little to the causes of global warming, yet for geographic, cultural, and demographic reasons, they stand to suffer disproportionately from global warming's negative effects. A recent study, Native Communities and Climate Change, prepared by the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado Law School, documents that these effects include, among others, threats to traditional hunting and gathering, destruction of tribal villages in Alaska, increased pressure on tribal reserved rights to water in the arid Southwest, and inundation of reservation lands in Florida. The disproportion between tribal contributions to global warming and the negative impacts on tribes qualifies this as an environmental justice issue. As the Native Communities and Climate Change Report suggests, a complex of legal rights, in conjunction with Congress's moral obligation to tribes, provides the foundation and incentive for the federal government to take action to address these impacts. Yet as important as it is to highlight its environmental justice aspects, global warming's spatial and temporal dispersions render it a global and intergenerational collective action problem that is not susceptible to typical environmental justice solutions. Addressing the disparate effects warming will have on tribes and other disadvantaged communities leads us into these potentially tragic features of climate change, and requires us to articulate an ethical framework that would support global efforts to mitigate (i.e. reduce and eventually eliminate) human contributions to global warming, as well as to assist tribal communities in the already inevitable need to adapt to a warming world. Ultimately, solutions, if they are to take seriously environmental justice claims as well as the impacts at large, lie in the realm of sustainability. This brings us to the significant problem that, despite decades of discussion about sustainability and what it means, we have done relatively little to implement or achieve it. Why, then, should anyone bother to try? The answer lies in the kinds of lives we want to lead, the norms we want to aspire to, and the virtues we want to cultivate, irrespective of whether we will ever have any certainty that either the specific injustices suffered by American Indians or the broader effects that everyone will endure as a result of climate change will be redressed or avoided. Not coincidentally, a philosophical worldview that we might turn to for instruction as we navigate this new terrain is that embraced by many American Indian tribes. Attachment to place and community, and the daily rituals that entails, may be key not only to understanding the disproportionate effects of climate change on American Indian tribes, but also to formulating an ethic for all of us to live by in a world requiring skills, flexibility, and engagement of a kind that we can only barely imagine. This article explores these themes by examining the distinct effects of climate change on the four American Indian tribes discussed in the Native Communities and Climate Change report, then delving into the difficulties surrounding achieving a global solution to climate change, and finally circling back to the ethic embraced by many American Indian tribes that might provide a blueprint for behavior in a warming world."


Sarah Krakoff


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