Indigenous peoples speak on climate change

Sept. 13, 2011 at 7:57 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Personal interviews with indigenous Alaskans are providing unique insights on climate change and its impacts on local communities, U.S. researchers say.

The U.S. Geological Survey conducted interviews with Yup'ik hunters and elders in the villages of St. Mary's and Pitka's Point in Alaska's Yukon River Basin to gather their observations of climate change.

"Many climate change studies are conducted on a large scale, and there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding how climate change will impact specific regions," USGS social scientist Nicole Herman-Mercer said in a release Tuesday. "This study helps address that uncertainty and really understand climate change as a socioeconomic issue by talking directly to those with traditional and personal environmental knowledge."

The indigenous knowledge can include observations, lessons and stories about local environments handed down for generations, providing a long history of environmental knowledge and suggesting new areas for scientists to study, the researchers said.

As the world's first locations to begin experiencing the effects of climate change, the arctic and subarctic are of particular interest, they said.

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