Monthly Archives: July 2014

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Climate Change

Rosalyn LaPier talks about learning Traditional Ecological Knowledge from her grandmother in this article and video on the EPA Environmental Justice Blog. She also discusses how climate change is affecting traditional practices tied to seasonal patterns that are now shifting.

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She describes the learning process: “…unlike what most people think, it was not an informal activity. Instead it was a formal process of learning. The Amskapi Pikuni, now known as the Blackfeet, believe in a process they call “transferring.” The Blackfeet believe that both tangible and intangible items are considered personal property which can be bought and sold. A tipi, which is tangible, or a name, which is intangible, are given equal value as property. However, instead of using the words “buy” or “sell,” the Blackfeet use the word “transfer.”

Navajo Teen Turns Community Need Into Science Award

See this inspiring video from Indian Country Today about 16-year-old Raquel Redshirt , who solved a critical problem for her community on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She used materials readily available in her community to build solar ovens, taking advantage of the ubiquitous New Mexico sunlight.

“My great grandparents barely used their stove because they couldn’t afford to buy propane,” Raquel says in the video.

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Elwha River Will Finally Be Free This Year

This story from the AP details some of the changes already occurring to the Elwha River and its estuary after the removal of the Elwha Dam and most of the Glines Canyon Dam beginning in 2011. Chinook salmon and steelhead have been swimming up into the reaches of the Elwha River and its tributaries upstream of the Elwha Dam for the first time in nearly a century.

Once flows drop, crews can begin removing the remaining 30 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam. They expect to be done by the end of the year and the Elwha River will truly be free once again. Don’t forget to check out these amazing images of the biggest dam removal in the world (so far!).

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Could this be the reason behind climate change denial?

A study in the journal Climatic Change by Jeremiah Bohr of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds that the likelihood of “dismissing the dangers associated with climate change” increase as income levels also increase among Republicans. Among Democrats and independents, there is little or no change in views of climate change at different levels of income. 

The author writes that “at the bottom quintile of income, Republicans are not significantly different from either Independents or Democrats” in terms of their views of the dangers of climate change. “Among individuals with conservative political orientations, there is a correlation between occupying advantageous positions within industrial economic systems and an unwillingness to acknowledge the risks associated with climate change,” Bohr states.

You can read more on Grist here.

Probability of dismissing climate change risks in relation to political party affiliation and level of income.
Probability of dismissing climate change risks in relation to political party affiliation and level of income. J. Bohr, Climatic Change, July 2014

 

White House Climate Change Initiatives

The White House has released a factsheet today about a series of climate change initiatives that were based on the recommendations of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness. The initiatives are intended to improve local planning for flooding, coastal erosion, and storm surge; predicting landslide risks under sea level rise and storms; and protecting the electricity supply. You can read a summary in the New York Times here.

Highlights include:

  • National Disaster Resilience Competition. Nearly $1 billion to make resources available to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years.
  • Helping tribes prepare for climate impacts. A $10 million Federal-Tribal Climate Resilience Partnership and Technical Assistance Program that will help tribes prepare for climate change by developing and delivering adaptation training.
  • Investing in the nation’s rural electric system. The USDA will award $236.3 million in funding for eight states to support improved rural electric infrastructure.
  • Developing advanced mapping data and tools. USGS launched a $13.1 million 3-D Elevation Program partnership designed to bring Federal agencies, academia, corporate entities, states, tribes, and communities together to develop advanced mapping for flood risk management, water resource planning, mitigation of coastal erosion and storm surge impacts, and identification of landslide hazards. More information is available athttp://nationalmap.gov/3DEP/.
  • Safeguarding access to quality drinking water amid drought. USDA will announce additional funds to help rural communities struggling with drought.

Rebuilding stronger and safer after natural disasters:

  • Establishing a Mitigation Integration Task Force.  Working with State, tribal, local, and eligible private non-profit partners, FEMA will identify pilot projects in current and emerging disasters where there are specific opportunities to make investments that result in a more resilient outcome than using a single funding source and program.
  • Accounting for Climate Change in Hazard Mitigation Planning.  More information is available at http://www.fema.gov/multi-hazard-mitigation-planning.

Building more resilient communities:

  • Committing to “Preparedness Pilots.”  Two “Preparedness Pilots” in cooperation with the City of Houston and the State of Colorado, with NASA (Johnson Space Flight Center) and the Energy Department (National Renewable Energy Laboratory).  T
  • Making our coasts more resilient.  NOAA announced new program guidance under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act to ensure greater consideration of how climate change may exacerbate challenges in the management of coastal areas. $1.5 million of competitive funding will be available to help states and tribes make improvements to their coastal management programs.  More information is available at http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/.
  • Improving stormwater management. The EPA launched a Green Infrastructure Collaborative among government agencies, NGOs, and other private sector entities to advance green stormwater infrastructure.
  • Assessing climate-related health hazards. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released a new guide, “Assessing Health Vulnerability to Climate Change,” to help public health departments assess local vulnerabilities to health hazards associated with climate change:  http://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/pubs/AssessingHealthVulnerabilitytoClimateChange.pdf