Wednesday, December 16, 2009

At Copenhagen, Native Alaskans Urge Action

At Copenhagen, Native Alaskans Urge Action

The New York Times

Native Alaskan women prepare salmon for smoking. Alaska’s indigenous people say small societies in the state’s northern region are being forced to move due to climate change.

Alaska’s indigenous people are seeing erosion, rising waters and melting permafrost – and their representatives at this week’s climate meetings in Copenhagen are raising the alarm.

“The rising temperatures have an huge effect on our lives, and we are now in the middle of a big crisis,” said Faith Gemmill, a Fairbanks-based outreach coordinator from Redoil, an organization that advocates for indigenous people.

Alaska is “ground zero of US energy policy,” Ms. Gemmill said, and natives feel left out when important decisions are made on energy policy.

“We will not sacrifice our lives to support the enormous energy consumption in the U.S.,” she said. “We are the victims of the quick energy fix.”

The organization had hoped to meet President Barack Obama at the Copenhagen conference or at least someone from his staff, but the rescheduling of his trip made that even less likely. Nonetheless, she remains optimistic.

“I have to have hope, and I think it is realistic to have some influence on the politicians,” said Ms. Gemmill, who is herself a native Alaskan. “We would like to meet the Obama administration, and tell them what is really happening in our society. We want a commitment from our government, and we want the administration to think about who feels the consequences of their policy.”

Ms. Gemmill said that many small societies in northern Alaska are being forced to move due to climate change. And there is no one but themselves to pay for it – a situation she considers unacceptable.

“That bill is not being paid by the oil companies, the government or the state of Alaska,” she said. “But these are the ones who in reality should pay.”

1 comment:


December 15th, 2009
11:46 pmSomeone needs to get the world to heed nature's law that governs the human future. The Law of Conservation of Energy says that new energy released from trapped sources will eventually become added heat energy worsening climate change. That means we have to get stopped all energy gotten from nuclear as well as fossil fuels and get renewable energy going as fast as possible. Perhaps Ms. Gemmill can get attention to that law as most at Copenhagen have no idea about it. Dr. J. Singmaster
Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers 2 . Steven Earl Salmony
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
December 16th, 2009
12:19 amYvo De Boer and the leaders of Copenhagen Climate Change Conference are engaged in "the good fight" at the last, best opportunity for human civilization to save the planet for the children and coming generation as a fit place for human habitation. Years ago I was told that my generation had a duty to leave the world a better place than what is was when it was given to us by our forefathers and foremothers. It goes without saying that my not-so-great generation of greed-mongering elders will fall woefully short of discharging its responsibilities. Come what may for the children. Too many arrogant and selfish leaders in a single generation have recklessly chosen to fight wrongful wars for wrongheaded reasons, at a cost of blood and treasure that is as astounding in its stupidity as it is incalculable to measure.
Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers 3 . KraftPaper
December 16th, 2009
2:11 amWhat do Native Alaskans know? They're not wearing Carhartt clothes or slaying from helicopters They've only lived there for centuries? They're not even driving a Hummer. And the concern for polar bears? What's up with that? Is there some kind of link between humans and the environment? Not as long as I have a gun. Besides they don't have the same bible I do.
Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers 4 . Henry1814
December 16th, 2009
2:11 am"Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
and don't have any kids yourself."

--Philip Larkin
Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers 5 . Tom McMahon
Millis Ma.
December 16th, 2009
5:03 amCimate change is upon us and the point of no return will come before enough serious action is taken. Its a given. Mankind is reactive in nature not proactive so by the time we realize it we will have passed the point of no return with runnaway climate change causing water shortages, food shortages, displaced populations in the hundreds of millions of people all because we failed to heed the warnings. The naysayers and deniers will have destroyed mankind as we know it and no amount of money spent will bring back the past. The past is gone forever and the future is indeed bleak for all mankind.

thomas mcmahon
millis ma
Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers 6 . AKRawson
December 16th, 2009
8:52 pmThe correct term is Alaska Native; Native Alaskan is non-indigenous whereas an Alaskan Native is indigenous.
Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers 7 . Vera
December 16th, 2009
8:52 pmLook back 10 years ago what the climate is it? The sky is very blue,air is quite fresh but now how is it?Completely different.Right now every day we are in environment that should be called"bad",but who care us?I guess the government only care the economy right now because we are in special time which is recession and most of people too.We don't have much time to care the environment.
But i still hope there is someone could still care the environment because that is we are living and breath every day. Like right now the place i am staying got smell air we breath every day. turn to afternoon i got headache,just because the air.How sick it is!

Vera Song

Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers