Alteration of Climate and its Impact on Indigenous People - A Review
The swift increase in the world’s population and our ever-growing dependence on fossil fuel-based modes of production has played a sizeable role in the growing concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Industrial development is important for economic growth, employment generation and improvement in the quality of life. However, industrial activities without proper precautionary measures for environmental protection are known to cause pollution and associated problems. If ecological and environmental criteria are forsaken, "industrialise and perish" will be the nature's retort. Now, there is a global consensus about the threat posed by the climate change. As a result, global temperatures are increasing, the sea level is rising and precipitation patterns are changing, while storm surges, floods, droughts and heat waves are becoming more frequent and severe. Subsequently, agricultural production is decreasing, freshwater is becoming scarce, infectious diseases are on the rise, local livelihoods are being degraded and human well-being is diminishing. Although indigenous peoples’ “low-carbon” traditional ways of life have contributed little to climate change, indigenous peoples are the most adversely affected by it. Climate change is drawing ever more consideration from the media, academics and even businesses, as evidence mounts about its measure and seriousness, and the rapidity at which it is affecting the world. But rarely does its impact on minorities and indigenous groups get a mention, even though they are among the worst affected. These people are rarely considered in academic, program and public discourses on climate change, despite the fact that they will be greatly impacted by future changes. Their livelihoods depend on natural resources that are directly affected by climate change, and they often inhabit economically marginal areas in diverse, but fragile ecosystems. Indigenous people are the primary actors in terms of global climate change monitoring, adaptation and innovation. Indigenous and other local peoples are vital and active parts of many ecosystems and may help to enhance the flexibility of these ecosystems. In addition, they understand and react to climate change impacts in creative ways, drawing on traditional knowledge as well as new technologies to find solutions, which may help society at large to cope with the approaching changes. Indigenous people will also need the support of the global community to continue their role as traditional caretakers of marginal and fragile ecosystems. So one should try to recognize how indigenous and other local peoples are affected by global climate change, and how they perceive and react to these changes. The focus should be not only on the plight of indigenous peoples, but also on their resourcefulness and active responses to climatic variation. Improving public awareness and developing overall communications strategies makes climate change science accessible to the average citizen and can reduce their vulnerability. Besides awareness-raising at local levels, it is also important to involve high-level policymakers to ensure integration of climate change risks into national development policies.
Keywords - Traditional / Indigenous people, livelihood, global climate change, traditional caretakers