This is Section 17.4.1 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Lead Authors: James J. McCarthy, Marybeth Long Martello; Contributing Authors: Robert Corell, Noelle Eckley Selin, Shari Fox, Grete Hovelsrud-Broda, Svein Disch Mathiesen, Colin Polsky, Henrik Selin, Nicholas J.C.Tyler; Corresponding Authors: Kirsti Strøm Bull, Inger Maria Gaup Eira, Nils Isak Eira, Siri Eriksen, Inger Hanssen-Bauer, Johan Klemet Kalstad, Christian Nellemann, Nils Oskal, Erik S. Reinert, Douglas Siegel-Causey, Paal Vegar Storeheier, Johan Mathis Turi
The following are preliminary findings from the two sites for which assessments of climate change in the context of multiple stresses and resilience would be particularly timely. Knowledge about what makes a system either vulnerable to or resilient to change can be used to minimize risks and damage and to capitalize on opportunities. Regional scenarios for climate and other changes and field research conducted with the full participation of inhabitants of Sachs Harbour and coastal Greenland will be needed to develop an assessment of climate impacts and other changes beyond these initial findings.
Sachs Harbour (22.214.171.124)
Berkes and Jolly have identified three reasons why the Arctic is a highly appropriate region in which to address questions relating to human adaptations to climate change. First, people living in the Arctic, particularly indigenous peoples with subsistence livelihoods, have historically experienced a high degree of climate variability, and their ability to adapt to varying climate, from seasonal to interannual, is part of their culture. Second, as is well documented in earlier chapters, the rate of climate change recently experienced in the Arctic, and likely to continue over the next several decades, may be exceeding the range of experience and hence capacity of arctic peoples to adapt. Third, there is a growing body of participatory research, with topics ranging from wildlife co-management to the use of traditional knowledge in environmental assessments.The focus of the analysis by Berkes and Jolly is a Canadian Arctic community, Sachs Harbour, on Banks Island, NWT.
Sachs Harbour, a community of 150 Inuvialuit hunters and trappers was the subject of a two-year study (1999– 2001) by the Canadian International Institute for Sustainable Development.This area is known to have been inhabited episodically, beginning with Pre-Dorset peoples over 3500 years ago. Traditional livelihoods (hunting, trapping, fishing) continue to thrive, and increasingly tourism, including guiding and the sale of arts and crafts, contributes to the local economy.The study became widely known through the distribution of an educational video, and several research papers.
The report on this study describes a community at a crossroads. Climate has changed in recent decades and traditional ways of predicting weather are no longer reliable.Within the last few decades the later dates for autumn freeze-up, earlier dates for spring thaw, thinner winter ice, diminished extent of multi-year sea ice, thawing permafrost, and increased coastal erosion have altered abundances of and accessibility to fish and wildlife.The people of Sachs Harbour wonder whether they can maintain their traditional ways of life if these trends continue.
Berkes and Jolly analyzed the adaptive capacity of this community, considering a continuum of near-term coping responses to longer term cultural and ecological adaptations. Given the high degree of natural climate variability in the Arctic, coping strategies have always been essential for the success of indigenous peoples’ livelihoods.These strategies include adjusting the timing of activities and switching between fished and hunted species to minimize risk and uncertainty in harvest. Waiting is also a coping strategy. “People wait for the geese to arrive, for the land to dry, for the weather to improve, or for the rain to end”. But as annual climate cycles become more and more unfamiliar, new strategies are necessary.With changes in snow and ice cover, permafrost conditions, and coastal erosion, modes of transportation need to change. Greater unpredictability in weather also requires a greater caution for those who travel on ice. Coping with changes in harvest has in some regards become easier as alternatives to traditional diets have become more available with the growing reach of market economies.
Longer term adaptive responses that are considered central to the long-term success of indigenous peoples in the Arctic are categorized as follows: (1) mobility and flexibility in terms of group size; (2) flexibility with regard to seasonal cycles of harvest and resource use, backed up by oral traditions to provide group memory; (3) detailed local environmental knowledge and related skill sets; (4) sharing mechanisms and social networks to provide mutual support and minimize risks; and (5) intercommunity trade. The authors go on to suggest that the first response, mobility and group size, became much less relevant following the settlement of Inuit in permanent villages several decades ago. However, the remaining four responses have continuing potential to offer some adaptive capacity to deal with future climate change.
But will these time-proven strategies be sufficient for a future where factors in addition to climate change become increasingly important in this human– environment system? Are there other adaptive responses that need to be examined? Increasing dependence on cash economies and industries such as tourism raise new questions about the sustainability and overall vulnerability of this system.
The co-generation of knowledge in the IISD study, which fully involved the Inuvialuit people of Sachs Harbour, sets the stage for discussions about vulnerabilities in this location. However, in addition to participatory research methods to support the collaboration of researchers and local peoples, there are also institutional arrangements in this region that can facilitate the assessment of vulnerability in the context of multiple stresses, including climate change, pollution, and economic change. Over the last two decades co-management bodies have arisen that provide individual Inuit communities with formal mechanisms to interact with regional, territorial, and federal government institutions.These bodies provide greater local flexibility and response capacity in dealing with local uncertainties such as climate change. Moreover, they facilitate self-organization and learning across levels of organization, thus enhancing feedbacks across the levels.A community like Sachs Harbour can improve its understanding of risks and vulnerabilities and therefore better prepare itself for the future by examining possible effects of and responses to climate change in a historical perspective and within the context of other forms of social and environmental transformation.
Communities in Greenland (and other similar communities elsewhere in the Arctic) that rely heavily on living natural resources, such as marine resources, might utilize vulnerability analysis in anticipating and planning for future social and environmental changes. Many such communities have a mixed subsistence/cash economy that involves a combination of commercial fishing, wage employment, and small-scale hunting and fishing activities. Commercial fishing (for shrimp, Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) and other species) is dominant in terms of monetary return.The residents of these communities and the environments with which they interact are affected by many factors including governance and market dynamics spanning local to global contexts, as well as climate and pollution. Recent decades have witnessed significant changes in these variables and the future may hold even more pronounced alterations. A vulnerability analysis could be useful for residents, other stakeholders, and decision-makers in identifying which social and environmental influences warrant their concern, the potentially advantageous or adverse consequences of these factors, and how human–environment systems could respond.
Climate change could have important consequences for Greenland’s human–environment systems. Recent statistically downscaled temperature scenario results based on the Max Planck Institute climate model ECHAM4/ OPYC3 for Greenland project a warming trend for the period 1990 to 2050 of 1.3 to 1.6 ºC for West Greenland and around 0.4 ºC for East Greenland. In West Greenland such a trend is likely to have significant implications for sea-ice cover, for icedependent marine mammal species such as the ringed seal, and for hunting and fishing activities that require secure ice cover.
Pollution is another factor that could bear on the vulnerability and resilience of Greenland’s human– environment systems. Although no clear effects on human health are presently observed in Greenland, the occurrence of POPs and heavy metals in traditional foods is identified by some researchers as an important environmental threat to human health. Health concerns have been expressed in particular for pregnant women and small children. Greenlandic residents have in general a high consumption of marine mammals and fish and are exposed to POPs mainly through their marine diet. Data indicate that levels of some POPs in biota in Greenland have decreased over the past 20 years, although it is difficult to compare earlier and more recent data for methodological reasons. Given international and national policies regarding these compounds, it is reasonable to expect that environmental levels of DDT, PCBs, and HCH in Greenland will decline toward 2020. In contrast, PBDE levels are increasing in some parts of the Arctic.
Data since the mid-1990s reveal that the estimated average human intake of both Hg and Cd from local marine food continues to greatly exceed the FAO/ WHO limits.The study that produced these data involved surveys in two towns and two settlements in the Disko Bay region where the main dietary source of Hg and Cd was seal liver. This study shows that Hg and Cd are still posing problems in arctic ecosystems and could affect humans whose diet results in high levels of exposure to these metals. Most Hg contamination arises from long-range transport and there are indications of increased Hg levels in seabirds and marine mammals in West Greenland. Smoking is often the major source of human Cd contamination. Lead contamination, another heavy metal of concern in the Arctic, is linked to the use of lead shot for bird hunting and to continued use of leaded gasoline in parts of Russia and in some non-arctic countries.
Governance could shape the vulnerability and resilience of human–environment systems in marine resource use communities.The distribution of power among supranational, national, and sub-national decision-making bodies, for example, could help to create or ameliorate particular problems for a given human–environment system and could influence the ability of such a system to anticipate and react to stresses or potential stresses. Self-determination and self-government via Home Rule (established in 1979) allow Greenlanders a greater say in charting the country’s economic and social development. However, some observers argue that the Greenlandic government, though supported by Greenland’s inhabitants, has allowed for less autonomy at local levels than did its predecessor. According to this view, local people had more control over access to territory and other aspects of natural resource use and management under the more distant central government. Currently, hunting methods and catches of a number of target species are influenced to a large extent by scientific data and by the management institutions that draft hunting and fishing regulations. Prior to the early 1990s, local communities granted territorial access for hunting and fishing to all members of a local community. This access (e.g., available for full-time hunters and fishers and fishing vessel owners) is now decided by the centralized Home Rule Government that manages hunting and fishing through regulations.
Natural resource management decisions are further influenced by international laws and policies and global markets. Greenland is heavily involved with transnational policymaking that has implications for domestic governance decisions regarding natural resource use and the environment. Consequently, Greenlandic hunters and fishers have to cope with and adapt to international politics and policymaking concerning species conservation and other matters. Greenland is represented in several multilateral fishery organizations and Greenland and the EU renegotiate a fishing agreement every five years. The Home Rule Government sets fishery quotas based on recommendations of biologists and international organizations. In addition, global competition among commercial fisheries forces Royal Greenland (an independent limited company owned by the Home Rule Government that engages in the catching, processing, manufacture, and distribution of seafood products) to fish more efficiently (so affecting the nature of the fishery) and to cut costs (which can include shutting long-operating processing plants in some communities). This situation has important implications for households that engage in the fishing industry and rely to varying degrees on subsistence hunting and fishing.
Whaling of minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and fin whales (B. physalus) in Greenland is subject to a variety of political pressures and regulations.Whales caught for subsistence purposes are to be used only for local consumption and may not be exported.The Greenland parliament regulates minke and fin whaling by, in part, requiring that whalers have a full-time hunting license, reside in Greenland, and have a “close affiliation” with Greenlandic society, a special whaling permit issued for each whale taken, and, at minimum, a 50 mm harpoon canon with a penthrite grenade (if a fishing vessel is used, the harpoon canon offers the best method for killing the animal).The Home Rule Government, in conjunction with the national hunters and fishers association (KNAPK) and the nationwide municipal government organization (KANUKOKA), allocates IWC quotas for minke and fin whales. After a municipality receives its annual quota consultations take place with the local hunter and fisher associations and quotas are assigned to vessels and collective hunters.
Marine mammal hunters have been subject to international protests and bans on marine mammal products since the early 1980s.The EU has maintained its 1983 trade ban on sealskins for certain species of seal pups, the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act remains in place, and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (and its Commission – the IWC), sets quotas for aboriginal subsistence whaling. In addition, environmental and animal welfare organizations (e.g., Greenpeace, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the World Wildlife Fund) continue to criticize and protest against marine mammal utilization. Indigenous arctic peoples argue against restrictions on marine mammal hunting on the basis that the targeted animals are not endangered and that protests are not based on science, but on ethics particular to industrialized country politics.
Commercial and non-commercial fishing and hunting practices are inextricably linked and are integral to the social, economic, and cultural lives of Greenlanders. Marine resource use in general, entails cultural and social organization on many levels, through shared language, transmission of appropriate behavior, validation of identity, and reinforcement of social ties and kinship networks. Sealing and whaling, in particular, reflect the traditional social order of the communities and reinforce ties within and among families and households.The consumption, distribution, and exchange of marine resource products integrate the households and the community through a complex exchange network that reinforces cultural identity and social networks and provides important foodstuffs to households that are not able to hunt themselves.
Climate change, pollution, and governance are likely to be major factors in a vulnerability study of marine resource use communities in Greenland. Climate change and pollution could alter the availability, conditions, and health of animals such as seals and halibut, while changes in climate could affect the distribution and migration patterns of these animals, as well as ice and snow cover. Diminishing ice and snow cover could also have serious impacts on the mobility, hunting, and fishing activities of the residents of these communities. Climate alterations could further affect the ability of hunters and fishers to interpret and predict weather in planning safe and successful harvesting activities. Changes in politics, policies, and markets at local, national, and transnational levels could have negative or positive effects on the communities. Trade bans on marine mammal products, the increasing role that Home Rule and municipal governments play at the local level in towns and settlements, the growing importance of transnational policymaking forums, the financial support that individuals receive through transfer payments and subsidies, and consumption patterns of people near and far all have a bearing on the state of human–environment systems and their economies, social lives, and cultures. A vulnerability study would be useful in exploring how factors such as climate, pollution, and governance interact, their implications for human–environment systems, the resources Greenlanders might draw upon in reacting to social and environmental change, and the strategies that could be effective in guarding against negative consequences while capitalizing on opportunities.
Chapter 17: Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors and Resilience
17.2. Conceptual approaches to vulnerability assessments
17.2.1. A framework for analyzing vulnerability
17.2.2. Focusing on interactive changes and stresses in the Arctic
17.2.3. Identifying coping and adaptation strategies
17.3. Methods and models for vulnerability analysis
17.4. Understanding and assessing vulnerabilities through case studies
17.4.1. Candidate vulnerability case studies
17.4.2. A more advanced vulnerability case study
17.5. Insights gained and implications for future vulnerability assessments
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