For over a decade I have pointed out the commonality in environmental and cultural issues between the Yukon Kuskokwim delta villages and the small island nations, especially those in the other side of the Pacific basin. Formally, they are called Small Island Developing States. The formal SIDS have established sustainable policies, appropriate technology, and world-class community-based science all of which should be models for Alaska. (for example, see the Fiji Map Server in the sidebar,
Manuals Available to Assist Communities with Solid Waste Planning and Education
, and 1918 pandemic in Polynesia and Fiji (small island developing states)

Alaska state and local governments still don’t seem to understand this. For example, Bethel has no plans for dealing with changing sea levels and loss of tundra ponds. The state until this year, refused to consider the impact of warming climate on village and city infrastructure when permitting landfills. On the other hand, the city manager of Emmonak has been trying for several years to get assistance from state and university to develop appropriate electrical generation technology, based upon the traditional Yukon River fishwheel, to end their dependence on fossil fuels. I applied for a Denali Commission / Rasmuson grant last year, about $10,000 (sic, ten-thousand US dollars, not 10 million) to test a dry sanitation technology developed in “third-world” countries for use in our semi-arid region. The project to improve sanitation and reduce water consumption was deemed outside the agencies’ programmatic interests.

Canada, fortunately, thinks otherwise.

TORONTO, Canada (The Catholic Register) – An ice-fisher from Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, and a sugar-cane farmer from the Fiji Islands have more in common than some may think.

Tropical islands in the south Pacific and the polar regions are two areas that stand to face the most immediate and dramatic effects of global warming, said David Hik, a biology professor at the University of Alberta in western Canada.

Island countries are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, while melting ice poses its own set of challenges to the Arctic, said Hik, director of the Canadian chapter for the International Polar Year, a two-year project allowing researchers from 63 countries to collaborate and gain insight into the Arctic and Antarctic.

“(Global warming) is not isolated by geography, the whole world is connected through the hydrological system,” said Hik. “Changes in the polar region of the Arctic have effects in other parts of the world.” …

“There’s always been a real recognition of our diocese that research and understanding of the Arctic is important.”

The diocese sits on the board for the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, a research center for Arctic studies co-founded by former Churchill-Hudson Bay Bishop Omer Robidoux. The center encourages aboriginal people to take courses so there is some understanding between science and local knowledge. [and vice versa, mpb]

And preparedness isn’t just about “don’t panic; cook your bird”. The Canadian churches seem to understand this. Our local churches have a role in preparedness as well, in addition to that needed for the Guard in the Iraq war.

I suppose we’d better ask, Where is… Bethel, Canada?

“What I fear is these changes could be so rapid, the upheaval could be very disruptive for these communities, but that requires being prepared, having good information and sufficient time to plan,” Hik said, explaining the better integrated faith communities are into the social, cultural and spiritual life of the local communities, the better they will be able to help.

“A strong community that can make good decisions on how to prepare for change and adapt to change will be able to maintain its culture,” he added. Read more […]

see related posts at Grassroots Science, YKAlaska
Preparedness network for non-profits and church-based groups,
Top 50 reading list for emergency management
Where is… Bethel water?
What impact will Iraq war call-up have
Where is Bethel (year 2050)
Where is Bethel… 2040
Where is… Bethel coastline 22nd century

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