Alaskan Natives Use Internet to Connect About Climate Change


Alaskan fish caught with internal discolorations. Image via: Nunat.net

Living in northern Alaska in winter can be a bit like living in no-mans land. So what do you do when you notice weird things going on in nature and want to know if you're not alone? You create a website, of course, and connect virtually with your neighbors, reports the Cordova Times.Kind of like the idea that, "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound," natives in Alaska want to make sure that if they are the only ones in these remote places to experience these changes that their voices are still heard. The designs on the website may be simple, but the information is very action-oriented. There is a space to upload images of what they are seeing, a calendar for organizing meetings, and several discussion boards. One thing noticed is "a polar bear lying on the beach after swimming to shore in Barrow last fall - something scientists say is becoming more common because of receding sea ice."

Another popular section includes deformed fish catches and sightings. Apparently they are showing up more often and different villagers want to know if this is normal and if anyone else is finding similar oddities. There are "official" documentation forms to fill out so that the data collected is somewhat uniform. There are also question and answer sections to discuss what is "normal" and what is not. Other sections of the website include contaminant informaiton, climate change and resource development. In addition, there is a section where elders can report on they have seen change over time as well as

Scientists have long said that natives in the northern most parts of the world will be (and are) the first to see our changing climate. Things like the loss of polar bears and penguins we all know about, but smaller, "less-noticeable" things like flowers appearing sooner each season and animals unable to adapt to shorter seasons should also be noted. Now there is a way to keep the information together and discuss plans for the future. The website's name "Nunat" comes from a Yup'ik word for "land.":Cordova Times :Nunat.net
More on Climate Change in Alaska
Alaskan Eskimo Village Votes to Move Upstream to Avoid Climate Change Flooding
Global Warming Speeding Up Erosion in Alaska
Winds of Change Blowing Through Alaska
More Trees in the Arctic Could Mean...Worsening Climate Change

Tags: Alaska | Communities | Fish | Global Climate Change | Oceans

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