Photo via AFP
Just as a band of Carteret Islanders are abandoning their homes due to the effects of climate change--becoming the world's first climate change refugees--word has come that rising sea levels and more severe weather patterns may claim an even greater victim: the entire cultural legacy of Australia's native Aborigines. It would be the world's first case of climate change-caused "cultural genocide". Could climate change really wipe an entire, culturally rich people off the map?A recent report says that it's not only possible, but probable--yet how would this happen?
According to AFP,
Climate change would force Australia's Aborigines off their traditional lands, resulting in "cultural genocide" and environmental degradation, a human rights watchdog warned on Monday.
The culture is thousands of years old, but is nonetheless delicate enough to be wiped entirely away by climate change--that's the consensus of a report recently completed by the Human Rights Commission. How would it happen?
Rising sea levels and soaring temperatures would make their homelands uninhabitable, severing spiritual links and laying waste to the environment, according to the commission's annual Native Title Report.
And the problems would be many:
"Problems that indigenous Australians will encounter include people being forced to leave their lands, particularly in coastal areas. Dispossession and a loss of access to traditional lands, waters, and natural resources may be described as cultural genocide; a loss of ancestral, spiritual, totemic and language connections to lands and associated areas."
As if all that wasn't enough, the Aborigines food security will be threatened, they'll be much more susceptible to diseases like malaria and dengue fever. 80% of Aborigines rely on the natural environment for their livelihood--all of which become endangered as climate change grows more severe.
And once again, as with the Carteret Islanders, we've got a case of a people paying dearly for the coal-shovelin', SUV drivin', plastic manufacturin' ways of Westerners. Sad.