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finding 26.4 : key-message-26-4
The subsistence activities, culture, health, and infrastructure of Alaska’s Indigenous peoples and communities are subject to a variety of impacts, many of which are expected to increase in the future (likely, high confidence). Flexible, community-driven adaptation strategies would lessen these impacts by ensuring that climate risks are considered in the full context of the existing sociocultural systems (likely, medium confidence).
This finding is from chapter 26 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.
Process for developing key messages:
The Alaska regional chapter was developed through public input via workshops and teleconferences and review of relevant literature, primarily post 2012. Formal and informal technical discussions and narrative development were conducted by the chapter lead and contributing authors via email exchanges, teleconferences, webinars, in-person meetings, and public meetings. The authors considered inputs and comments submitted by the public, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and federal agencies. The author team also engaged in targeted consultations during multiple exchanges with contributing authors, who provided additional expertise on subsets of the Traceable Account associated with each Key Message.
Description of evidence base:
Many studies have examined different aspects of Alaska’s Indigenous communities, including the ways climate change is affecting or can affect subsistence,e0b0f2a6-5ac8-4196-8634-6123511e0051,9fd26f3c-5ee6-41a8-8c6e-8fe47fc4e082,517b1ed1-b4ef-4e1a-8df4-3da04426f2b1,6738a142-de7c-403d-b139-46649598f841,eac03a8d-a422-4973-bfcf-b4e04916cb81,0a6d16f1-2362-46a1-8bfa-622dc2a43268,bef0d120-0488-41e2-aec3-01b46b6082fd,6ca7b754-3107-47a4-9365-14330ae9c792,a6ae623d-3590-43fc-afb3-d16514408a88,29d05c83-65ba-47ed-b102-d5aeb5e5ef98,c34e24fd-1d3f-406c-9697-a1b8324b7c84 culture,0a6d16f1-2362-46a1-8bfa-622dc2a43268,f7ec5787-ad3d-4d03-a770-c7874345a1c3,d015da67-1200-4041-8ea3-322fa36270d1 health,2ae3020a-26d0-41c8-a079-f5d129f2e183,6738a142-de7c-403d-b139-46649598f841,93caee88-a37f-47dc-9b76-4351c6f122f5 and infrastructure.269e8640-18d1-4f61-aa0f-55eb3fbea2d2,b7e764c8-8912-4d18-8dd3-1555ab8da1c2,966f8ab9-354f-4acf-b2e1-51e772e1e4ec,b03d6c43-b97d-4702-98bb-440919824124 Alaska’s Indigenous peoples are increasingly involved in the research efforts, not just as informants or assistants but as those shaping and asking research questions and as those analyzing and interpreting the results of studies.2ae3020a-26d0-41c8-a079-f5d129f2e183,6738a142-de7c-403d-b139-46649598f841,0a6d16f1-2362-46a1-8bfa-622dc2a43268,5c547211-7e4d-49d0-bf7a-4764192301d9 As a result, research on the impacts of climate change on Alaska’s Indigenous peoples is increasingly focused on topics of direct relevance to daily lives and long-term/historical interests and is increasingly attentive to the context in which those changes occur. In other words, there is increasing confidence that the right questions are being asked and the answers are being interpreted in the right way.6738a142-de7c-403d-b139-46649598f841,0a6d16f1-2362-46a1-8bfa-622dc2a43268
New information and remaining uncertainties:
There is little question that climate change is having widespread and far-reaching impacts on Alaska’s Indigenous peoples. It is less clear, however, exactly which peoples and communities are responding to the changes they face. One community may be able to seize a new opportunity or may be able to adjust effectively to at least some forms of change, whereas another community will not be able to do either. More needs to be understood about these differences, the reasons for them, and how adaptability and resilience can be fostered.
It is also unclear how, exactly, the changes will influence one another as they occur in the context of all that is happening in Alaska Native life. For example, climate change may mean hunters have to travel farther to hunt. GPS allows for more reliable navigation, and four-stroke engines provide more confidence when traveling farther offshore. At the same time, rising fuel prices mean it is more expensive to travel far, perhaps limiting the ability of a hunter to take advantage of better navigation and motors. How these competing influences will balance out is difficult to say and requires more attention.
Assessment of confidence based on evidence:
There is high confidence that climate change is having far-reaching effects on Alaska’s Indigenous peoples. It is likely that most of these impacts will have negative effects, as they undermine existing behaviors, patterns, infrastructure, and expectations. It is also likely that there will continue to be some benefits and opportunities stemming from climate-related changes. There is medium confidence that the negative impacts can be reduced and the new opportunities maximized with appropriate policy and regulatory action, as not all aspects of change can be addressed in this way, and it is unclear whether such a systematic approach is plausible in light of the way programs and policies are administered in Alaska’s Indigenous communities.
- Indigenous frameworks for observing and responding to climate change in Alaska (0a6d16f1)
- Estimating future costs for Alaska public infrastructure at risk from climate change (269e8640)
- On the frontline: Tracking ocean acidification in an Alaskan shellfish hatchery (29d05c83)
- Linkages between human health and ocean health: A participatory climate change vulnerability assessment for marine mammal harvesters (2ae3020a)
- Effects of changing sea ice on marine mammals and subsistence hunters in northern Alaska from traditional knowledge interviews (517b1ed1)
- 2016-2017 Board of Game Proposal Book (5c547211)
- Alaskan Inuit Food Security Conceptual Framework: How to Assess the Arctic from an Inuit Perspective (6738a142)
- Sea-ice system services: A framework to help identify and meet information needs relevant for Arctic observing networks (6ca7b754)
- Climate change and health effects in Northwest Alaska (93caee88)
- Seasons of stress: Understanding the dynamic nature of people’s ability to respond to change and surprise (966f8ab9)
- Assessing the health effects of climate change in Alaska with community-based surveillance (9fd26f3c)
- Traditional knowledge of the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) around St. Lawrence Island, Alaska (a6ae623d)
- “Community work” in a climate of adaptation: Responding to change in rural Alaska (b03d6c43)
- Estimating wildfire response costs in Alaska's changing climate. (b7e764c8)
- Climate Change in Kivalina, Alaska: Strategies for Community Health (bef0d120)
- Changes in weather persistence: Insight from Inuit knowledge (c34e24fd)
- Haa Leelk'w Has Aani Saax'u / Our Grandparents' Names on the Land (d015da67)
- Arctic communities perceive climate impacts on access as a critical challenge to availability of subsistence resources (e0b0f2a6)
- A Bering Strait indigenous framework for resource management: Respectful seal and walrus hunting (eac03a8d)
- The Meaning of Ice: People and Sea Ice in Three Arctic Communities (f7ec5787)
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