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Thread: Remote Eskimo villages: planning for food shortages, climate change

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Remote Eskimo villages: planning for food shortages, climate change

    Question:
    What, if any, are the medium- and long-term planning strategies for remote Eskimo villages?



    "Alaska Village Grapples With Collapse in Walrus Harvest: Residents rush to find alternate sources of food before winter" (WSJ article)
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...,d.dmg&cad=rja

    WSJ Slideshow @above article gives a quality visual perspective:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...8.html#slide/1


    Snippets:
    Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell declared an economic disaster for Gambell and its sister village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, freeing up more state resources such as possible grants to help the stricken communities.

    State and federal marine experts, meanwhile, say the collapse of the walrus harvest is another example of how wild weather is altering life in native villages like these that still follow a subsistence lifestyle. Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, said the Arctic's warming climate is likely to make it harder for such villages to catch enough walruses and other prey animals and fish, which scientists say are likely to fall in number in coming years due to diminished ice.
    Other towns in Alaska have offered to donate reindeer and fish, but tribal officials say that wouldn't be enough to offset the shortage.
    Many Eskimos here depend on sales of walrus ivory carvings to supplement their incomes.
    The reduced ice protection from ocean storms has resulted in so much coastal erosion that some villages have laid plans to relocate to drier ground. State officials said the climate-change threat comes on top of others, including rising fuel costs.

    "They've had to adapt to other changes," said Larry Hartig, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. "Will they be able to adapt this time?"
    More people, meanwhile, are turning to the Gambell Native Store for food, where a four-pound fryer chicken costs $25.
    Last edited by Shellac And Vinyl VelocitY; 15 Oct 2013 at 8:53 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian chupacabra's avatar
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    Lots of villages are working to shift off of fossil fuels, which will make those communities better able to adapt to the loss of subsistence food sources. A few have pilot ag programs (food crops and reindeer herding). A common complaint I hear is the price of gas makes it harder and harder to run small engines and having to cover greater distances will make that worse.

    The Native Corps and the state will have to use stop gap measures ($$$ to fly stuff in), for the most part. One of the problems here is the fact that these communities were traditionally very mobile and could follow shifting wildlife populations or suddenly shifting shorelines. They can't do that now because since the 1950s they have been tied to very specific locations. For example, I was out at Shishmaref a couple of years ago. The village's shoreline is being eroded away and about have the town is gone. This wasn't a big deal when everyone lived in sod pithouses (and that was up to the late 50s). You can't as easily move a modern structure and the replacements cost many times more than they would in the lower 48 due to high shipping and construction costs.

    Many of these communities will disappear and the populations will relocate to regional hubs or to the road system. This is already happening and I suspect it will speed up.
    You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian chupacabra's avatar
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    Here's a couple recent articles that discuss related issues, if you are interested.

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/articl...inds-potential

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/articl...aurant-opening
    You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.

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