Indigenous cultures around the world are facing increasing threats with the effects of climate change. In addition to the myriad organisms condemned to extinction by climate change, many indigenous human cultures are also in danger. Entire island populations must relocate as rising ocean levels bring devastating storm surges, food supplies for tropical communities are becoming scarcer, and remote Arctic populations are becoming more isolated as polar ice vanishes.
Thomas Thornton, an arctic anthropologist, explains that Alaskan Eskimo settlements like Kivalina and Shishmaref are “literally being washed away,” due to melting ice and rising seas.
Chief Kotok, of the Kamayurá in the Amazon, explains that hotter temperatures and decreased rain in his region have led to collapses in the fish stocks they depend on for survival. Additionally, the Kamayurá are now experiencing forest fires. Xingu National Park was burned for the first time in 2007, destroying thousands of acres of forest.
“The whole Xingu was burning — it stung our lungs and our eyes,” Chief Kotok said. “We had nowhere to escape. We suffered along with the animals.”