A global responsibility to help vulnerable communities adapt

May 28, 2009

For one international community - the 165,000 strong Inuit community dispersed across the Arctic coastline in small, remote coastal settlements in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Siberia - it is already too late to prevent some of the negative effects of climate change.

James D. Ford from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, is today, Thursday, 28 May, presenting a paper published in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Letters, "Dangerous and the importance of adaptation for the Arctic's Inuit population," at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences annual conference.

Policy makers and scientists at 'Congress 2009 — Capital Connections: nation, terroir, territoire', will be listening to Ford's research which details why we must all act now to help the Inuit and other vulnerable communities adapt.

Increasing sea levels, coastal erosion, changing sea ice conditions, and permafrost thaw threatens municipal infrastructure, such as transport links, the survival of Inuit subsistence hunting and fishing activities, and the fabric of Inuit culture and society. With many scientists agreeing that we are near to or beyond the "tipping point" for climate change, there is still a need to reduce , but we must now focus on how we can help those who are going to be hit hard by climate changes already well under way.

Ford's paper provides a summary of the latest work in adaptation science and concludes with the need to set up a vulnerable people's adaptation fund. He states that it can only work if support is provided by the largest state actors. Short term investment now can help vulnerable peoples prevent risk but also increase preparedness to reduce susceptibility.

As one of the first regions to experience climate change, the international community's response to the Arctic communities' crisis will set an important global precedent, especially as Inuit communities share many characteristics with developing nations around the world, many of which are also at risk, such as limited access to health services, high unemployment and concerns regarding basic services like the quality of drinking water.

As Ford writes, "For the Arctic's Inuit population, adaptation offers a tangible way in which dangerous climate change can be potentially avoided and livelihoods protected. Realistically, it offers the only means of achieving these goals given the absence of political will globally to stabilize emissions at a level that will prevent significant change in the Arctic climate system, or even the possibility of preventing such change."

More information: stacks.iop.org/ERL/4/024006

Source: Institute of Physics

Explore further: China says massive area of its soil polluted

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Arctic sea ice declines again in 2004

Oct 04, 2004

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have found that the extent of Arctic sea ice, the floating mass of ice that covers the Arctic Ocean, is continuing its rapid decline. The latest satellite inf ...

Inuit are on the right track

Feb 04, 2009

Inuit trails are more than merely means to get from A to B. In reality, they represent a complex social network spanning the Canadian Arctic and are a distinctive aspect of the Inuit cultural identity. And what is remarkable ...

King tides -- a glimpse of future sea level rise

Jan 12, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Tomorrow, beach-goers will get a glimpse of what our coastlines may look like in 50 years, when New South Wales and South East Queensland experience the highest daytime ‘king tides’ forecast ...

Arctic heats up more than other places

Jan 16, 2009

Temperature change in the Arctic is happening at a greater rate than other places in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is expected to continue in the future.

Recommended for you

More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows

8 hours ago

Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) May 28, 2009
As Ford writes, "For the Arctic's Inuit population, adaptation offers a tangible way in which dangerous climate change can be potentially avoided and livelihoods protected.
Adaptation, like moving off of the ice, ceasing to be a subsistence farming and hunting society, merging with the general populace, evolving their society perhaps? If this is the case, the warmist argument ceases to have any relevance.
5 / 5 (1) May 28, 2009
If we are beyond the "tipping point" then nothing we do will matter, the change is self sustaining and you might as well sit back and enjoy the warmer weather.

More news stories

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...