By: Izzy Schwarze
Isn’t it ironic that the people who contribute the least to climate change are the ones who most feel the impacts of it? Climate change occurs when the temperature of our earth changes. The planet’s temperature has increased by roughly one degree fahrenheit within the past 100 years, and this little increase is causing major problems. Most scientists have agreed that climate change can be linked back to humanity. The cars we drive, the foods we eat, and the way we heat our homes all require energy that we harvest by burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. These gases are burned, released into the air, and they cause our earth’s climate to heat up.
Unfortunately, the people who burn the least amount of fuels and live in the most natural way are the ones who have felt the most impacts of climate change. Indigenous populations are groups of people who have retained the same cultural characteristics as their descendants over thousands of years, and there are about about 370 million people spread over 70 countries. These people tend to live sustainably, using only what the earth has to offer. This means that they have felt the worst of the increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels that are direct results of global warming.
According to the United Nations, indigenous people, an already vulnerable population, deal with the consequences of global warming every day. In the Himalayas, the aboriginals who dwell in the mountains depend on the glaciers for a water source. Because of rising temperatures, the glaciers have been melting quicker, resulting in a shrinking amount that are available for these people can use. Also, melting glaciers have resulted in avalanches, destroying homes and even taking lives. Located in the Kalahari Basin of Africa, many indigenous goat and cattle farmers have lost vegetation due to rising temperatures and have been forced to live on government subsidies terrain, which displaces these people from their homes of thousands of years and forces them into poverty.
Many of these tribes, who have already faced years of marginalized oppression and disaster, are not going down without a fight. In Guyana, where the people are susceptible to many droughts, indigenous people have begun to move from their homes to new, moist areas where their cassava plants will thrive. Indigenous tribes in North America, many whom face insane poverty, have begun to invest in renewable energy sources in order to make a profit as well as save their homelands, especially in the Great Plains regions.
It is up to us, the consumers and producers of climate change, to help these people. Buying local, walking or riding your bike places, and eliminating meat from your diet are just a few of the simple ways that you can help fight this catastrophe. Not only will you be helping the earth, but you will be fighting for those people who are most vulnerable.
Images via Creative Commons.