Environment and Politics: Alaskans Adapt to a Changing Climate

by Russell Salazar

While climate change mitigation must continue, societies are marching on into an inevitably warmer world. The ability for a community to adapt to a new environment will be a crucial characteristic in the coming century. Wilson (2013) presents a study of an Alaskan village to show how political and social changes are correlated with a community’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The paper focuses on the subsistence livelihoods of the Koyukon Athabascan people, describing major changes since the 1950s that altered their climate adaptability. These included an increased emphasis on formal education, a greater exposure to market economies, as well as the legislation and bureaucracy introduced by the government, all of which had a profound impact on the Koyukon Athabascan way of life. Wilson concludes by encouraging more cautious and deeper ethical considerations with regard to placing political constraints on communities. Continue reading