The scale of human impact on the
global environment has been marked and measured in precise detail, with
sometimes not so precisely placed accountability. Temperatures are slowly
increasing globally, and science has established the correlation between an increase
in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and an increase in ambient temperature; yet,
despite markers throughout recent history that identify the anthropogenic pollutants
arising from industry and technology that contribute to atmospheric carbon
dioxide levels, the distribution of the carbon dioxide budget is hotly debated.
Climatic changes in the global environment have always had broad impacts, and
sometimes mass extinctions have resulted, but with the current crises having the
distinction of being a human generated impact it suggests potentiality for a
moderated outcome (Mulder and Coppolillo 2005: 3). Building connections between
local and global components by integrating the TEK qualitative scale of
analysis and quantitative big data models creates a wider base of knowledge,
and a more comprehensive toolkit capable of addressing climate change impact
from a more wholistic perspective (Ingold 2011: 13-15). This is not to say the
planet will be left unscarred from the impact, and it presupposes firmly establishing
human accountability will motivate change quickly enough to mitigate the
resulting effects of climate change.

            The idea that human activity might
effect the planet’s climate was first introduced over a century ago, but it is
only in the past sixty years that concerns about the impact of human generated global
climate change on the planet’s environment have been vigorously debated, first
in the scientific community, then in public venues with the rise of
environmentalism in the 1970s. After decades of intense research on an
international scale, including studies of prehistoric climates, computer models
and quantitative data confirm that increased levels of carbon dioxide contribute
to increased temperatures on the planet. But, models differ, and opinions vary
on whether those temperatures fall into a manageable or catastrophic range
despite the adverse effects of global warming already visible in some regions.
Historically, it has been recognized that natural resource-dependent indigenous
populations are the most vulnerable to activities that negatively impact the
environment, and it is acknowledged they inhabit some of the most climatically
vulnerable ecosystems on the planet, yet, until recently, climate change dialog
has failed to include the international indigenous voice, compounding the
dilemma associated with climate change. When the indigenous communities were
invited into the conversation, it became obvious their generations deep
knowledge of their ethno-botanical environments, also known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK),
could contribute significantly to conservation policy regarding the ecosystem
management of their lands threatened with the impact of climate change.

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