Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Akwesasne
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Adaptation (climate change): actions in response to actual or expected climate change and its effects, that lessen harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. It includes reducing the vulnerability of people, places, and ecosystems to the impacts of climate change.
Adaptive Capacity: the ability of a system to accommodate or respond to the changes in climate with minimum disruption or cost. Generally, systems that have high adaptive capacities are better able to deal with climate change.
Climate: the “average weather” generally over a period of three decades. Measures of climate include temperature, precipitation, and wind.
Climate Change: any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period of time (decades or longer). Climate change may result from natural factors and processes and from human activities that change the atmosphere’s composition and land surface.
Global Warming: average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere, which can contribute to changes in global climate patterns. Global warming can occur from a variety of causes, both natural and human induced.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG): any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere; examples include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapor.
Hazards are the direct effects of climate change, including changes in temperature, precipitation, extreme events, and water resource quality and availability.
Impacts are the effects on human and natural systems of these climate change hazards; more vulnerable communities will experience more pronounced impacts of climate change.
Mitigation (climate change): actions that reduce the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; includes reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and enhancing sinks (things that absorb more greenhouse gases than they emit). Examples include switching to renewable energy sources and implementing energy efficiency measures.
Planning Area: this is an area in which the tribal government manages, plans, or makes policy affecting the services and activities associated with built, human, and natural systems. For example, within the sector Utilities, you might have planning areas of Water and Electricity.
Preparedness Actions: actions or activities that the tribe could take to achieve its climate change preparedness goals.
Preparedness Goals: what the tribe wants to accomplish in the priority planning areas through preparedness actions.
Priority planning areas: planning areas of particular importance to the tribal government or community which are vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Resilience: ability of a social or ecological system to absorb disturbances while retaining the same basic structure and ways of functioning, the capacity for self-organization, and the capacity to absorb stress and change.
Risk: Risk = Consequence of an impact X Probability or likelihood that the impact will happen.
Sector: general grouping used to describe any resource, ecological system, species, management area, etc. that may be affected by climate change. For example, Transportation, Utilities, Water Resources, Forest Resources, Human Health, or Cultural Resources and Traditions.
Sensitivity: how much a system is directly or indirectly affected by changes in climate conditions (e.g., temperature and precipitation) or specific climate change impacts (e.g., sea level rise, increased water temperature). If a system is likely to be affected as a result of projected climate change, it should be considered sensitive to climate change.
Vulnerability: the susceptibility of a system to harm from climate change impacts. It’s a function of how sensitive the system is to climate and the adaptive capacity of the system to respond to such changes. Generally, systems that are sensitive to climate and less able to adapt to changes are considered to be vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Climate change is leading to global temperature increases, changes in precipitation, and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events. These changes are already being observed in northern and western New York, as temperatures have increased and snowfall has declined. Many activities that are traditionally practiced by Tribal communities and which continue to be important culturally and economically to these communities, such as fishing, medicinal plant harvest, and care of natural ecosystem health, are tied directly to climate. Because of their close ties to the land, these communities are more sensitive to shifts in climate than other non- Tribal communities in the same general geographic area. As a result, in the Tribal lands of Northern and Western New York, the risks of climate change are a particularly important problem.
The risks of climate change to SRMT cannot be effectively dealt with and the opportunities cannot be effectively exploited without a clear plan for adaptation. This includes steps for aligning Tribal government policies with climate change, for developing key institutional capabilities, and for making needed infrastructure investments. Developing such a plan should involve a combination of high-quality quantitative analysis and consultation of Tribal experts and community members.
One of my grants is about Climate Change Adaptation Planning so my staff and I thought it would be fun to have a workshop for the youth (teenagers). After all they are the ones that are going to have to deal with it all. We held this special event at the Akwesasne Boys and Girls Club, (Niawen/Thank you Jessica and staff). Julia Jacobs created the agenda and set it all up for Ohiarihko:wa/July 8-11, 2013. So Monday morning we started, first we talked a little bit about Climate Change and why it is important for us to be aware. For Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons we had field trips lined up. Monday we went to the community garden located just past Beaver Meadow Road. What a beautiful garden, the youth enjoyed fresh picked green beans and walking around the area. The keepers of the garden said they would welcome anytime for people to come help keep the weeds out, so the ABGC youth went out and helped them a few weeks later. Tuesday the Akwesasne Housing Authority gave us a tour of the "Green" neighborhood they built (Niawen/Thank you Retha and Michel). Wednesday the kids took a trip to the Solid waste transfer station and recycling depot (Niawen/Thank you Larry). Before hand Larry showed them how to reduce your waste by recycling and composting.
We also wanted to make sure they had some tools to be self sustaining so we had demonstrations and hands-on classes. One of the demonstrations we had was by Tony David, Water Resources Manager, Mary LaFrance, Environmental Health Educator and Heather Pontius, Registered Dietician Let's Get Healthy. Tony filleted a walleye and a bass and Heather and Mary cooked it on the grill so it was very healthy with fresh vegetables. Even kids that said they don’t normally eat fish came back for seconds.
For the hands-on classes the youth canned tomatoes and made plantain slave. One thing that really shocked me was that the boys especially loved canning the tomatoes and they were very proud of it. Jokingly I said we used their canned tomatoes for the spaghetti sauce and they did not think that was funny at all. Anyway, they got to take their tomatoes home with them. The plantain salve was little les hands-on. The kids got to go into the yard and picked the plantain, they washed it and Julia prepared the salve. For safety reasons we didn’t feel that the kids should do the prep but they each took home a jar.
We also had speakers. We actually brought in one speaker from Grand Portage, Minnesota, Seth Moore. Seth is someone who Julia and I have seen out at conferences and heard on webinars presenting on Climate Change issues. The Grand Portage band of Chippewa, have been dealing with some climate change issues like "Trout" Lake having no trout and their moose population down to 1. This allowed Seth to talk about the issues and things they have done to help mitigate it. It was a real asset having Seth here and I think the kids enjoyed it too. On the last day of this very exhausting week, we had Les Benedict present on Black Ash Trees and following him was Setanta O'Ceillaigh talk about historical climate change and trees.
Overall, I think the workshop went well and I am hoping the kids will take something from it. We did give them garden seeds, medicinal herb seeds, Smencils, key chains with lights, first aid kits all in a very nice backpack. Niawen/Thank you to Julia for putting this all together and Niawen/Thank you to the kids for coming back every day.
Climate Change Adaptation Plan
Along with the workshop this grant had the task of creating a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Akwesasne. Over the past few years at events such as the wellness day and seed and tree giveaway I have been talking to community members about what is important and what they most feared when it came to climate change. From this information and traditional teachings the plan has been created. I would like to present it to the community for comments. It is available electronically or hard copy. Please contact the Angela or Julia at the environment division at 518-358-5937 or by email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The plan was created based on the Thanksgiving Address and I feel it really covers what we have and the importance of protecting it. so for now and the next seven generations let's do our part to be sure our children and their children and their children have what we have.
Links to Climate Change Sites
- Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF):
- Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals:
-Sue Wotkyns http://www4.nau.edu/itep/climatechange/
- Northeast Climate Science Center:
- US Environmental protection Agency:
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
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