What is climate change? Climate has always changed over the ages of Mother Earth but during our time it’s noticeably different. The way we go about our daily lives is causing this change. Not only are we experiencing a rise in global temperature but it’s increasing at a faster rate than first predicted.
So, let’s break it down. National Geographic states that “Climate is the pattern of the weather conditions over a long period of time for a large area.” That measurement period has typically been 30 years according to the World Meteorological Organization. Climate has always gone through periods of change. There’s been seven ice ages and warming trends over the past 650,000 years. In terms of weather, it’s essentially what we see and experience on a daily basis like rain, snow and sun.
How does it work? When you look up in the sky all that is seen is the blue hue, stars or clouds. What you don’t see is the natural atmosphere which blankets the Earth. It contains gases which trap some of the sun’s heat making it warm enough for us to live on, which is a normal process. What’s causing the imbalance is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas released into the air over the past few hundred years. The excess CO2 gas produced over time comes from human activity (cars, factories, buildings, homes) and is the leading cause of increased gas emissions. The increased amount of gas is trapping the sun’s heat causing Earth’s temperature to rise, which is global warming.
What are some effects? As a planet we are experiencing effects from a changing climate. In the US we see headlines about flooding, fires, drought, extreme weather, and more. Some Alaskan communities have permanently lost their homes and land due to flooding from melting glacial ice and permafrost. In addition to disruptive changes and losses, there will be species on the Earth that will benefit from warming temperatures. However not all are beneficial to human existence, like disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks. The habitat range for sugar maple is expected to be negatively impacted in the coming years, as well as the conditions for good sap production, due to climate change.
How are we dealing with it? The Nation formed a Climate Change Task Force in October 2020 which is discussing ways to address this issue. At this point, the Task Force has 22 participants generating collective work and expertise shared by department personnel and community members. Our goal is to create a Seneca Nation Adaptation Plan that outlines strategies and approaches to address potential impacts from our changing climate. The first step is coordinating our efforts around outreach and collecting data. You can help by completing our survey that will be released shortly. We know surveys aren’t always popular, but you are the key to a successful plan, so we want to hear from you! Following the survey, our next step is to begin gathering relevant local and regional data, reach out to target groups, assess what our vulnerabilities and risks might be, and plan accordingly.
The climate change survey is available here. Current results of the survey are below.