Advertisement

Ignoring Indigenous peoples—climate change, oil development, and Indigenous rights clash in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

  • Emilie Zentner
  • Maik Kecinski
  • Angeline Letourneau
  • Debra DavidsonEmail author
Article

Abstract

The politics of climate change are the politics of energy and in turn the politics of Indigenous people’s rights. The clash of these political realms is nowhere more vivid than the north slope of Alaska, where the acute impacts of climate change to the livelihoods of Alaska Indigenous peoples places energy development decision-making in a new light. Considering the elevated exposure and sensitivity to the impacts of climate change, the development of oil and gas resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska will exacerbate the acute livelihood challenges already being faced by the Indigenous peoples of this region. The tendency to marginalize the rights of Indigenous peoples in US natural resource development planning, moreover, constitutes a missed opportunity for advancing development decision-making toward more effective socio-ecological planning in the context of climate change. Indigenous communities in the North are uniquely qualified, both as sovereign peoples and as knowledge holders, to enrich government policy and decision-making about development in the context of climate change, constituting strong justification for their involvement in the planning process. This article integrates recently published research with an in-depth in-person interview with the Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. We argue that accommodation of the cumulative threats posed by climate change and development to the rights of Indigenous communities in oil development plans for the Coastal Plain area of the ANWR will be essential to protect the livelihoods of these communities and the ecosystems within which they live.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Bernadette Demientieff, Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins) for her participation. The authors are grateful to Jacob Fooks, Kaitlynn Ritchie, Sandeep Mohapatra, two anonymous referees, and the editor for their insightful comments which improved this article.

Author contributions

Zentner contributed to the design, interview, and writing of the manuscript; Kecinski contributed to the design, interview, GIS map, and writing of the manuscript; Letourneau contributed GIS map and writing of the manuscript; Davidson contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

References

  1. Alaska Regional Assessment Group (1999) The potential consequences of climate variability and change: Alaska. Center for Global Change and Arctic Research, University of Alaska. December, FairbanksGoogle Scholar
  2. Anaya JS (2015) Report of the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples on extractive industries and indigenous peoples. Arizona J Int Comparative Law 32:109–142Google Scholar
  3. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) (2007) Arctic Oil and Gas 2007. Oslo, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  4. Bark RH, Garrick DE, Robinson CJ, Jackson S (2012) Adaptive basin governance and the prospects for meeting indigenous water claims. Environ Sci Policy 19-20:169–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berkman PA, Vylegzhanin AN (2013) The challenges of oil spill response in the Arctic. In: Berkman PA, Vylegzhanin AN (eds) Environmental security in the Arctic Ocean. Springer, Netherlands, pp 255–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brace C, Geoghegan H (2011) Human geographies of climate change: landscape, temporality, and lay knowledges. Prog Hum Geogr 35(3):284–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brinkman TJ, Hansen WD, Stuart Chapin F III, Kofinas G, BurnSilver S, Scott Rupp T (2016) Arctic communities perceive climate impacts on access as a critical challenge to availability of subsistence resources. Clim Chang 139:413–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Council of Yukon First Nations (1993) Umbrella Final Agreement, c. 12. https://cyfn.ca/ufa/. Accessed 19 Jan 2019
  9. Couzin J (2007) Polar science: opening doors to native knowledge. Science 315(March 16):1518–1519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dunlap RE, van Liere KD (1984) Commitment to the Dominant Social Paradigm and Concern for Environmental Quality. Soc Sci Q 65:1013–1028Google Scholar
  11. Ford J (2012) Indigenous health and climate change. Am J Public Health 102(7):1260–1266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gerrard E (2008) Impacts and opportunities of climate change: indigenous participation in environmental markets. Native Title Res Unit 3(13):1–14Google Scholar
  13. Gilberthorpe E, Hilson G (eds) (2014) Natural resource extraction and indigenous livelihoods: development challenges in an era of globalization. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Global Affairs Canada (2018) Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on the conservation of the porcupine caribou herd. http://www.treaty-accord.gc.ca/text-texte.aspx?id=100687. Accessed 19 Jan 2019
  15. Green D, Billy J, Tapin A (2010) Indigenous Australian’s knowledge of weather and climate. Clim Chang 100:337–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gwich’in Niinstayaa 2012 (2012) Resolution to protect the birthplace and nursery grounds of the porcupine Caribou herd. Gwich’in steering Committee. July 27, 2012. NWT, Fort McPhersonGoogle Scholar
  17. Gwich’in Steering Committee (2019) Caribou People. http://ourarcticrefuge.org/about-the-gwichin/caribou-people/. Accessed 19 Jan 2019
  18. Hahn R, Passell P (2001) The economics of allowing more U.S. oil drilling. Energy Econ 32(3):638–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hassol SJ (2004) Impacts of a warming Arctic: Arctic climate impact assessment. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  20. Houseknecht DW, Bird KJ (2006) Oil and gas resources of the Arctic Alaska Petroleum Province. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1732-A. https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/pp1732/pp1732a/pp1732a.pdf. Accessed 24 Jan 2019
  21. HR 1146 Statement (March 26, 2019) Statement of Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director, Gwich’in Steering Committee to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing “The Need to Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain” on H.R. 1146, The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection ActGoogle Scholar
  22. Hulme M (2011) Meet the humanities. Nat Clim Chang 1(4):179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Indigenous Environmental Services, Jeffries S, Devagiri (2008) A changing climate: indigenous engagement with climate change – impacts, related regulation and the green economy. University of Technology Sydney, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, pp 1–27Google Scholar
  24. IPCC (2018) 2018: Summary for policymakers. In: Masson-Delmotte V et al (eds) Global warming of 1.5°C. an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. World Meteorological Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  25. Kotchen MJ, Burger NE (2007) Should we drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? An economic perspective. Energy Policy 35(9):4720–4729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Laidler G (2006) Inuit and scientific perspectives on the relationship between sea ice and climate change: the ideal complement? Clim Chang 78(2)Google Scholar
  27. Laidler G et al (2009) Travelling and hunting in a changing Arctic: assessing Inuit vulnerability to sea ice change in Igloolik, Nunavut. Clim Chang 94:363–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Larsen JN, Anisimov OA, Constable A, Hollowed AB, Maynard N, Prestrud P, Prowse TD, Stone JMR (2014) Polar regions. In: Barros VR et al (eds) Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part B: regional aspects. Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  29. Leduc T (2007) Sila dialogues on climate change: Inuit wisdom for a cross-cultural interdisciplinarity. Clim Chang 85(3)Google Scholar
  30. MacInnes A, Colchester M, Whitmore A (2017) Free, prior and informed consent: how to rectify the devastating consequences of harmful mining for indigenous peoples. Perspect Ecol Conserv 15(3):152–160Google Scholar
  31. Mosby I (2013) Administering colonial science: nutrition research and human biomedical experimentation in aboriginal communities and residential schools, 1942–1952. Soc Hist 46(1):145–172Google Scholar
  32. Natcher DC (2001) Land use research and the duty to consult: a misrepresentation of the aboriginal landscape. Land Use Policy 18(2):113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nursey-Bray M, Palmer R (2018) Country, climate change adaptation and colonisation: insights from an indigenous adaptation planning process, Australia. Heliyon 4.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2018
  34. Pacyna JM, Cousins IT, Halsall C, Rautio A, Pawlak J, Pacyna EG, Sundseth K, Wilson S, Munthe J (2015) Impacts on human health in the Arctic owing to climate-induced changes in contaminant cycling –the EU ArcRisk project policy outcome. Environ Sci Policy 50:200–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Parlee BL, Caine KJ (eds) (2018) When the caribou do not come: indigenous knowledge and adaptive management in the Western Arctic. UBC PressGoogle Scholar
  36. Parlee BL, Sandlos J, Natcher DC (2018) Undermining subsistence: barren-ground caribou in a ‘tragedy of open access’. Sci Adv 4(2):1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pennesi K, Arokium J, McBean G (2012) Integrating local and scientific weather knowledge as a strategy for adaptation to climate change in the Arctic. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 17:897–922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pincus R, Ali SH (2015) Diplomacy on ice: energy and the environment in the Arctic and Antarctic. Yale University Press, New HavenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Riedlinger D, Fikret Berkes F (2001) Contributions of traditional knowledge to understanding climate change in the Canadian Arctic. Polar Record 37(203)Google Scholar
  40. Sandlos J, Keeling A (2016) Aboriginal communities, traditional knowledge, and the environmental legacies of extractive development in Canada. Extractive Ind Soc 3:278–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shearer C (2011) Kivalina: a climate change story. Haymarket BooksGoogle Scholar
  42. Southcott C (2015) Some observations on the social economy in northern Canada. In: Southcott C (ed) Northern communities working together: the social economy of Canada’s north. University of Toronto Press, TorontoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tan P, Bowmer KH, Baldwin C (2012) Continued challenges in the policy and legal framework for collaborative water planning. J Hydrol 747:84–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. United Nations General Assembly resolution 61/295 (2007) United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, A/RES/61/295Google Scholar
  45. United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) (2012) Overview of refuge purposes. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/arctic/purposes.html. Accessed 26 April 2019
  46. United States Geological Survey (1998) Fact sheet 0028–01: online report - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 1002 area, Petroleum Assessment, Including Economic Analysis. https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-0028-01/fs-0028-01.htm. Accessed 24 Jan 2019
  47. United States Government Accountability Office (2003) Alaska native villages: most are affected by flooding and erosion. December. GAO-04-142. https://www.gao.gov/assets/250/240810.pdf. Accessed 5 May 2019
  48. US Government (1995) House Document 104–141. Veto of H.R. 2491. December 5, 1995. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CDOC-104hdoc141/pdf/CDOC-104hdoc141.pdf. Accessed 26 Apr 2019
  49. van Tuyn P (2014) Peak oil and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In: Gates JE, Trauger DL, Czech B (eds) Peak oil, economic growth, and wildlife conservation. Springer, New York, pp 171–190Google Scholar
  50. Walsh NE, Griffith B, McCabe TR (1995) Evaluating growth of the porcupine caribou herd using a stochastic model. J Wildl Manag 59(2):262–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Weatherhead E, Gearheard S, Barry R (2010) Changes in weather persistence: insight from Inuit knowledge. Glob Environ Chang 20(3)Google Scholar
  52. Wesche SD, Chan HM (2010) Adapting to the impacts of climate change on food security among Inuit in the Western Canadian Arctic. EcoHealth 7(3):361–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wilson NJ, Mutter E, Inkster J, Satterfield T (2018) Community-based monitoring as the practice of Indigenous governance: a case study of Indigenous-led water quality monitoring in the Yukon River Basin. J Environ Manag 210:290–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wright S (2014) Our ice is vanishing / Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq: a history of Inuit, newcomers, and climate change. McGill-Queen’s Native and Northern Series 75Google Scholar
  55. Youdelis M (2016) “They could take you out for coffee and call it consultation!”: the colonial antipolitics of indigenous consultation in Jasper National Park. Environ Plan A 48(7):1374–1392Google Scholar
  56. Yukon Government (2018) Yukon Forum. https://yukon.ca/en/your-government/find-out-what-government-doing/yukon-forum. Accessed 13 Jan 2019Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Resource Economics and Environmental SociologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations