Indigenous Communities Are on the Front Lines of Climate Change | Hot Mess 🌎

Think about the place you grew up as a kid. You probably knew the best shortcut to your
friend’s house, which tree limbs you could shake to free the juiciest fruit, or how the
sky looked just before the streetlights would beckon you home. Your neighborhood was your kingdom — and
you knew how to navigate it to get the best out of it. Now imagine a different way of knowing your
neighborhood, one that draws not just on years in a single place, but on generations of knowledge
over thousands of years. One where your neighborhood isn’t a thing
to be conquered, but a relationship to be nurtured. That’s the kind of knowledge that exists
in indigenous communities, and their way of knowing might help us all adapt to climate
change. [intro] Before we get too far, let’s get on the
same page. First, there’s no official definition of
“indigenous.” But we are using the term to describe communities
that self-identify as indigenous, including those who follow traditional customs and practices
that trace back to pre-colonized societies. They often have a relationship with their
environment that transcends what they see or feel, and is governed by a system of beliefs,
values and principles that set out how they will interact with the world around them. One indigenous community, the Inuit of Western
Canada, use knowledge passed down through generations to observe the stars, the shapes
of clouds, and the behavior of animals, to forecast the weather. But today, they can’t rely on those forecasts,
because the weather varies more than ever before. Signs that used to foretell a storm was coming
tomorrow, could now mean there’s a storm coming in the next hour. Indigenous communities have witnessed environmental
changes like these for a long time, but their observations have often been
dismissed or ignored by Western science. These days some scientists are recognizing
that the knowledge held by indigenous communities can show us things about our changing world
and climate that the scientists can’t always detect. When scientist Shari Gearheard traveled across
sea ice on Greenland’s northwestern shore, she was shocked when her sled dogs’ legs
punched through the ice, which was unseasonably thin. Knowing that sea ice is two inches thick feels
more real when it’s beneath your feet. But to Inuit travelers on the team, this was
the new normal for traveling in the Arctic. Indigenous communities are on the front lines
of climate change and its impacts, due to their reliance on wild fish, game and crops,
and their first-hand interaction with changes to sensitive environments, like declining
sea ice. In these communities, adapting to change could
mean the difference between existing and not existing. Fortunately, the local knowledge they’ve
developed to navigate the world can also put them in a position to adapt quickly, because
their knowledge — like any form of science — is dynamic. Communities that have found their weather
forecasting techniques more unreliable are adapting and tweaking their methods to better
predict the changes as they experience them. Their systems are evolving just as fast as
the climate around them. For years, though, the scientific world viewed
its observations and way of solving problems as superior to those from indigenous communities. For example, when Inuit hunters said they
saw thunderstorms near Sachs Harbor, Canada, researchers dismissed them and told them it
was too cold to see that kind of weather so far north. But the hunters were right. That type of scientific arrogance still exists,
but it is starting to fade. Today, indigenous observations are beginning
to be incorporated in disciplines such as forestry, conservation, disaster preparedness
and climate science. Scientists are working alongside indigenous
communities to develop research models, document observations, and, importantly, find answers
to questions that are useful to both scientists and local communities. Through these partnerships, scientists are
learning that daily temperatures in the Arctic fluctuate much more than scientific models
indicated. And subsistence hunters are helping collect
samples from musk oxen they rely on, which have shown that warmer winters are hurting
the health of the herds. Scientists also recognize that the very words
within indigenous languages can contain observations about their environment, like how an area
called “where the caribou mate” shows that at one point, a bunch of caribou used to live
there, even if it’s no longer true. All this is a start, but it’s not enough. Even as some scientists and indigenous communities
are working together more closely, many countries still deny indigenous people a meaningful
voice on issues that impact them. Indigenous communities are fighting to be
recognized as unique groups with particular ways of existing — even if they shouldn’t
have to prove that to the people who drew borders around them. But, the thing is, no one has all the answers,
and we will need many kinds of knowledge to tackle the challenges of climate change. Sometimes that knowledge comes from people
who have been here all along, and from whom we could learn a lot, if we are willing to
listen. Indigenous communities have survived for thousands
of years by using their ways of knowing, and adapting. Maybe — just maybe — they’re onto something.

  1. Science is growing more open minded. I am tempted to believe that one day we'll use it sensibly almost all the time. Unfortunately, also a bunch of psychopaths are using increasingly powerful tools to create increasingly serious problmes. Keep up with the good work, and we'll succeed !!! 🙂 Thanks for this video.

  2. "…because their knowledge, like any form of science, is dynamic."
    I often hear people talk about indigenous cultures' knowledge and techniques described as being primal—being "in harmony with nature," or some such bullcrap. It's nice to see some other people who recognize it for what it is—the science of a region which just didn't benefit from Europe's geographical and historical advantages.

  3. Everyone who sees this comment should send the link to this channel to all of your constituents. You only have to text 50409 and follow the directions.

    Ps: it’s free.

  4. Those people could see the effects every second, hour day year etc. One scientist could detect only a general view. The detalies of each zone are lost.

  5. They observe their environments for generations, start to see patterns, look whether those patterns actually exist and how they can predict the future with them. Our scientist may have more precise tools, but this form of correlation detection is effectively the same. So why should we dismiss their knowledge?

  6. I'm sure "indigenous" communities know the lay of the land better than those that have never stepped foot there, but their realm mixes the ideas of science and pseudo-science. Scepticism is the middle name of the scientific community.

  7. Humans have created this problem we should use our intelligence to help every living creature on this planet better evolve through it.

  8. My grandmother could tell the time of the day very accurately just by looking at the shadows made by sun also she sometimes was able to predict rain by looking at sky

  9. An important topic! In college I spent a semester studying earths systems science in New Zealand, and I learned so much from hearing Maori citizens share their knowledge on scientific subjects as diverse as volcanism and eel conservation.

    Not sure what to do with the assumption that the viewers of this show all grew up in wealthy suburban neighborhoods surrounded by apple trees though. 😛

  10. Indigenous groups aren't magic. Where is their data.

    When you mention examples of groups being able to predict better than western science, I wish you'd explain what the difference was. Part of the problem might be the data and bounds of precision for their instruments are questionable or nonexistent. I don't know that I'm going to just accept indigenous peoples information over NOAA models just because they have older generations and they have a "special relationship" with the environment. That's not science.

  11. The video is a bit behind the audio am i right and why does my brain focus on that smaaaaall gap and give it so much attention wth

  12. "Indigenous communities have survived for thousands of years…" Indigenous and non-indigenous people have been adapting for thousands of years. Just because generations of people have inhabited the same land for a long time, doesn't give them some mystical insight. That's not scientific arrogance. Sure, it's better that the scientists work along indigenous communities and implore their knowledge of the area, but it sounds like their knowledge should have special privilege over rigorous science.

  13. there is no western science! there is only science and it does not belong any particular society or group, it belongs to everyone. enough with the colonialist/anti-colonialist, western/non-western narratives

  14. The facts should be recorded and tested along with every other hypothesis to see how well it works. Many indigenous people were forbidden, in the past, to pass on traditions, so might not know any more, or might have garbled information. Testing the knowledge for accuracy is what science would do.

  15. > "Now imagine a different way of knowing your neighbourhood, one that draws not just on years in a single place, but on generations of knowledge over thousands of years."
    Okay. That's literally the internet.

    > "That's the kind of knowledge that exists in indigenous communities"
    What? No it's not… Indigenous communities live in an echo chamber where they only hear local ideas. And not only that, but the amount of people they draw their knowledge from is insignificant compared to how many people we draw knowledge from, from the internet.

  16. thank you for the great episode, thanks to sponsors and patreons 💐
    I'm thinking to combine indigenous people and modern weather forecast. I live in an island and I noticed how accurate old fishermen weather forecasts, some of them complaining about how "our methods are not working anymore" they knew for sure the weather is changing

  17. i think indigenous communitys are wildly overrated. their knowlege is often only enough to survive barly. lets stay realistic and stop talk about spritual relationships to the environment.

  18. This does make sense, maybe the communities, that have been there since the last ice age, can tell us more about our current climate change than today's scientists

  19. Maybe the Native Americans can teach Americans something about environmental conservation and preservation, a lack of which is itself CAUSING climate change.

  20. I really hope that they record and actually transmit observable data and evidence. Science isn't really science if we're going off the hunches of the myths and spiritualism of barbarian tribes.

  21. that reason there. They have been doing it for so long that they must be doing something right. That's the reason I practice human sacrifice every eclipse – hasn't failed to bring the sun back yet.

  22. I love this channel, I agree that indigenous communities hold a great wealth knowledge of the lands that they inhabit, and that there are certainly things that we can learn from them, but a couple lot of things in this video really rubbed me the wrong way… And I don't think that it really taught me anything about climate change.

    You start with saying that "their way of knowing might help us all adapt to climate change"… What does that even mean?
    You talk about "Western science"… Science is science. It isn't owned by any group.
    "Their knowledge, like any form of science is dynamic" Is it really scientific to predict the weather based on the stars?

    I guess the overall tone of the video felt sort of "anti-science" and that somehow indigenous groups somehow have a better understanding of climate science than climate scientists

  23. yes, we should examine what they've learnt, no we shouldn't use their belief systems or inaccurate measurement systems, stick to the scientific method.

  24. example: People working in cathering were called more exposed to illnesses. But the statistic gathered came from doctors who made a prescriptions on demand to get one day free. Result? = wrong assumption and wrong basis for next research.

  25. “Science” as a term has been coopted by Western colonizers to mean ways of knowing in line with European philosophy and worldviews, to the exclusion and derision of all other methods of thought. We’ve been taught that western scientific tradition is more “evolved” when in reality it simply evolved differently than other modes of thinking. Indigenous populations have had and still have great contributions to make to the human scientific saga.

  26. A few of my lecturers at university have talked about/around this before, especially the zoology lecturers who can reference multiple studies where if not for the indigenous communities they wouldn't have discovered a new species, been able to track down a particular animal or safely navigate a certain environment. Although indigenous communities may not have the most scientific way of explaining things they certainly often have a very intimate understanding of their environment and make many insightful observations. It's sad that a certain group of people's way of life is viewed as 'primative'.

  27. The Australia Aboriginal if the moon looks like it will catch the rain u wont get any if it upside down good hunting and they use animal like lizards and and plants it like 70% right that not bad

  28. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this video! As an indigenous person myself, it's so rare to see our experiences addressed, let alone embraced.

  29. Yes, the climate is changing and it is human caused. And yes it is a big problem.

    But this video is questionable.

    1:10 IN-DIG-E-NOUS means
    – Self-Identify as indigenous. That's me.
    – Follow Traditional customs (pre-colonized). That's me, I do math, play cards, watch the night sky, read books and all sorts of things my ancestors did before they colonized.
    – Have a relationship with their environment. That's me, that's everyone.
    – Governed by a systems of beliefs. That's me, it's called naturalism, it is the foundation of science.
    so am I indigenous?

    The Inuit of Western Canada passed down through the generations knowledge about the stars, the shapes of clouds and the behavior of animals to forecast the weather. Sure they did like every other human culture has done. So what?

    So now they can't rely on those forecasts? I guess that makes them *unreliable.

    Weather varies now the ever before (ever?). The weather is changing and we know why through *reliable scientific methods.

    Indigenous peoples (*reliable) observations have been ignored.They shouldn't be, all (*reliable) observations should be included.

    "Knowledge held by Indigenous communities can show us …" If they can do so reliably then it's good knowledge to have. Good knowledge can be had from any Indigenous or not. Indigenous are not special in that way.

    "… that scientist can always detect." Maybe but the reverse is true, scientist can show us many many things Indigenous communities can't detect. Why isn't that mentioned?

    Any community in wild lands is going to be sensitive to climate change, indigenous or not. Indigenous are not special in that way.

    2:50 "… their knowledge like any form of science …" Let's not conflate the two. Their knowledge isn't always science and science is often different than their knowledge. Again like any other traditional social group. And yea, adapting and tweaking knowledge can make it better but that's opposite of tradition. Indigenous are not special in that way.

    3:10 Scientist viewed their observations and ways of thinking as superior to indigenous ways of thinking. A couple of problems with that, first science and indigenous ways of thinking are not completely mutually exclusive. Second, as far understanding the climate and nature, where science and indigenous methods diverge, the science is usually better. But that's true of any superstitions or spirit based ways of thinking and science. Indigenous are not special in that way.

    This video seems like a dog whistle to those who think one community is better than another people simply because of who they are, and that's just wrong. This video isn't special in that way. But it's heart is in the right place, getting the word out about climate change.

  30. I'm glad the indigenous peoples of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East have shared their indigenous knowledge of the the environment with the rest of the world, so that indigenous peoples in the rest of the world can understand why the climate is changing, and live in homes that last for decades even in the hardest climates, made of materials harvested thousands of miles away, watching videos about themselves on things like YouTube. I also enjoy the knowledge that all the indigenous peoples of the world share back in return. Together, we can all help each other, just like we always have since the beginning of mankind. When indigenous groups of people get together and share each other's knowledge, the world gets better and better, and the fact that we're here on YouTube watching this video attests to that.

  31. You


  32. This channel is very disappointing. You create one video on the topic nuclear power and then refused to create any subsequent videos addressing advanced nuclear technologies.

  33. Machine learning + A lot of data gathered about electricity => GHG emission conclusions! I'd love to see a video about this!

  34. Well…Hot Mess is a climate change channel, but this particular video seemed to me to edge uncomfortably close to fatuous. Or perhaps that is too harsh a word, so maybe just silly.

  35. I have a question – I've heard about huge fires which are burning from years, as the product of combustion is CO2 which is major green house gas and those fires are releasing CO2 from years why aren't we extinguishing them .

  36. sigh Kudos for trying to validate and empower historically marginalized communities. Nevertheless, you failed. Most, not all, of your statements about indigenous communities were a contemporary expression of the noble savage myth. All of your noble savage statements would have been better expressed as statements about the validity of oral history. We now know that oral traditions have the same accuracy as written traditions. This is a scientifically proven fact. If you had used science to validate the knowledge of the communities, you would not have had to use subtle forms of the appeal to authority fallacy.

    Also, you overplayed your hand with twice using the absurd "thousands of years" lie to support the knowledge of the communities. Since the agricultural revolution, no culture has existed for thousands of years. But, if you want to assume that a culture has existed for thousands of years, a culture that has only existed for three hundred years almost certainly has the quantity of useful information as your mythical Methuselah cultures. The "Little Ice Age" was a reset button for every culture's knowledge of the environment, whether they had a writing system or not. And there have been dozens of regional changes in climate that take centuries to complete. No culture or knowledge-keeping body tracked climate changes that spanned centuries. Therefore, every significant climate shift (from the desertification fo the Sahara to the Medieval Warm Period) reset the local knowledge of climate. If any culture survives in harsh conditions for 200 years, that is a triumph. It's unnecessary and silly to claim that any culture has existed for thousands of years.

    The lunatics and psychopaths who deny climate change are good at exploiting spurious arguments associated with climate change. I'm disappointed that this collaborative channel missed an opportunity to explain how climate studies should be interdisciplinary and that most scientists never went to university. I'm especially disappointed that you risked giving ammo to those people who excessively discount future costs and are driving us towards an apocalypse.

  37. It's fine to be skeptical of indigenous beliefs, especially if people in the community have no scientific education, but when they say there was a thunderstorm over there…believe them because that's just not the sort of thing you lie about nor get confused as to whether or not it was real. But yes, people who have lived in a place for generations, even if they don't have a scientific understanding of their environment, know it better than anyone else and are excellent sources of information. Give them even a rudimentary education on what civilization has figured out about biology and the climate, and ensure they understand the scientific process of Hypothesis-Experiment-Record-Adjust Hypothesis-Repeat, and boom, instant expert, no years of training required.

  38. Science is the addition of previously verified fact + new observations that can also be tested. Whether it is "indigenous" or some "Ivy League" scientist is irrelevant. That is Science's greatest achievement.

  39. "There's no official definition of indigenius"
    Political correctness for a word that has a well known meaning and usage regarding peoples. OK.

  40. There seem to be a lot of people in these comments confidently claiming that knowledge from your ancestors somehow transfers down to you. Can somebody explain to me how that isn't nonsense?

  41. How much liberal boilerplate talking points (imaginary axes to grind) can you pack in to one video? this is good that way.

  42. I am glad there are still indigenous communities that have real knowledge still exist. Most of here where I live are incredibly dumb… They got lost in ignorance thanks to the conquerers. They do not even show common sense unfortunately…

  43. Thank you for this informative video – the IPCC recently recognised indigenous peoples and local communities as a scalable climate solution. you might be interested in some of the films on our channel from our indigenous partners:

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