Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reports: Climate change could have drastic effects on Navajo

As the Obama Administration released its new report on climate change Tuesday, the Navajo Nation was grappling with the ramifications of the publication of a similar report from scholars at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The report, titled "Considerations for Climate Change and Variability Adaptation on the Navajo Nation," outlines the major challenges facing the Navajo Nation as a result of climate change and what the tribe can do about it. The Navajo Nation is in a particularly vulnerable position when considering land and water resources because much of the high desert plateau that comprises reservation land is arid and vulnerable to desertification, according to the report's authors. As one might have predicted, prolonged drought, heat waves, and the risk of fire are the major threats of climate change to the Navajo Nation. This was reinforced by the Obama Administration's report on how climate change is affecting the United States. According to this second report, in the Southwest, where the Navajo Nation is located, drought and fire were the major issues facing the region. Julie Nania, adjunct faculty at UC-Boulder law school and one of the lead authors of the report, said that climate variability is important to understand. "Variability" means that the extremes in weather are greater, from higher temperatures in the summer to colder temperatures in the winter. Variability affects howr water runs across the land, how fast it evaporates, what kinds of plants and wildlife can grow in these conditions and, ultimately, how Navajo people can continue to maintain a living in this changed environment...more

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