Contact

KU News Service
785-864-8860

Book examines how climate change affects indigenous people

Tue, 04/09/2013

LAWRENCE — Climate change’s effects are starting to be felt around the world, and indigenous populations are in many cases among the first to have their ways of life disrupted. Yet these populations are often powerless, both politically and economically, to convince those with the ability to do something about it to do so. A University of Kansas law professor has co-edited a book examining how climate change has affected indigenous people worldwide and how they can legally address the issues in the future.

Elizabeth Kronk, associate professor of law and director of the Tribal Law & Government Center at KU, has co-edited “Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples: The Search for Legal Remedies” with Randall S. Abate, associate professor of law at Florida A&M University. The editors gathered work from a collection of legal and environmental experts from around the world, many of whom hail from indigenous populations. Their entries examine how climate change has affected indigenous peoples on numerous continents and how future legal action may help their cause.

“As far as I know it’s the only book of its kind,” Kronk said. “There are lots on climate change, but none that I know of that examine the effects of it on indigenous people. A lot of times when you hear about climate change people say ‘when or if this happens.’ Well, it’s already happening, and indigenous people especially are being forced to deal with it.”

The book examines climate change through an indigenous perspective in North and South America, the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand, Asia and Africa. The contributors, all either practicing lawyers or law professors, both explain the problems faced by indigenous populations and break down attempts to devise legal, workable solutions.

For example, Inuit citizens living near the Arctic in the United States, Canada, Russia and Greenland are in a region of the world that is warming four times faster than other regions. Yet, litigation brought by residents of the Native Village of Kivalina against companies that contribute large amounts of greenhouse gasses to the environment has been unsuccessful.

As a problem of global scale, climate change is incredibly complex and difficult to deal with via law and policy. There are local, municipal, national and international laws that often conflict.

“The indigenous people of the Arctic are literally losing their homeland,” Kronk said. “But climate change law is complicated, when you add all those levels of law, it’s even more so.”

The book’s 20-plus contributors outline ways indigenous populations can navigate the complex web of climate change law, and review both national-level successes and international-level shortcomings. They examine both options of mitigation law — which intends to halt and reverse climate change affects — and adaptation law, which acknowledges climate change and ways to legally adapt to it.

“Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples” could prove beneficial to legal scholars, environmental lawyers and anyone with an interest in indigenous populations among others.

“Whether as a novice's starting point or expert's desktop reference, I cannot think of a more useful resource for anyone interested in climate policy for indigenous peoples,” said J.B. Ruhl of Vanderbilt University Law School.

Knowing that one legal strategy will not fit all, the books authors spend a good deal of time exploring how specific indigenous populations can deal with climate change realities unique to their part of the world, within the frame of the law. The text also examines how indigenous peoples, often on the front lines of the climate change battle, can inform the rest of the world in dealing with the many associated social and legal issues.



Happy Kansas Day, Kansans! We caught sunflowers standing tall at the Grinter Family Farms just outside Lawrence last fall. You may wonder how the sunflower came to be the State flower in 1903 and we found an excerpt from Kansas legislation: Whereas, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay; and Whereas, This flower has to all Kansans a historic symbolism which speaks of frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies, and is full of the life and glory of the past, the pride of the present, and richly emblematic of the majesty of a golden future, and is a flower which has given Kansas the world-wide name, "the sunflower state"... Be it enacted ... that the helianthus or wild native sunflower is ... designated ... the state flower and floral emblem of the state of Kansas.

RT @caboni : Great to host the @Surgeon _General for another stop on his national listening tour at @KUMedCenter http://t.co/jYi0SbaVZt
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times