Thoughts on Systems Change

Writing can be so much like exercising.  I used to keep my mind sharp through intervals of reading, writing, then reading and writing again.  When you’re fit to write, it can be uplifting.  When you haven’t been writing for the fun of it, it becomes quickly laborious.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a book.  In starting a manuscript, I find myself incredibly intimidated by the process.  But I’m also looking towards a thesis in my Masters program and the possibility of a PhD in the future.  It’s making me consider the ways I hope to use writing and art to communicate, and how that might intersect with my research into environmental issues, indigenous rights, politics, and the general intersectionality that sits right in front of us but which not everyone prioritizes to analyze, thereby perpetuating the very frameworks and systems we are allegedly fighting to dismantle.

I’m investigating the theory of shock doctrines, power, and how liberal movements unintentionally buy into the very chaos they are reacting to.  It’s a challenge I’m glad to take on, although I have severe doubts the article I write will help me win a trip to the climate negotiations I’m attempting to compete for.

Sitting and thinking about history, time, space, and how none of those aforementioned concepts are tangible or possibly exist at all.  I began to wonder how this world perseveres at all.  I also wondered, had I designed the world, would I have thought to make clouds?  Fluffy, alien bodies of mist that float just the right distance away – and closer than we think – until the moment they condense and preserve life.

What if one day the clouds fell from the sky?

So much talk about biopolitics and bioengineering… conversations of Neoliberalism and Foucalt… restorative justice and learning from ancestors… Yet we speak in these terms and concepts so elevated that our language is beyond reach for those impacted the most, those with the solutions we could actually implement.  The research feels sterile, especially when you consider the numerous communities who understand the concepts of power and the impacts of co-opted systems but whose way of communicating them may be completely incompatible.

Maybe the clouds won’t fall out of the sky, but the air will thicken with smog and then that might as well be the same thing.  And, as we continue to criticize the problems right in front of our face, we will continually fall victim to the systemic chaos that cripples any effort for restorative justice.  It truly is an accurate saying: Systems Change, Not Climate Change.  And, as Naomi Klein puts it, it’s not a transition – it’s a “Corporate Coup”.

Stand With Standing Rock – Not On It

Originally published on the SustainUs Blog here: http://sustainus.org/2016/10/stand-with-standing-rock-not-on-it/

The sun was hot, and the pavement on Highway 1806 was even hotter. The guests at Sacred Stone Camp had just finished a communal lunch. They began falling into line behind the same banners that had led this march every day, a march up the highway to pray for the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction to halt. Just behind the banners, a cluster of Havasupai men and women gathered in rhythmic songs in their native tongue. The men sweated in colorful ribbon shirts, beating handheld drums. The women swayed to the beat in their tiered skirts and beaded shawls. For a half an hour, they sang like this, only briefly stopping when one of the women collapsed to the pavement in the heat. Today was their time to spiritually lead the protectors at Standing Rock. These Havasupai had come clear from the southwestern deserts for this purpose. No heat spell would deter them, and certainly no oil company was going to threaten a group of faraway strangers who had been subjected to the same governmental policies and historical trauma.
When I protested alongside Standing Rock and other allies on September 3rd, the vision was clear: peacefully protect. The camp never exacerbated hate. Even as Lakota churches (prayer rings, burials, and cairns) were being destroyed by the pipeline company, the front lines offered up their forgiveness for the workers’ ignorance. Each day centered around prayer and song, of renewing our connection. Daily ceremony is something I have become accustomed to on the Navajo Nation, where medicine men can be seen leaving their hogans to greet the sunrise with corn pollen. This kind of ceremony is a practice used to maintain balance that I find separates the indigenous from the spiritually landless who have lost their indigenous roots.
The #NoDAPL movement at Standing Rock is a powerful one because of the prayer that maintains its focus and the cultural diversity that is revered. These are important qualities that are quickly lost in predominantly non-indigenous circles. Since the beginning of contact, certain language has been used to degrade and dehumanize indigenous peoples on Turtle Island. Outdated stereotypes constitute the majority of indigenous representation in mainstream media. Expensive football tickets are sold in the country’s capital for a team named after a racial slur. Attitudes that justify calling an indigenous woman “squaw” contribute to the highest rates of rape in a single race. Indigenous people also have the highest rates of youth suicide and police violence per capita, and all of these statistics can be attributed to stereotypes and misrepresentation. Why is this important to #NoDAPL? This misrepresentation leads to media censorship and the appropriation of the movement.

Media Censorship
If we think about censorship and #NoDAPL, we might picture corporate censorship that protects the energy company from a negative light. This type of censorship has undoubtedly occurred in mainstream media, highlighting one paradox that plagues tribal nations: that an energy company can have a more sovereign representation in the media than an actual sovereign entity. While Energy Transfer receives journalistic immunity, Standing Rock is subject to slanderous quotes by the authoritative voice of a Sheriff who was not present and of white community members who view the protest as an inconvenience to their privileged lives. The LA Times published elements of Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier’s formal statement regarding the event in which he states, “Any suggestion that today’s event was a peaceful protest, is false…Individuals crossed onto private property and accosted private security officers with wooden posts and flag poles”. (Kirchmeier was not present at the site, therefore he reported information given by Energy Transfer personnel.) The New York Times quoted one resident asking, “You get 2,000, 3,000 Natives together – is it safe?”. It’s unbelievable that such a quotation was published. (You also get several thousand non-Native people gathered at sports games. Is that safe?) It reflects the mentality of the community around Standing Rock.
However, I would argue that the censorship of indigenous peoples runs much deeper than this kind of surface censorship. There is also censorship through the representation of both the movement and Standing Rock as a nation. How many articles have been published that take quotes strictly from Sherif Kirchmeier or Energy Transfer employees? The media’s decision to rarely interview the hundreds of tribal national presidents and leaders who have voyaged to Cannon Ball demonstrates either the media doesn’t believe – or doesn’t believe their readers believe – that these indigenous peoples are as important as non-indigenous representatives of a corporation or local law enforcement. Instead, it takes celebrities like Shailene Woodley and Leonardo DiCaprio to capture America’s respect for #NoDAPL. Woodley represented the cause early, joining the Standing Rock youth on their run to Washington, D.C. In July, she posted an Instagram picture from the Capitol with the text, “The youth of the Standing Rock Reservation ran 1,800 miles from North Dakota to Washington, D.C. to protect their water from the Dakota Access Pipeline that will be built on their reservations.” She then included a link to the #NoDAPL petition in her bio.
An additional concern is how mainstream representation of the Dakota Access Pipeline dispute fails to capture the spirit of the movement. This is not some battle cry for Mother Earth or even some radical environmental statement. This movement is centered around sovereignty. Just like our natural resources, if our sovereignty is compromised then so is everything else in our lives. What is on the line? Our freedom of expression, of religion, of access to culture. The media censors the #NoDAPL movement by failing to elaborate on this core issue. This absence of representation instead perpetuates the ignorance many non-indigenous communities have around the political status and alleged freedom of tribal nations, and how many hundreds of them exist in America alone.
Finally, just as language can be used to dehumanize a group of people through racially-charged vocabulary, it can also be used to make one race of people’s culture seem inferior, pushing it to the fringe of society. As Simon Moya-Smith points out, BuzzFeed’s use of quotations around the destruction of Lakota “sacred sites” insinuates a religious inferiority. Would we publish that terrorists bombed a Catholic “church”? It’s the same story, just a different race.

Appropriating #NoDAPL
While mainstream media seems vetted against properly representing Standing Rock and its efforts, thousands of non-indigenous people have gathered in Cannon Ball and at marches in cities to stand in solidarity with the tribe. Less than a week after Energy Transfer’s hired security guards attacked unarmed people and intentionally destroyed sites protected by NAGPRA to advance their motives, our SustainUS delegation held its retreat at Canticle Farms in Oakland, California. The day I arrived to Oakland, San Francisco held its solidarity march for Standing Rock. I joined the march and learned something I hadn’t realized before: Movements – and not just culture – can be appropriated, and the consequences are uncannily destructive.
It was uplifting to see so many people gathered in support of a cause hundreds of miles away; however, it was discouraging to see stereotypes, generalizations, cultural appropriation, and misrepresentation within the movement itself. Non-natives were smudging, beating drums, and seemingly trying to imitate the prayer at Standing Rock. Just like the generalizing comments I read on article links, folks would say things that imply all Natives are peace-loving and earth-worshipping. This generalization is not accurate, and it buries the environmental issues we have in our tribal communities such as dumping and limited access to recycling services under a race-based stereotype.
Furthermore, as the protesters gathered on September 8th in downtown San Francisco to draw attention to the movement, they took what the movement stood for and appropriated it. Instead of calling for the defense of Lakota sovereignty, protesters were suddenly blocking entire intersections, screaming up at the CitiBank building, and accusing the San Francisco Police Department of defending the bank’s entrance. This caused a huge divide in protesters as Native citizens cried: “This is a peaceful demonstration of solidarity. This does not embody the sentiments at Sacred Stone Camp. Stop making this about you!”

It is so crucial to remember the #NoDAPL fight is to protect tribal sovereignty, not to protest anything else. It’s this sovereignty that is undermined by Native mascots, media censorship, and non-tribal entities’ use of eminent domain on treaty lands. For a country that has supposedly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the last year, the United State’s complacency towards Energy Transfer’s blatant disrespect for tribal sovereignty should be more alarming than ever. Chariman David Arcahmbault II has recently taken this issue to the United Nations to receive international support. Now it’s our delegation’s turn to make sure #NoDAPL is properly represented in person, spirit, and media as we bring this issue of tribal sovereignty and corporate power to COP22.

BREAKING NEWS: Riot Police Arrest Shailene Woodley, Protectors at Standing Rock on Indigenous Peoples Day

REPOSTED FROM THE GOOD MEN PROJECT: https://goodmenproject.com/social-justice-2/breaking-news-riot-police-arrest-shailene-woodley-protectors-standing-rock-indigenous-peoples-day-dg/

While America and its media outlets were focused on the Debate last night, the US Court of Appeals denied Standing Rock its injunction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

On September 2, 2016, the tribe had filed numerous sacred sites, graves, and other important cultural areas that are protected by federal law and which were along the proposed pipeline route in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.  Receiving cultural compliance after archaeological and ethnographical surveys is standard procedure for any and all construction projects in the United States. However, Energy Transfer claimed to have completed these surveys of Lakota land without actually consulting Lakota experts on what their sacred sites look like or where they are located. When the tribe was finally able to survey the area, experts immediately identified dozens of locations and filed for an injunction.

On September 3, 2016, a Saturday morning on Labor Day weekend, Energy Transfer skipped over 13 miles of planned construction in order to destroy the identified sites before the courts could review the case.  This led to the first confrontation between unarmed Protectors and hired personnel. The energy company claimed Standing Rock tribal members and their allies were trespassing on treaty land; Protectors argued their inherent rights to protecting such sites, especially when the company was not allowed to proceed with a pending injunction. The injunction was temporarily granted.

Protectors kept filing into the Sacred Stone Campground, ready each day for the destruction to continue. A number of non-violence trainings were held to help Protectors keep the spirit of the movement intact. Then, last night on October 9, 2016, the US Court of Appeals denied Standing Rock the injunction — on a Sunday night while the world was watching the Presidential Debate.

Shailene Woodley, who has been active since the Standing Rock youth ran over 2,000 miles to hand-deliver a petition to DC, arrived yet again to the front lines in Cannon Ball.

Protectors were ready at the front lines as militarized riot police arrived on the scene. Woodley kept her phone recording for about two hours this morning to make a video documenting the encounter. In the video, you can hear discussions about an accident on Highway 1806 that the police were blaming the #NoDAPL people for causing. The Protectors peacefully prayed, danced, and chanted until they were asked to disperse.

When Woodley returned to her RV on Highway 1806, she found it completely surrounded by police officers. You can hear her try to reason with them, stating that she left as asked. They accuse her of trespassing and she asks why she is being targeted? Is it because she had, at that moment, over 40K live views on her video? She handed the camera to her mother as the police proceeded to arrest her.

Woodley is not the only person who has been arrested in this lengthy defense of treaty land and tribal rights. She will also be far from the last. Please share this atrocity on social media using the hashtag #NoDAPL. This battle is far from over, and we need the world’s support.

Other ways to support include calling entities like the Army Corps of Engineers and announcing your position on the #NoDAPL case. As winter approaches in North Dakota, the Sacred Stone Camp is in need of supplies – so also consider donating.

We need to get this trending immediately, especially on #IndigenousPeoplesDay. Especially when neither Trump nor Clinton has made one mention of indigenous peoples in their debates. Share the news. Use the hashtag. Help us end this silence now.

 

DAPL intensifies.

How biased is the media you have access to?  Have you heard much about the DAPL?

I don’t have television, so I have no idea what is playing on the news.  I do know, however, that Google News has only articles from more obscure sources about DAPL and none of them are coming up as headlines.  Compare that to my social media feed, filled with articles and posts shared by my largely Native friend base, and you can see how little important Native news makes it into mainstream media.

People are being arrested.
The popular video being shared today is from AJ+ and shows peaceful protestors being arrested.  In one clip, a man who is walking away in a field is grabbed from behind and slammed to the ground as an officer handcuffs him.

DAPL is suing.
The energy company is claiming endangerment of its workers and a risk to its permits for delay in constructing its water crossings.  Ironically, the protestors are claiming endangerment of their lives should the construction continue, adding to the sentiment the pipeline is causing amongst the Standing Rock people: “Is an entire people expendable?”  The methods used to seek approval for construction of the pipeline are called into question.

More and more people are showing up.
I have a number of friends packing up their cars from Indiana to Idaho, ready to drive to North Dakota and risk arrest for the cause.  Shailene Woodley, Divergent actress, is already on-site defending alongside the Sioux.  Read her Twitter feed here.

30 youth just ran 2,000 miles.
They delivered a petition with 160,000 signatures to stop the pipeline to Washington.  They began on foot from North Dakota.

Protestors are asking for support.
DAPL supplies

The Cheyenne River Sioux stands in solidarity with Standing Rock.
This letter was written to Washington on behalf of the cause:

Furthermore, transportation was provided for protestors:
DAPL Cheyenne transport

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe are also backing up the Standing Sioux.DAPL Flandreau

Salish Sea Bio Region members are raising funds to support the Native groups.
They plan to travel from Washington to North Dakota to stand in support of defending land and water rights.  Their fundraiser is located here.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as more people are planning to make the trip to North Dakota.  I just hope my friends stay safe; the Dakotas are not exactly known for polite police officers when it comes to Native peoples.

“I am the river and the river is me”: How New Zealand is defending Maori worldviews.

Perhaps one of the greatest struggles in indigenous communities today is the laws that oversee their affairs but do not incorporate their own intrinsic values.  Western society has become so accustomed to a worldview developed through sets of values such as Christianity that it becomes difficult to separate these perspectives from our every day lives.  But not all peoples hold the same values, including the Maori in New Zealand.

Recently, New Zealand attorney general Chris Finlayson worked on agreements between the New Zealand government and various Maori groups to enable a swath of land or entire body of water to be granted personhood in the eyes of New Zealand law.

“In [the Maori] worldview,” stated Finlayson,”‘I am the river and the river is me’.  Their geographic region is part and parcel of who they are.”

This idea seems foreign to those who view “personhood” as something that belongs only to a human being.  But in a worldview that sees spirituality and what constitutes as living in a different light than what many Westerners see, this definition applies to traditional lands is completely logical.

NZ1.png

The former national park, Te Urewera, existed from 1954 to 2015 and consisted of 821 square miles of North Island.  Recently, the Te Urewera Act took effect so that the government abandoned its formal ownership and the land became its own legal entity, including having “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person” per the statute that was passed.  In other words, the park was granted personhood; a river system is expected to receive the same designation soon, once it passes Parliament.

This classifications seem like “unusual designations” for those accustomed to non-Maori worldview, yet the legal status is similar to that of corporations who are also not an individual human being.  The decision to grant personhood was a “profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world,” according to Pita Sharples, the minister of Maori affairs when the law passed.  The settlement resolved the ongoing argument between New Zealand government and Maori groups over the guardianship of natural features within the country.

One great advantage to passing this law for the sake of conservation is the power it gives to the land itself.  Lawsuits to protect the land can be brought on behalf of the land itself without any need to demonstrate how a human being is impacted while defending the land’s protection.

The river set to receive similar status is the Whanganui River, the third longest river in New Zealand.  To the Maori, it is “an invisible and living whole, comprising the river and all tributaries from the mountains to the sea – and that’s what we are giving effect to through this settlement,” according to Mr. Finalyson.

These new designations do not mean people cannot still enjoy Te Urewera like when it was a national park; it simply means special permits for activities like hunting must be issued through a new board that represents the river.  This board will consist of both government and Maori representatives.

The hope now is that this landmark decision will set precedent for other indigenous communities around the world whose worldviews and cultural paradigms are not being incorporated into the laws that govern their traditional and sacred sites.  Finlayon has already began discussions with Canada’s new attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, on how these concepts can be written into Canadian law.

Will Canada be next?

it’s time Navajo Nation uses its powerful voice for indigenous solidarity, not oil prosperity.

In fact, it’s well past time.

Although I hold tribal membership in a different community, I was drawn last summer to work for the Navajo Nation government by its impressive example of tribal sovereignty in action.  Not many tribal communities can brag they have their own Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, etc.  Not every indigenous person can point out the window to a traditional plant or a sacred landmark.  (My own tribe suffered both relocation and the Dawes Allotment Act.)  Because of Navajo leadership’s ability to negotiate at Bosque Redondo, these are things the Navajo people have never lost and that they must never forget.  The Navajo Nation has a powerful voice, so long as it chooses to speak.

I have heard Navajo leadership use this voice.  It is loud, and it can be condemning.  Think: Gold King Mine spill.  Or: Delegate Crotty’s passionate denouncement against Donald “Drumpf”.  However, when it comes to the environmental threats caused by extractive industries on tribal lands, whether on Navajo Nation or elsewhere, I hear relative silence.

And correct me if I’m wrong.  I would love to be wrong on this.

It’s a sad reality that the modern Navajo government structure was essentially developed by the Federal Government around 1922 to pass off the rights to sign oil leases.  Even the modern Federal Government is, shall we say, uncomfortably close to the lucrative extractive industries that have an incredible knack for getting away with compliance lapses and environmental devastation.

When, on November 6, 2015, President Obama rejected Phase 4 of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Lakota and their many allies celebrated this decision.  It would save the Black Hills, a sacred site, from destruction.  It would save the Ogallala Aquifer, the world’s largest source of underground freshwater, from contamination.  It seemed like the message finally got across…except now the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is threatening the Plains yet again.

Not only will this proposed DAPL, constructed by a private energy company, also cross the vital Ogallala Aquifer, it will also cross the Missouri and Cannon Ball Rivers half of a mile away from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.  In an immediate response, a campaign called #RezpectOurWater was launched, arguing that a leak in this line could destroy local water sources and make both people and animals sick.  The youth in the campaign ask, “If it was your family at risk, would you be okay with it?”  One girl states, “I guess they don’t think we’re that important.”

Do you remember how the Gold King Mine spill felt?  How it still feels?

I have grown up being told by the elders around me: “The 3rd World War won’t be over land, or trade, or even religion.  It will be over water.”  As the Lakota say, “Mni wiconi.”  Water is sacred.

I spent 2 years working for “big oil” as an Engineer.  How I got there was a kind of sick irony.  My undergraduate degree specialized in Environmental Engineering, yet, by the time I graduated, the “alternative energy” sector had transformed into the fracking industry.  In that short timeframe, I experienced enough emergency response spills to know how I feel about this industry.

I would spend 12-hour shifts, day after day, holding air monitoring devices near the heads of migrant workers as they attempted to salvage spilled oil from contaminated streams in nature reserves.  I carried empty water bottles to collect dead salamanders I spotted for the biology counts.  (I used to catch these little guys in the woods at home.  By 2014, I had seen more dead than living salamanders in my life.)  I have also endured the misogyny of laborers while performing oversight on well pads.  I suspect these man camps in Indian Country are responsible for the increase of rape and other violence against indigenous women.

Sure, an engineering job in the oil industry could make you rich.  But what good is money  when we’ve destroyed our collective home?  The most finite of resources?  Yet it’s not just the oil spills that are a concern.  It’s also the idea of burning fossil fuels.  The incredible impact humans have made to the health of our planet in just my short lifetime.

The theory of climate change is not a joke.  There is a pure science behind it, just like the theory of gravity.  We all feel the theory of gravity; it makes it easy to believe.  But not all of us feel the theory of climate change to the same degree.

The whole concept is rooted in emissions.  In fact, hozho is at the heart of this idea.  Most people can probably understand the need for trees.  Trees are the figurative lungs of our planet as they take all of the carbons dioxide we exhale and transform it into the oxygen we inhale.  We need each other.  It’s a beautiful balance.  But, as we change the oxygen-breathing-organism-to-plant ratio, that’s similar to sitting in your garage with your car running.  Likewise, as we change the chemical composition of the atmosphere through increased carbon emissions, we change how energy such as light and heat lingers in our air.  We see these effects in everything, from the intensity of storms, to the melting of glaciers, to even the inability of calcium carbonate to precipitate into the ocean for coral and fish to build their skeletons.

Everything is interconnected.

I’m going back to graduate school this fall to study energy technology because I believe in the urgency of reducing these emissions.  In fact, I was recently selected as a U.S. Delegate to travel with SustainUs for COP22 this November.  We will be participating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference to lobby for a change in global policy.  While I might feel only somewhat impacted by climate change from my home in Window Rock, I realize I have the privilege to influence change for those hit the hardest.  There are people in “critical” countries and tribal communities that will literally lose their communities in the next few decades if we don’t come together as a Five Fingered family and make a change.

Last year’s COP21 delegation launched the campaign #ZeroBy2050, demanding leaders to adopt policy that would phase out emission-spouting industries with alternative solutions.  The year 2050 was selected because, if the average temperature of the planet rises any more than 2C (which it is projected to reach by that year), vulnerable countries will be deluged by a rising sea.  Entire islands, homes, cultures.

At UNITY this February, I sat on stage for a panel discussion and watched my Inupiaq friend, Teressa Baldwin, passionately describe her Arctic Circle culture.  Then she burst into tears as she explained her traditional village would be completely underwater by the time she is a grandmother.  The next morning, she left for Russia to strategize with other leaders from affected Arctic Circle communities.

We live in a global community.  We must hold every person accountable for how they impact each other and our resources.  And we absolutely must stand in solidarity with these entire communities who are at the immediate risk of losing everything on account of our silence, our turned blind eye.

How would you feel if someone was blowing secondhand smoke on your child?  Would you ask them to stop?  Or would you pretend each time not to see it, and then to not acknowledge the child’s subsequent struggle with asthma?  The child is our future generations.  The smoker is the fossil fuel industry, and that industry is a chain smoker determined to never kick the habit.

In order to reach this emissions goal, we must already be in the energy transition.  Creating green jobs, setting new emissions standards, holding Big Oil accountable.  Taking the hands of both tribal and federal leaders out of the pockets of these industries.  We know this, and yet oil, gas, and coal companies have already laid claim on deposits representing 2,795 gigatons of carbon.  To meet the 2C mark by 2050, no more than 565 gigatons can be developed between 2011 and 2049.  2,795 is five times this limit.  Think of that.  Then think of these proposed pipelines that are meant to slice and dice Indian Country, traveling thousands of miles over freshwater reserves and sacred sites.

Navajo Nation leadership, this is your chance.  If you voiced solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, if you committed to this fossil fuel phaseout, if you began sincerely investing in green jobs… Not only would the Navajo Nation become a leader in what tribal sovereignty means today, but it would also set an example for the entire world.

The Navajo Nation has such a potential to be a powerful voice and a world leader.  I just hope we all make the right decision and choose Solidarity over Oil Prosperity.

drought on the Navajo Nation & a need for more observers.

Back on March 22, 2016 – a.k.a. World Water Day – the White House held a White House Water Summit.  The Obama administration directed federal agencies to begin focusing on national long-term drought resilience policies.  This effort was primarily focused on how to solve ongoing water shortages that disproportionately affect Western states, specifically along the Colorado River Basin.

“We need to continue to develop collaborative strategies across each river basin to ensure that our nation’s water and power supplies, agricultural activities, ecosystems, and other resources all have sustainable paths forward,” said Michael L. Connor, the Interior Department’s Deputy Secretary.

But what are tribes doing about it?

Taking a look at a map, it’s clear that the Colorado River Basin includes more than just a few states.  It also includes ten tribes who make up the Colorado River Basin Tribes Partnership.  This group was founded in 1992 and involves the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, Cocopah Indian Community, Hopi, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Nation, Nation Nation, Quechan Indian Tribe, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Indian Tribe, and Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.

colorado_river_basin_lg.jpg

Of course, tribes not included are extensive.  Within Arizona alone, there are also the Ak-Chin Indian Community (Pima and Papago), Gila River (Pima and Maricopa), Havasupai Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab-Paiute Tribe, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community, San Carlos Apache Tribe, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Tohono O’oodham Nation, Tonto Apache Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nationa, and Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe.  Then of course there are the other states including even more groups, such as the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico.

What have tribes been doing to take action on climate change?

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has many sustainability goals for the Navajo Region due to the Executive Order 13653, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe was awarded the EPA Clean Air Excellence Award this July for implementing an Air Quality Program (AQP) through its Environmental Programs Division.  But the reality is that the southwest’s water crisis is taking its hardest toll on groups such as the Navajo Nation.

In August 2015, protestors in Window Rock attempted to chase Senator John McCain from tribal land for his on-going efforts to steal water rights from the Navajo and Hopi tribes.  While the Navajo Nation already struggles to manage its own resources, Arizona is attempting to take surface water rights from the tribes and pull from their underground aquifers in an attempt to meet the high demands of cities like Phoenix and Tucson to the south.  There are many problems to these proposals, not just because of their clear violations of tribal sovereignty and water rights but also because of what they would be supporting: the continued growth of two large cities that already overuse water that they don’t have.

Meanwhile, many individuals in the Navajo region have been conducting their own research on climate change.  Dr. Margaret Hiza continues to observe sand dunes, noting that the invasive Russian Thistle (tumbleweed) with its tendency to break off without a root system contributes to the erosion and movement of dry sand.  Dr. Karletta Chief and her assistants analyze data of precipitation and make recommendations through a technical review.

The findings all point to a need for more data, and of more people acting as observers for precipitation and changes on the Nation.  Yet this enters the same area of concern brought up recently by the Dine Policy Institute’s Siihasin Summit: Reflecting on Research and Data Management in the Navajo Nation.  The Navajo Nation has its own IRB, a research board that helps approve of projects and ensures any data collected is in full possession of the Navajo Nation.  This helps prevent crises like Havasuapi-Arizona State University case that stole genetic data for purposes other than it was intended.  And while this step of tribal sovereignty (data ownership) is necessary, it is also necessary for the tribes to step up and begin collecting and managing it at an efficient and effective manner that meets the demands of the problems the Nations are facing.

It will be interesting to see how the Navajo Nation continues to respond to topics of Climate Change, especially when it is so heavily reliant on extractive industries that clearly contribute to the emissions and water problems of the southwest.

obligatory COP22 fundraising post.

If you want to learn more about my work and COP22, please check out the link to our GoFundMe fundraiser:

GoFundMe – COP22

I included a summary there.  Please consider supporting us through that link.  Also, please share the fundraiser on social media or even by email to people you know.

If anyone prefers making a direct donation, such as to our delegation at SustainUs, please email me for details at kayla.devault@sustainus.org – thanks!

Navajo Philosophy – Term Paper

 

Climate Changing without Hozho

Kayla DeVault

5/5/2016

NIS371: Navajo Philosophy

Mr. Avery Denny

 

Abstract

Navajo Philosophy, through the wisdom of the Holy People and the ancient practices of generations of survivors, presents an intricate system of balance (Hozho) that is necessary for the preservation of society, economy, culture, and the environment.  Humans are merely a part of the greater world web, and the ecosystems in the world rely on the responsible participation of all beings – including humans.  Navajo Philosophy’s Hozho concept promotes a balance and good etiquette in terms of land stewardship.  However, in the modern world, an increase in global attitudes and practices that do not conform to the idealism of “Hozho” have resulted in a world devastated by a changing climate.  In this paper, the evident effects of climate change on the Caribbean reefs of San Salvador Island will be analyzed, followed by a reflection on climate change in the Navajo traditional homeland.

 

Introduction

            When I first began my classes this Spring Semester, I found myself struggling with a lot of feelings and responsibilities.  Throughout the semester, I faced more and more challenges; but I handled them with increasing strategy.  I believe my coinciding Navajo Philosophy course and Navajo Rug Weaving fine arts class literally wove themselves together as the course went on to give me perspective on my struggles and how to deal with them.  The thinking and planning that went into my weaving made me reevaluate the thinking and planning that went into my decision-making, my future possibilities, and even the way I conduct myself in conversation with other people.  My frustrations with the loom were checked by the need to stay calm and not criticize my work and myself.  All of these concepts lead to the completion of my rug this week, a rug that is not perfect but that reminds me of how much I learned and struggled and still managed to complete without giving up.

The reminder that Navajo Philosophy emphasizes a balance of the good with the evil helped me accept my undeveloped skills with the realization that I had taken on a complex design and still managed to complete it.  It helped me overcome my perfectionism and harsh self-criticism in many ways.  The weaving also gave me time to think and reflect on the teachings of my various classes.  A lot of this thinking revolved around Navajo Philosophy concepts – about what is balance and how it affects us more than just mentally.  I reflected frequently on land stewardship as part of this balance, how Navajo Philosophy is less stressed in modern society and how good land stewardship practices are essentially absent from traditional Western societies.  With this perspective, I considered how the loss of indigenous connection to a traditional land base can result in an imbalance and the ultimate destruction of an ancient ecosystem.  That is why I have chosen to analyze my past climate change research on San Salvador Island and relate it to Dine Bikeyah.

San Salvador Island

            During my senior year in undergraduate studies at Case Western Reserve University, I conducted research under the State University of New York – Brockport College abroad program.  We spent a semester in a Biology/Geology course that focused on the Caribbean ecosystem, then flew to San Salvador Island, the Bahamas, to conduct intensive field research at the Gerace Research Center, an old American Naval base.  The field research lasted ten long days and consisted of the exploration of patch coral reef systems, the continental shelf, marine caves, interior marshes, and the various types of underwater environments (from shallow, to sand flats, and beyond).  We kept journals to document the trips, the organisms encountered, and the weather data for each day.  We also collected data on hard coral cover and parrotfish populations that was then added to several decades of data collected at the same patch reef systems by previous classes.

My experience on San Salvador Island was life-changing.  I frequently present my research finding to tribal colleges and students around the country because of how much the experience moved me.  Scientists often describe the underwater world as being one of the oldest ecosystems living on our planet.  It is millions of years old, and evolutionists argue it is the origin of all land life – the reason why humans have webs between their fingers and why the fluid of the amniotic sac is of the same salinity as ocean water.  Yet, as a Shawnee woman, I also recognize the Atlantic Ocean as one interpretation of our Creation story.  Even stories of Turtle Island in other cultures reflect the importance of water to the first stories of their peoples.  In other words, this ecosystem has stood the ultimate test of time…until now.

When my professor first started collecting data in the early 1990s, the coral reefs on San Salvador Island were, relatively speaking, thriving.  In 2013, we discovered a significant decrease in all measures of biodiversity.  Coral was becoming bleached, algae was consuming the available nutrients, light, and space, and fish populations were suffering.  Not only that, but tourists had devastated the island and even inflicted damaged on our fenced-off research areas in the middle of our research collection process.  Shrimping boats scoured the famous 1-mile drop of the continental shelf and poached adolescent conch shells littered the beach, the adults being so scarce that the immature flesh is now being illegally harvested.

San Salvador Island used to be the home to a people related to the Taino tribe.  In fact, the island we were on is arguably the first island Columbus reached in 1492.  Within 30 to 50 years, colonizers managed to enslave and completely remove the tribal people from the island, selling them for next-to-nothing prices until they found the value in their ability to dive for conches and other seafood.  Conches were always a part of their traditional diet, but they had practiced an intuitive balance that respected the ebb and flow of the natural world they were ingrained to interpret and respect.  Now that invaders without respect for the land and their ways had come into the picture, the island was devastated and exploited, its population completely replaced by African slaves once the original inhabitants died from disease or were removed altogether.

Today, the island remains in turmoil, but its destruction is accelerated on a more global level.  While we studied the populations that were disappearing on the island, we also learned about calcium carbonate precipitation.  Calcium carbonate is the compound that is used to make fish bones, shellfish shells, and coral structures.  It is the literal backbone of ocean life.  However, calcium carbonate only precipitates into water under certain conditions.  With an increase of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, an imbalance is created of hydroxide (OH-), resulting in the acidification of the water.  Simultaneously, the heat that usually radiates back into space is blocked by a change in the atmosphere and reflected into the ground and water surfaces, very slightly increasing the temperature of oceans.  Finally, the imbalance of compounds in the water, altered by slowed precipitation, causes the formation of calcium carbonate to be scarce.  Organisms therefore struggle to find the nutrients needed to grow.  In some cases, they are simply never born at all.  The emissions from human activity around the world since the Industrial Revolution have completely broken the balance of this precipitation process.  The result is a coral reef system that is expected to be extinct as early as 2050.  In other words, an ecosystem as old as life on earth will be completely destroyed by humanity during the course of my lifetime.

 

Hozho in the Southwest

            Maybe the Taino people of present-day San Salvador Island had a name for their practices that lead to a balanced ecosystem of their island.  From a Navajo perspective, however, their intuitive way of life could be described as the implementation of Hozho.  Conch populations, coral reefs, and the occasional sea turtle were witnessed by my classmates on our trip because of the practices those people had maintained on that island for the history of their existence.  If they had not practiced such a balanced lifestyle, perhaps those creatures would not have existed even as Columbus landed in the 15th century.  So how can this apply to the southwest?

The southwest is plagued by a very interesting and incredibly intricate number of climate changing factors.  First of all, it is a desert area of varied aridity.  Specifically in reference to Navajoland, this semi-arid desert lacks significant rainfall but is not immune to rain, snow, or the melting of snow in the surrounding mountainous regions.  High winds also tear across the region, and both the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its counterpart La Nina bring varying cycles of precipitation.  It is always important to remember that the southwest may go through periods of droughts, but that these droughts are part of a regular cycle.  The question more becomes how often and how intense are these droughts, and what other factors are involved that drive more devastating impacts on the region?

A lot of focus in the southwest is placed on what are called Hadley cells.  Hadley cells are essentially the life cycles of evaporated water.  These cells appear on either side of the equator, the part of the world that receives the most heat and therefore which produces the most evaporated surface water.  This water is brought into the sky and drifts away from the equator until its energy is dissipated.  The effect of this dissipation causes a wet zone bordered by a dry region from which additional moisture is drawn during the precipitation process.  However, as global temperatures are increasing on the surface (as previously mentioned), the thermodynamic energy of these cells increase, resulting in greater storms and expanding Hadley cells.  Scientists are now watching these cells migrate and expect the Sonoran desert to soon consume Tucson and later Socorro, New Mexico as it proceeds northward under current atmospheric trends.

Yet, as you move into the regions of Dine Bikeyah, some of the greatest concerns become the dust and the erosion.  Dust storms form, sand dunes migrate across roads and against fences, and washes cut deeper and deeper each season.  An unseen factor in the equation?  Dust that lands on the snowcaps of the mountains, which is also referred to as albedo, inevitably darkens the surface against the heat of the sun, causing a premature thawing of those snowcaps and therefore completely destroying the thaw cycle and delivery of water to receiving watersheds during the course of a year.  This alteration in delivery changes the growing season of many plants.  The changing of growing seasons also affects the feeding schedule of livestock, and livestock has become an arguably more modern center to Navajo tradition.

The changes of a growing season can cause herds to starve when the supply is low, or cause horses to founder when the supply is high.  Regardless, livestock on the Navajo Nation scramble on open-grazing areas to overgraze on erosion-preventing plants.  In some cases, they are attracted to newly reseeded construction projects and become a hazard to motorists in the area.  Regardless, the increasing population of free-roaming animals contributes to the consumption of erosion-battling plants, the turning-up of soils by hooves, and even the distribution of undigested seeds that spread troublesome plants like mesquite across far distances.  The most troubling part?  Livestock on the Navajo Nation is a more newly introduced tradition, yet it is already contributing significantly to the loss if hozho in the natural ways of the land.

I remember one of the first Leading the Way editions that I bought when I moved to Window Rock described the need to harvest only a portion of a yucca root.  This is an example of Hozho in good ecosystem practice.  However, a short walk around a part of the Navajo Reservation will likely uncover washes with open dumps, broken bottles along the side of the road, and livestock wandering aimlessly and unclaimed to find any amount of available vegetation to consume.  The result is increasing amounts of contamination, pollution, and erosion.  Navajo Philosophy requires a high amount of accountability for considering how to make decisions in life, yet the problems of climate change on the Navajo Nation indicate a departure from that accountability and those practices.  Additionally, resources are being exploited for greed accelerated by monetary greed, and there is little to no consideration for the health of the environment or people affected.  In these ways, hozho is collapsing and it is not unrealistic to say the future of the Navajo ecosystem will one day resemble the fate of San Salvador Island.

 

Conclusion

Navajo Philosophy requires certain elements for good governance.  This includes equity, equality, focus on the issues at hand, shared information, accountability, sustainability, assessment, and self-interest – the components we were presented with during our NIS371 course.  Yet, all of the components contributing to climate change and poor land stewardship demonstrate a severe lacking in some – if not all – of these areas.  Regardless of geographical location, the interruption of long-practiced methods by indigenous communities to maintain balance in their respective environments results in a rapid degradation of that system.  This inherent knowledge can be viewed as a part of the epistemology of that culture.  Now it is the responsibility of policy-makers and influencers to understand the lack of hozho in modern practices and implement changes that will restore a healthy balance to Dine Bikeyah and prevent a re-creation of San Salvador Island.

balance and the earth’s bioindicator.

On Sunday, I led a class on “Imagination”.  Most of the activities we can choose from for this section have to do with Global Warming.  I decided to do this activity called a “tea party” where I pass out roles to students for them to read out loud and later discuss.  Basically, the roles were testimonies from real people regarding the way their lives are being impacted by the idea of Global Warming.  A lot of the roles were from environmentalists or indigenous peoples.  Those were the ones who cared about stopping recent trends.  In particular, the indigenous roles discussed how entire cultures were being threatened by the effects of lifestyles others partake in, but which they do not themselves condone.  But there were also roles from people who were CEOs of businesses like airlines or nuclear energy facilities.  These people thought their efforts were the “lesser evil” in the energy departments, or their arguments were based on the services they’re expected to provide.  And, of course, there’s the argument about economy and creating independence for their countries.
We discussed these testimonies and how we could use our imaginations to create solutions.  But I actually found it pretty hard to lead the discussion.  No matter what solution we tried to come up with, all I could think was “Well, THAT’s a Band-Aid…” and “REDUCING emissions is still creating emissions”, etc.  I’ve become fairly convinced anymore that we simply cannot live a life of convenience.  It will never be sustainable…. But that’s not completely true.
When you look at the timeline of human history in relation to the Global Warming theory, most of our destruction has been in recent years.  While I hate that we are destroying the planet, the reality is destructive things have come in and out throughout the course of the Earth’s history.  The difference is what those pressures have been and how they’ve forced organisms to respond and adapt.  In other words, maybe there’s a balance to living a convenient lifestyle and living a sustainable one – we just have to give the Earth more time to catch up before we destroy the whole web.
If you damage part of a spider’s web, it can rebuild from what’s still there.  If you swat it down, that spider has to rebuild from nothing or die without a web to catch its food.
Being in an Environmental field, I’ve always had a limited view on Conservation.  I’ve always hated zoos, but anymore I question if we go to far trying to “save” certain species.  Things are meant to evolve.  If we have stressed an environment so much that species are changing, maybe we should let them change and recover on their own.  Otherwise, it’s like giving someone steroids instead of a healthy diet and weight lifting plan.  Or giving the fish instead of teaching how to fish.  Everything comes with a balance.
An interesting example of this is elephants.  Poaching is a ridiculous theft of innocent animal life.  Google for poached elephants and you will see images of elephants on their knees, their faces sliced off through their brains and their bodies just sitting there, discarded.  Humans can be so terrible, lazy, and selfish – and especially misguided.  But the amazing part about poaching is – it’s forcing elephants to evolve.  Their tusks are important for defense and winning mates, yet the very tools for securing reproduction are less important than the need to dispose of them to evade poachers.
elephants
In reality, it’s probably the smaller tusked-elephants having less competition, but it’s sad to see humans are the number 1 threat to these amazing beasts.
Nature has a lot of signs to tell us something is wrong, it’s just most people don’t take the time to think and care about it.  In particular, there are things – organisms or other signs – in nature that are considered excellent bioindicators of different environmental threats.
bioindicator
[ ˌbīōˈindiˌkātər ]
NOUN
noun: bioindicator · plural noun: bioindicators
an organism whose status in an ecosystem is analyzed as an indication of the ecosystem’s heath.
Powered by OxfordDictionaries · © Oxford University Press

Amphibians are a common bioindicator.  They absorb so much through their skin that they’re more quickly affected by pollution and contaminants than other organisms in an ecosystem.  So, if the frogs start dying, it’s time to figure out what’s going on before the larger creatures start dropping off, too.  But these typical bioindicators are generally used for an isolated ecosystem.  What indicates the health of the planet as a whole?  Well, I talked about this on Sunday to my students.  To me, one of the most sensitive bioindicators for the planet is: The Ocean.  Here’s what I told them…

In 2012, I traveled with SUNY Brockport to study San Salvador Island in the Bahamas.  It was a Biology/Geology course with a focus on Global Warming.  Now, some people hear “Global Warming” and they look outside at this harsh winter and scoff at the idea.  Yeah…You’re taking the idea too literally and looking at it too locally – the same problem with most of humanity.  We only care about the picture we live in and we fail to look at it as a whole.  Or, we simply don’t get it.  Like this guy:

It’s called a Greenhouse effect because of this: Picture a Greenhouse.  It harbors life where it is warm, can get sunlight, and can breathe and grow.  If you start a chainsaw in it, it will poison the air.  Start a car, it will eventually choke you and everyone else out.  Now, picture the Earth as a giant Greenhouse.  Enough cars and we choke out.  Also, trees make up the Earth’s “lungs” – so as we cut down trees, we cut down on the Earth’s lung capacity, and we accelerate us “choking out”.  If we don’t die from the atmosphere, we’ll die from the side effects of the atmosphere becoming increasingly tainted.

Greenhouse Effect

(P.S. I stole these images from the Internet…they’re not mine…)

So global warming is our increased emissions of CO2 building up inside our Greenhouse.  What does this mean for the planet?  Well, did you know that a lot of theories believe life came from the Ocean?  Whether you believe that or not, I think it’s hard to deny that the Ocean has some of the most ancient life forms on this planet.  Even if you believe the Earth was subjected to some kind of flood, I think it’s arguable that a flooded planet would harbor ocean life before anything else.  Furthermore, if you smooth out the planet so it’s completely flat, we would be living under 1.6 miles of water.  So, before tectonic plates began changing the depths and creating land, life was in theory thriving in those watery depths.

Okay – so Ocean Life has been here for (relatively speaking) forever…but as my trip to the Bahamas proved, the Ocean is RAPIDLY DYING.  We studied the coral reefs and parrotfish populations that live within those reefs.  Coral reefs are incredibly sensitive – not just to human activity (jet skis, people breaking the reefs, ships, etc.), but to indirect human or atmospherical activity.  In other words, the coral reefs to the Ocean are kind of like the amphibians to a small ecosystem.  And, if the Ocean is the “origin of life” – or at least the oldest, longest-standing habitat for it – then its recent rapid depletion should make it the planet’s BIOINDICATOR that something is seriously wrong.  So why is it so sensitive?

http://player.d.nationalgeographic.com/players/ngsvideo/share/?feed=http://feed.theplatform.com/f/ngs/dCCn2isYZ9N9&guid=2c9a368c-99f9-47e3-a748-ab35bdf70079&link=http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/

Coral reefs are the home to so many important organisms that keep incredibly biodiverse parts of the planet in motion.  Some animals eat the organisms that live in the coral structures (the coral organisms that build the structures themselves).  You can hear this if you hold your breath underwater and listen to the parrotfish.  They scrape and crunch as they go along, so it’s kind of like an underwater static that gets really loud when you’ve found a whole colony of hungry fish.  My favorite parrotfish is the Stoplight Parrotfish.  Like most fish, Parrotfish have different phases.  A Stoplight is an example of a fish with an Initial Phase:

initial parrotfish

Who then grows into my favorite, the Terminal Phase:

stoplight-parrot-fish-tropical-water

These Stoplight Parrotfish are also an example of an organism that can change its sex, theoretically allowing it to fill the community needs for reproduction.  We kept journals of all the fish we saw, but we also took population counts on the different varieties of Parrotfish to add to our study of the reef’s health.

Of course, the easiest way to assess the health of the reef is to look at its literal backbone: the coral itself.  In the Bahamas, besides actual reef damage, we’ve noted an alarming increase in what is called “bleaching”.  This is when the coral blanches because the zooxanthellae – the coral organisms – die.  It’s literally dead coral.  To accelerate this loss, there are algae blooms moving in.   These algae thrive on the various contaminants and pollutants that have been cropping up in our waters.  This is also a problem in the Great Lakes, especially after a storm event that washes contaminants into the water.  When algae thrives, it will block out light to organisms lower in the water.  When it clings to the coral, it accelerates the death of the zooxanthellae, consumes light and resources, and spreads.  It’s all a bad imbalance.

bleaching

But the coral are also struggling to grow.

How do coral “grow”?  Well, they build.  They build onto their structure which is, essentially, made of limestone: Calcium Carbonate, or CaCO3.  Coral organisms filter the water and get the minerals they need to build their homes.  These homes house the organisms that feed and protect so much biodiversity in the water.  The problem with Global Warming is… It’s destroying that basic chemical process.

Coralreefsandclimatechange

Normally, the atmosphere has CO2.  This CO2 precipitates in the ocean water, combining with H2O to create Carbonic Acid (like what’s in soda), hydrogen ions (H,+), bicarbonate (HCO,3-), and carbonate ions (CO3,2-).  This balance is really important because it determines the amount of free protons in the seawater – and free protons determine pH.  Life is very sensitive to changes in pH.

acidification_chemistry_chart_3-uun9tj

Well, CO2 dissolves very easily from its gaseous state into the water.  The problem is, we’ve been increasing the amount of CO2 in the air so much that the oceans are acidifying.  H,+ is the ion we look for to determine acid concentrations, and it’s exactly what’s being formed by all the excess CO2 in the air.  As the ocean acidifies, the tendency is for bicarbonates to be produced over the carbonate ions.  Meanwhile, there are calcium ions naturally in the water.  These can only bond to the carbonate ions.  When carbonate ions bond with calcium ions, they create calcium carbonate – or CaCO3.  Yes, the exact thing coral uses to live and grow.

So, as we produce emissions, we create a more acidic ocean, we destroy the ability to make calcium carbonate, thereby choking out the coral, increasing the algae bloom problem which also chokes out the coral, and therefore destroying the habitat for incredibly diverse, ancient ecosystems.

beforeandafter1

Yes, I consider these habitats an enormous planet bioindicator, and it’s indicating that we’re destroying the Earth.

In just the 20 years our Professor had been taking students to a handful of reefs for data collection on the island, he has seen the coral cover and parrotfish populations diminish to, relatively speaking, next to nothing.  These reefs used to look much more beautiful, but we had to swim far and wide to find coral that didn’t have colors being choked out by green and brown algae.  We swam along “The Wall”, where the ocean literally drops from 60 feet deep to over a mile of water.  Normally, one will spot a number of Hammerhead Sharks.  The only shark we saw was a Nurse Shark who had come unusually far up the shoreline.  You might think this is a relief, but we viewed it as a concern.  This popular vacation destination – the Caribbean – is dying because of human habit, and tourists are definitely making that happen faster.

beforeandafter2

Since the 1900s, there has been a 30% increase of H,+ ions in the Ocean.  Since the 1950s, the average temperature has increased by 0.31C in the top 300m of water.  Coral requires 25-29C, so it’s pretty sensitive.  Take a look at the changes in relation to the Industrial Revolution:

Climate Change

It’s predicted that 60% of the Earth’s coral reefs will be lost by the next 25 years.  And what about the 25 after that?

The carbonate threshold is predicted to be reached by 2050.  In other words, forget about retiring to snorkel in the reefs.  They’re going to be gone in under 40 years – UNLESS these environments are able to adapt quickly enough.   There have been prehistoric coral colony collapses that resulted in the corals we know today, but do we really want to be responsible for these threats to the planet?

To end on a less depressing note, check out how awesome the Triggerfish is when he swims: