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Social and economic aspects of climate change in arctic regions
by Hugh  Beach
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Philosophical Storms
  Should climatic change become more rapid and drastic than the previous course of evolution has prepared us for as organisms we are threatened, and if the added adaptive flexibility granted our human species through cultural transformation or even desperate scientific survival strategy is insufficient, our cultures, our species and maybe even life on this planet are doomed. Philosophers might convince us that there is neither ultimate failure nor ultimate success in the venture of Mind. The ecological relations of our planet would not desist with the demise of the human population, human cultures or the human mind. But this is little consolation. It is entirely natural and necessary for our own survival that we try to look after our own human interests in this ongoing struggle or beautiful Dance of Life. However, should human purposiveness and human survival success become too dominant in the ecological system of the Whole, the whole of the current system is threatened and thereby also ourselves as part of it.
  While this is the dilemma of all life forms within the greater life of Mother Earth, the human species today has attained a special expression of what might be called this Mixed Blessing. The remarkably accelerating impact of humankind upon the biosphere steers us toward increasing ease of self-fulfilling prophecy with respect to it, and, as pointed out by Gregory Bateson 30 years ago, our ideas about ecology become part of the ecological problem. In effect, our own ecological precepts become manifest to a degree never attainable by pre-industrialized tribal peoples, though maybe imagined by indigenous cosmologies.
  Thus our ideas concerning not only the ecological science of modern western man, but also concerning the ecological understanding of indigenous peoples are crucial to the survival venture. The modern-day researcher might smile wryly at the thought that the animal spirits and shamanic personages of indigenous cosmologies have upheld the World Order, secured the rising of the sun and kept the stars aligned. And yet, the very fact that these cosmologies have not tipped the balance of systemic wholeness so effectively toward human success has indeed promoted human continuity and spared us many of the serious problems facing humanity today. Of course it is useful for any scientist with a purposive mission to respect the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples. Indigenous scientists of the hunt possess generations of practical experience and intimate knowledge of their habitat and their prey. But the mere facile appendage of indigenous data onto the scientific repertoire fails fundamentally to embrace the essence of indigenous knowledge. Indigenous knowledge comprises far more than ineffectual cosmologies, unknowingly non-harmful cosmologies, or detailed environmental observations; it often contains as well deep understanding of the balance required by humankind to maintain a place in Nature. Most importantly, it also forces upon us a purposiveness perspective other than our own, one dedicated to indigenous survival even if unified with us on the general humanitarian level.
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Social and economic aspects of climate change in arctic regions, by Hugh Beach.
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