Environmental Justice and Climate Change | Part 1 of 4
Natural Resource Management. Bunky Echo-Hawk (2006).Credit: Palgrave Journals
Part 1 | Toward an Arid-Sensible Way of Life
INDIGENOUS RIGHT LIVELIHOODS and CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION
Note from Devon Peña: I am posting a four-part analysis and discussion of environmental justice and climate change beginning with today’s essay on the cultural implications of climate change. Today’s post focuses on the importance of protecting arid-sensible ways of life as a source of understanding of adaptation to climate change. I highlight the cases of the rainwater harvesting and community irrigation canal systems of India and the U.S. Southwest.
The goal of the series is to illuminate the connections between indigenous land- and water-based cultures and the broadening climate justice movements. I am especially concerned in this series with exploring issues that connect food sovereignty, cultural autonomy, and climate change. This includes a detailed and critical deconstruction of the idea of GMO crops as the next panacea for solving climate change. The series ends by exploring how the environmental, food, and climate justice movements are converging and how this trend might be amplified as a major aspect of these struggles.
Devon G. Peña, The Acequia Institute | Seattle, WA | October 22, 2014
I first learned about the rain harvesting and canal irrigation systems of India from Vandana Shiva when she visited Colorado College in 1994 to deliver the Daniel Patrick O’Connor Memorial Lecture in Social Justice. After her lecture, we shared a road trip to visit the acequias (community irrigation associations) and common lands (ejidos) of the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado.
Vandana was struck by the similarities between the “watershed commonwealth” of the Río Arriba acequias in Colorado and India’s own community irrigation institutions that she later wrote about in her book, Water Wars. Like the acequias, the Indian rain harvest and irrigation systems – for e.g., the naula, zabo and kuhl – comprise part of a rich variety of arid-sensible ways of life found across much of the arid and semi-arid regions of the world.[i]