Anticipating Climatic Variability: The Potential of Ecological Calendars
The call on mountains as sentinels of change covers a range of different projects, one run by our colleague Karim-Aly S. Kassam. Similarly to P³, they now have also written an overview article on their project, which is called ECCAP: Ecological Calendars and Climate Adaptation in the Pamirs.
Indigenous and rural societies who have contributed least to anthropogenic climate change are facing its harshest consequences. One of the greatest challenges of climate change is lack of predictability, especially at the local scale. An estimated 70-80% of the world’s food is produced by small-holders with less than two hectares of land (FAO 2014; Lowder et al. 2016). These small-scale farmers and herders face an ever-shifting ‘new normal’ climate, increasing inconsistency in the seasonality of temperature and precipitation, and higher frequency of what were once considered extreme weather events (Jolly et al. 2002; Thornton et al. 2014). Climate variability is disrupting food systems and generating a debilitating anxiety (Carroll et al. 2009; Kassam 2009a,b; Coyle and Susteren 2011; UN Human Rights Council 2016). Anticipatory capacity – the ability to envision possible futures and develop a plan of action to deal with uncertainties – is needed urgently (Tschakert and Dietrich 2010).
Communities and researchers must create innovative systems to recognize and respond to climate trends and prepare for a greater range of possible scenarios (Reid et al. 2014; Cuerrier et al. 2015). To build anticipatory capacity for climate change, communities need systems that are effective at the scale of the village and valley (Berkes and Jolly 2001; Downing and Cuerrier 2011). While climate scientists have increased model capabilities to make more accurate projections of global climate conditions, the uncertainties of global climate modeling together with those of downscaling methods means that these models are not always reliable at regional and local scales (Salick and Ross 2009). Synergy between indigenous ecological knowledge and climate science has already benefitted many local communities, as well as international understanding of climate change drivers and impacts (Jolly et al. 2002; Nickels et al. 2005; Nyong et al. 2007; Kassam 2009a; Alexander et al. 2011; Boillat and Berkes 2013; Rapinski et al. 2017;). Similarly, ground-truthing climate models with indigenous ecological knowledge can be used to refine downscaling methods and to inform planning and policies at local, regional, and national levels.
Find the full article here.