Rarely has something so precious fallen into such unsafe hands. Since Jair Bolsonaro took the Brazilian presidency in 2019, the Amazon, which makes up 10 percent of our planet’s biodiversity and absorbs an estimated 5 percent of global carbon emissions, has been hit with a record number of fires and unprecedented deforestation.
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Australia has always had bushfires, the result of being the driest inhabited continent on earth combined with high temperatures. Its indigenous people, who predate European colonization by some 40,000 years, learned to manage and mitigate fire risk through specific knowledge of local ecosystems and carefully controlled burnings. As Australia suffers through drought, heatwaves and devastating bushfires this summer, practitioners of indigenous fire management report greater interest in their work than ever before.
For the first time in the state’s history, the NSW Rural Fire Service has created two all-Indigenous firefighting crews.
Australia’s wildfires—which, since September, have burned 17.9 million acres of the continent—have not only turned skies vermillion and made breathing the air a health hazard, they have also claimed the lives of an estimated 27 people and 1 billion animals. This global warming-fueled crisis began thanks to a combination of lightning, arson, and an unusually hot and dry summer season.
If there was any year to honor the youth, 2019 sure as hell would be it. Around the world this year, young people took to the streets and demanded their governments take action to address climate change. Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has been held up as the face of the new youth movement, but even she’s admitted she’s new to this fight. You know who aren’t? Indigenous youth.
“Sometimes I have to sleep in my van.”
Notes from strategy session for raid on Wet’suwet’en nation’s ancestral lands show commanders argued for ‘lethal overwatch.’
The case studies, images, and content for this article are drawn from the exhibition “Climate Stories,” curated by the author and on view at the Global Museum at San Francisco State University through May 22, 2020.
As the big dry bites and temperature records tumble, Aboriginal people in Alice Springs say global heating threatens their culture and very survival.