Climate Change and Subsistence

What It Means to Alaskans and How We Can Adapt

How does climate change affect subsistence?

fish camp on Koyukuk

Subsistence fish camp on the Koyukuk River, Alaska. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rural Alaskans harvest more of their food from the sea and land than other Americans. Subsistence activities provide important cultural connections to nature and community, as well as nourishment. The warming climate is causing a host of environmental changes that affect Alaska’s subsistence culture.

What are Alaskans observing?

What are scientists telling us?

How is climate change affecting us now, and what can we expect in the future?

What is causing climate change?

Atmospheric scientists say that the worldwide use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) releases gases into the air that trap heat, which would otherwise escape into space. Some scientists also point to the earth’s natural climate cycle as a factor in increasing atmospheric temperatures. Though there remains some debate about the causes, scientists agree that the earth is warming.

What can subsistence users do to halt or reverse these changes?

Individuals can’t do much to reverse global trends on their own, but they can join a worldwide effort to reduce use of fossil fuels. Even if this happens it will be decades before results are apparent.

How can subsistence users adapt?

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