Climate change matters: A letter to the U.S. presidential candidates

Shirley Fiske an environmental anthropologist and research professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, published a letter to the U.S. presidential candidates in CounterPunch. It begins:

We are in the final week of the Presidential campaign of 2012, buffeted by a massive storm that wreaked havoc in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.  SuperStorm Sandy has demonstrated the devastation that nature can bring even with the best public compliance behavior and sophisticated forecasts and warnings.”

Fiske goes on to argue that anthropology can play an important role in climate change studies and policy:

“Climate change is a ‘wicked problem’ as policy experts have termed it and solutions are not easy; but we can’t afford to let climate and adaptation fall off the policy agenda. Anthropologists and other environmental social scientists can help by describing how climate changes are affecting communities and their capacity to sustain lives and livelihoods. We can help work with communities to strengthen their resilience in the face of adverse change by improving adaptive capacity. And, we can help work with governments to shape policy that reflects the cultural guideposts that are central to actually achieving intended results.  But it is far harder to do our work if climate policy becomes a policy of neglect, if no one is listening to the plights of real people, and our leaders aren’t talking about either climate change or infrastructure.”

The full article is available here.

Fiske is also Chair of the American Anthropological Association Task Force on Global Climate Change and a former NOAA program official, and senior legislative advisor in the U.S. Senate, working on climate, oceans, fisheries, public lands and energy issues. Contact her at sjfiske@gmail.com

 

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