Saturday, June 2, 2012

Elders interpret climate change in the Peruvian Andes

Milgros Salazar in the Business Mirror via IPS: A unique response to the challenge of global warming is happening in rural areas of Peru, where a network of indigenous elders is working out how to adjust weather forecasts in the light of climate change, while taking measures to safeguard their crops. “Before, things happened at the right time. Now, strange things are going on with the climate.”

...“People are clearly aware that the rains arrive early or late, the wells dry out quickly, frosts come at any time, the soil is more compacted due to the heat and because water does not infiltrate into the soil to the same extent,” sociologist Ricardo Claverías, with the Centre for Research, Education and Development (CIED), told Inter Press Service (IPS).

Since the 1980s the CIED has worked to protect and preserve the traditional knowledge of campesinos in a score of communities in Puno. “We know the climate is changing by looking at nature. For example, up until 10 years ago, that apu [mountain peak] had snow on its crest all year round,” Valentín Ccahuana, leader of the Ccasacancha community in Apurímac, told representatives of the United Nations Joint Programme on Climate Change in Cuzco.

But indigenous campesinos in the highlands have developed a wealth of traditional knowledge over generations from observation of bioindicators, like the behavior of plants and animals. “Their accumulated experience gives them an edge on dealing with the challenges posed by climate change today,” Edwin Mansilla, head of the environmental management division of the Cuzco regional government, told IPS...

A view of the Cordillera Huallanca, by Waterloo, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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