The scale of human impact on theglobal environment has been marked and measured in precise detail, withsometimes not so precisely placed accountability. Temperatures are slowlyincreasing globally, and science has established the correlation between an increasein carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and an increase in ambient temperature; yet,despite markers throughout recent history that identify the anthropogenic pollutantsarising from industry and technology that contribute to atmospheric carbondioxide levels, the distribution of the carbon dioxide budget is hotly debated.Climatic changes in the global environment have always had broad impacts, andsometimes mass extinctions have resulted, but with the current crises having thedistinction of being a human generated impact it suggests potentiality for amoderated outcome (Mulder and Coppolillo 2005: 3). This is not to say the planetwill be left unscarred from the impact, and it remains to be seen whether ornot human accountability initiates change quickly enough to mitigate theresulting effects of climate change.Theidea that human activity might effect the planet’s climate was first introducedover a century ago, but it is only in the past sixty years that concerns about theimpact of human generated global climate change on the planet’s environment havebeen vigorously debated, first in the scientific community, then in publicvenues with the rise of environmentalism in the 1970s.
After decades of intenseresearch on an international scale, including studies of prehistoric climates, computermodels and quantitative data confirm that increased levels of carbon dioxide contributeto increased temperatures on the planet. But, models differ, and opinions varyon whether those temperatures fall into a manageable or catastrophic rangedespite the adverse effects of global warming already visible in some regions.Historically, it has be recognized that natural resource-dependent indigenouspopulations have been the most vulnerable to activities that negatively impactthe environment, and it has been acknowledged they inhabit some of the mostclimatically vulnerable ecosystems on the planet, yet, until recently, climatechange dialog has failed to include the international indigenous voice,compounding the dilemma associated with climate change. When the indigenouscommunities were invited into the conversation, it became obvious their generationsdeep knowledge of their ethno-botanical environments, also known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK),could contribute significantly to conservation policy regarding the ecosystemmanagement of their lands threatened with the impact of climate change.