As Arctic temperatures soar, EJF prepares to meet the Sami communities affected by climate change
The Arctic, and the communities who live there, are highly vulnerable to climate change. Unprecedented high temperatures and the warmest Arctic winter on record show that climate change is having dangerous impacts on one of the world’s most fragile environments.
Arctic communities are especially exposed to the effects of warming temperatures, which are threatening their traditional lifestyles and their rights and identity. But the problems facing these groups, like the indigenous Sami people, remain unheard.
EJF is preparing to head to the Arctic Circle in Sweden to meet the Sami to learn and document how climate change is impacting their lives.
EJF’s Climate Campaign is making sure that the people whose lives are affected by climate change are heard. They are often from vulnerable communities, and struggle to gain recognition in the global debate. Rarely have these groups contributed to climate change. Yet they live its consequences.
The Sami are directly feeling the direct effects of climate change in the Arctic. Hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding, all of which rely and depend on the stability of the environment, are central to their livelihoods and their identities.
Journeys over land and sea ice, integral to the their semi-nomadic lifestyle, are becoming more difficult and dangerous as conditions become increasingly unpredictable. Reindeer populations are threatened as their food becomes inaccessible due to warmer winters. Storms are becoming more frequent and intense, increasing the risk of accidents.
The Arctic Warning
The Arctic is an indicator of future climate patterns around the world, and scientists are calling for this year’s high temperatures to be considered a warning. The northernmost weather station of the world saw temperatures 20℃ above what is normal at this time of year. Sea ice, during a time when it should be at its maximum extent, is at record lows.
The recent cold snap that gripped northern Europe is linked to the Arctic’s record warming. The weakening of the polar vortex, which usually locks up Arctic air near the North Pole, acting as a gate both keeping warm air out and cold air in, caused cold air to escape south and allowed warm air to stream north.
Climate change is a potential cause of this breakdown, and Europe’s unusually cold weather may be a displacement of what should be taking place in the Arctic.
Scientists predict that heat waves like the one currently being felt in the Arctic will become more frequent, intense and longer. This will impact the global climate and ecosystems, and threaten the survival of Arctic communities such as the Sami.
EJF’s Climate Campaign
EJF calls on all countries to rapidly and fully implement that Paris Climate Agreement. All efforts must be made to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5℃. Achieving and maintaining this goal is vital to protect people and planet.