Aboriginal responses to climate change in arid zone Australia: Regional understandings and capacity building for adaptation

Authors: Paul Memmott, Joseph Reser, Brian Head, James Davidson, Daphne Nash, Tim O’Rourke, Harshi Gamage, Samid Suliman, Andrew Lowry and Keith Marshall
Year: 2013

This report records the establishment of a climate adaptation group and adaptation strategy for five Aboriginal communities in the Upper Georgina River Basin (UGRB), QLD. A survey demonstrated similar levels of acceptance and concern regarding climate changeamong the UGRB communities as that of national survey respondents. However, there was an appreciably higher level of uncertainty among the Aboriginal respondents regarding the causes and consequences of climate change. Knowledge of climate change was clearly related to the age, gender, experience, work, education and other life history considerations. Predictability of the weather has become a real problem. Aboriginal people are increasingly uncertain about the weather and have adapted their behavior in response: e.g. hunting when conditions are likely to be most productive rather than following the previous practice of seasonally based activities. However, climate change was also considered a less salient and immediate issue than more immediate social, health, economic concerns and challenges. Aboriginal respondents expressed that they are likely to stay on their land even as climate change progresses, due to cultural obligations and a commitment to ‘traditional ways’.

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