After a weekend of celebrating our mothers and feeling thankful for the women mentors in our lives, it seems particularly fitting to pay tribute to Karen Diver, a mother who has emerged as a leader in pushing the American government towards greater urgency in addressing the local impacts of climate change on vulnerable American Indian communities.
She represents the interests of the United States' 566 federally recognized tribes as a member of President Barack Obama's Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which includes governors, mayors, county officials, and Tribal leaders from across the country. These leaders are using their first-hand experiences in their collaboration to build climate preparedness and resilience in their own communities, and to inform task force recommendations to the Administration. For Diver, this means drawing upon the effects and stressors of climate change as seen through the eyes of Fond du Lac residents, who are unusually interconnected to their habitat and natural resources -- they still hunt, fish, trap, net and spear their own food.
Diver pointed out (in 2008) that "Women exercise leadership in different ways than men. Definitely, we try to achieve consensus and that may sometimes be perceived as less 'powerful.' "
Thanks and congratulations to Karen Diver, and to the entire Fond du Lac community, which is on track to hit its energy use targets three years ahead of schedule, through the implementation of solutions and policies which lower the energy use of its buildings, lighting, and transportation systems. For more inspiration from climate leaders, check out Path to Positive success stories.
The effects of climate change are already being felt across America. In Alaska, rising sea levels and eroding coastlines have forced a dozen different communities to relocate. In the Southwest, the risk of forest fires is increasing, water supplies are dwindling and native animal species are coming under threat. Scientists estimate that if left unchecked, climate change will affect millions of Americans in the years to come.
American Indian communities are among the most vulnerable as the planet warms, and they've been at the forefront of the movement to address climate change. One of the leaders who has emerged is Karen Diver, the chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, an American Indian tribal community in northeastern Minnesota. Last year, Diver was one of two tribal representatives who served on President Barack Obama's Task Force On Climate Resilience, and she pushed the government to adopt a greater sense of urgency in tackling climate change.
The situation in some native communities, particularly in Alaska, is "dire," Diver told The Huffington Post in a recent interview. "Raising awareness about how immediate the danger is took a lot of people by surprise."
The task force recommended a host of solutions. The federal government, it said, should give local communities access to better climate projections and mapping technologies, so they can consider different scenarios when they're making decisions about land use. The task force also called on the government to take the lead in encouraging communities to plan for flooding and other climate-related hazards, and said the government should remove certain federal policies that might act as barriers to such development. Finally, the group called for more federal support for improving energy, water use and transportation systems to better serve a world affected by climate change. The task force's recommendations are meant to help communities plan for a future where planetary warming is not a theoretical possibility, but a certainty.
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