The severe weather extremes of recent years has many more people considering climate change and our impact on the planet, but a Senate committee last week heard from a group that is directly impacted, and what they had to say should be heard by everyone who claims climate change isn't real.

Members of several West Coast tribes and Alaska communities were in Washington last week for a symposium on the impact of climate change.

The Associated Press reported that during a committee hearing, Hawaii Senator and committee chairman Daniel Akaka said that native communities are disproportionately impacted because they depend on nature for traditional food, sacred sites and for cultural ceremonies.

Villages are being wiped out by coastal erosion. According to the Associated Press, Mike Williams, chief of the Yupit Nation in Akiak, Alaska, to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee how the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race had to be moved because of a lack of snowfall, and how it had become necessary for the dogs to run at night to stay cool.

"We've always lived off the land and off the waters and continue to do that. But we're bearing the burden of living with these conditions today," The Associated Press reported Williams telling the committee.

Participants in the First Steward symposium urged Congress to come up with a plan to address the impact of climate change, which threatens their very existence. It is past time for us to open our eyes to this growing problem, and set a national agenda that is focused on protecting our planet and ensure a safe and healthy environment for future generations.

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