Blog: Climate change affects Northwest tribes
"Last week, when I wrote that the costs of doing nothing about climate change outstrip the costs of fixing the problem, one person wrote asking for hard numbers. How do we know for certain which is more expensive? Maybe it will be cheaper to abandon ship, so to speak: move everyone (and everything) out of flood-prone areas and forget about reducing emissions.

Fair enough, I suppose. It would be interesting to see someone crunch those numbers. Plus, whether we reduce our emissions or not, we'll likely need to undertake some expense for "adaptation" -- the costs of managing the climate impacts that are already unavoidable.

More precisely though, it's a fair enough question only for those of us who don't have our livelihoods and heritage bound up in the Northwest's rivers and lowlands. Not everyone really has the option of leaving. Consider the tribes.

If the Northwest's rivers and fish are markers of your basic identity, not to mention your income, you may see climate impacts (and climate adaptation) in a somewhat different light. Toward that end, floods over the past few years can be instructive for understanding how climate change may severely damage Indian well-being."

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Tribes and Climate Adaptation (Sightline Daily 1/12)