Bearing Witness: Voices of Climate Change

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths.

KNAU/Ryan Heinsius

This week, we're airing a series of interviews called Bearing Witness: Voices of Climate Change. They're stories told by longtime Arizonans about changes they've seen in the familiar landscapes of their lives. While personal experience, in and of itself, is not scientific conclusion, many researchers believe long-term observation is a critical component to understanding how climate change affects humanity and the planet. Those changes are altering the way Native American tribes conduct ceremonies. Some of the plants harvested for these rituals aren't growing at the same time of year as they have historically, and that's upending ceremonial calendars. Nikki Cooley is a member of the Navajo Nation and is co-manager of the Tribes and Climate Change Program at Northern Arizona University. She advises Indigenous communities across the country on how to adapt to a changing climate. 

Gary Nabhan

This week, we're airing a series of interviews called Bearing Witness: Voices of Climate Change. They're stories told by longtime Arizonans about changes they've seen in the familiar landscapes of their lives. While personal experience, in and of itself, is not scientific conclusion, many researchers believe long-term observation is a critical component to understanding how climate change affects humanity and the planet. Today's interview is with teacher, author and ecologist, Gary Nabhan. He is the founding director of Northern Arizona University's Center for SUstainable Environments, and currently teaches at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Nabhan is also a farmer of indigenous foods in the desert of Patagonia, Arizona. A pioneer of local food and heirloom seed movements, he connects food supply to culture, ecology and poverty. Nabhan is now documenting stories of 'climate refugees': the most marginalized people affected by climate change. 

KNAU/Ryan Heinsius

This week we're running a series of interviews called Bearing Witness: Voices of Climate Change. They're stories told by longtime Arizonans about changes they've seen in the familiar landscapes of their lives. While personal experience, in and of itself, is not scientific conclusion, many researchers believe long-term observation is a critical component to understanding how climage change affects humanity and the planet. Today, we hear from artist Shonto Begay, who paints unique landscapes of his home on the Navajo Nation. He says climate and weather patterns there used to be well-defined. But now, watering holes once brimming with rain are filled with sand, and Begay says he can no longer smell storms coming. His art reflects the changing climate of his beloved home. 

KNAU/Zac Ziegler

This week, we're running a series of interviews called Bearing Witness: Voices of Climate Change. They're stories told by longtime Arizonans about changes they've seen in the familiar landscapes of their lives. While personal experience, in and of itself, is not scientific conclusion, many researchers believe long-term observation is a critical component to understanding how climate change affects humanity and the planet. Doug Von Gausig is the fourth-term Mayor of Clarkdale and has spent much of his life in Yavapai County. He is also the head of the Verde River Institute, a group dedicated to ensuring the health of one of the largest perennial streams in Arizona. From the banks of the Verde, Von Gausig talks about the river he grew up with. 

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