Climate and health pose big risks to Arctic natives

Native populations in far-northern climates face growing health risks, particularly in the face of a rapidly warming climate and efforts to extract natural resources from their homelands.

That is the conclusion of a research review, drawn primarily from epidemiological studies of indigenous populations, that covers five geographically defined regions—Alaska in the United States, northern Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Finland), and northern Russia.

Of approximately 10 million natives who live in these Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, the Sami of Scandinavia are the healthiest, but their indigenous neighbors across northern Russia show “extremely poor health indicators and marked disparities compared with Russia as a whole.”

The burden of disease risks in these areas, he says, differs from anywhere else on the planet, especially given moderately high levels of infectious and parasitic diseases, mental health issues, and substance abuse problems coupled with the growing prevalence of chronic disease.

Indigenous populations covered in the review were: the Inuit and Aleut in Alaska; Inuit and Dene in northern Canada; the Inuit in Greenland; the Sami in Scandinavia; and the Evenki, Khanti, Mansi and Yakut in northern Russia. Many of these, Snodgrass says, are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of global climate change and the risks will only accelerate by rapid and intense economic development, much of it centered on the extraction of resources, including oil and minerals.

Indigenous populations covered in the review

Source | Futurity