Dealing with climate change and local beliefs in Africa
Studies in Malawi, Zambia highlight that changing beliefs influence how well communities can cope with climate change
(Press-News.org) Experts should take note of local knowledge and beliefs when making plans about how to help people in vulnerable regions cope with the impacts of climate change. This will ensure that such interventions are money well spent, and are not culturally insensitive, advises Conor Murphy of Ireland's Maynooth University. Together with an interdisciplinary research team from universities in Malawi, Zambia and Ireland he interviewed community members in rural Malawi and Zambia to assess how well they are able to adapt to the way they produce food within the context of shifting belief systems and climate change. The findings are published in Springer's journal Climatic Change.
On a global scale, vulnerability to climate change tends to be greatest in parts of the world where religion is most important in daily life. In a vulnerable area such as sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, Christians have increased 70-fold and Muslims 20-fold over the past century. Traditional beliefs and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) rooted within an ancestral spirit-world however continue to influence the day-to-day lives especially of rural communities. Religious beliefs are an important element of culture, but are not always static.
Such shifting belief systems influence how people respond and adapt to important issues such as the challenges relating to climate change. The research team interviewed members of two rural communities in Africa: Bolero in Malawi and Monze in Zambia. Christianity and traditional beliefs co-exist within these communities. The researchers assessed how holding multiple belief systems influences the ability of these communities to produce food and adapt to the impact of changing climates.
In Bolero, a smooth co-existence and integration was observed between traditional and Christian beliefs and practices. Faith-based organizations have helped community members to better understand what causes climate variability in their area. Previously, this was associated with punishment from ancestral spirits.
In Monze, by contrast, tensions were experienced when livelihood decisions were made based on the practice of rain rituals. Traditional practices and worshipping of ancestral spirits were seen as evil by Christian religions. Elders blamed recent failures of rainfall on a lack of adherence to traditional beliefs by younger generations. In both communities, elders were concerned that changing beliefs are affecting the way people use traditional ecological knowledge management practices.
"Culture, when approached through the lens of religious beliefs and practices, plays an important role in adaptive capacity, but is not static," reminds Prof. Olusegun Yerokun of Mulungushi University, co-author of the paper. "The manner by which communities holding multiple belief systems are able to adapt is largely determined by the manner in which belief systems co-exist, and how different knowledge forms are valued, accepted and integrated."
"As climate services become the focus of research and government interventions in vulnerable regions, avoiding culturally and economically expensive mal-adaptation will require giving attention to the complexity and dynamism of such changing religious landscapes," Murphy advises.
Reference: Murphy, C. et al (2015). Adapting to climate change in shifting landscapes of belief, Climatic Change, DOI 10.1007/s10584-015-1498-8
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
A novel radiopharmaceutical probe developed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has the potential of providing physicians with information that could save the lives of patients with ischemic stroke or pulmonary embolism - conditions caused when important blood vessels are blocked by a clot that has traveled from another part of the body. In a report that will appear in the October issue of the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology and has been published online, the MGH team describes using this new probe to conduct full-body scans in an animal model. ...
PITTSBURGH, Sept. 15, 2015 - Nearly 1 in 5 recently surveyed high school seniors report having smoked tobacco from a hookah in the past year, and more than a third of them reported smoking hookahs often enough to be considered regular users, an analysis led by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health (CRMTH) revealed.
The findings, published online and scheduled for a coming print issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, add to evidence that hookah use among adolescents is increasing in both prevalence and frequency. ...
In recent years, there has been an increase in emergence and use of a variety of new drugs, so-called "novel psychoactive substances" (NPS) in the US and worldwide. However, there is little published survey data estimating the prevalence of use in the US. Media reports about use of new drugs such as "Spice" ("synthetic marijuana") and "bath salts" such as "Flakka" are now common, yet very few health surveys ask about use of such drugs.
A new study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence by researchers affiliated with New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV ...
Montreal, September 15, 2015 -- With the federal election around the corner, child care has become a major ballot issue. While every party has its own idea of how best to offset the costs of raising children, no one is looking at how we perceive and value those who provide the education and care.
Concordia researcher Sandra Chang-Kredl wants that to change. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, she writes that "invariably, the focus of the debate is on the children's needs, the parents' needs and society's needs. The educator is rarely ...
DURHAM, N.C. -- Energy companies used nearly 250 billion gallons of water to extract unconventional shale gas and oil from hydraulically fractured wells in the United States between 2005 and 2014, a new Duke University study finds.
During the same period, the fracked wells generated about 210 billion gallons of wastewater.
Large though those numbers seem, the study calculates that the water used in fracking makes up less than 1 percent of total industrial water use nationwide.
While fracking an unconventional shale gas or oil well takes much more water than drilling ...
In what is believed to be the largest, most detailed study of its kind in the United States, scientists at NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere have confirmed that tiny chemical particles in the air we breathe are linked to an overall increase in risk of death.
The researchers say this kind of air pollution involves particles so small they are invisible to the human eye (at less than one ten-thousandth of an inch in diameter, or no more than 2.5 micrometers across).
In a report on the findings, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives online Sept. ...
Fetuses with enlarged ventricles--the fluid-filled cavities inside the brain--may be less likely than other fetuses to benefit from surgery in the womb to treat spina bifida, according to a study co-authored by researchers at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco.
The researchers found that fetuses with enlarged ventricles were more likely to require a second surgery to relieve a life-threatening build-up of pressure within the brain. Given the risks that fetal surgery poses for mother and newborn, the findings indicate that in these cases, it may be better ...
Sydney, Australia -- Creating futuristic, next generation materials called 'metallic glass' that are ultra-strong and ultra-flexible will become easier and cheaper, based on UNSW Australia research that can predict for the first time which combinations of metals will best form these useful materials.
Just like something from science fiction - think of the Liquid-Metal Man robot assassin (T-1000) in the Terminator films - these materials behave more like glass or plastic than metal.
While still being metals, they become as malleable as chewing gum when heated and can ...
BERKELEY -- A new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers establishes for the first time a link between infection with the bovine leukemia virus and human breast cancer.
In the study, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE and available online, researchers analyzed breast tissue from 239 women, comparing samples from women who had breast cancer with women who had no history of the disease for the presence of bovine leukemia virus (BLV). They found that 59 percent of breast cancer samples had evidence of exposure to BLV, as determined by the presence ...
Planning conservation actions requires up-to-date information on
Biodiversity is diminishing at unprecedented rates, and quick decisions are needed in what and where to protect.
"The decisions should be based on comprehensive information, but scientists do not have enough resources to collect more data and effectively monitor all species and habitats that need protection. As human are the main driving force of global change, conservation also needs information on human presence and behaviour" says Enrico Di Minin, a researcher in conservation science at the Department ...
LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES: