Climate change could influence the traditions passed down in Pacific island cultures

ceremonial mealSince Pacific islanders have lived near the ocean and coral reefs for centuries, many traditions passed down from generation to generation are connected to coral reefs and the ocean. Creation stories, songs, and knowledge the elders have gained about harvesting and replenishing the reef resources are shared with young folks in the community.

As climate change alters the environment, interactions with the ocean and corals will also change. These changes may make it more difficult to pass down traditional knowledge. Imagine communities with fewer fish and fewer fishermen. Sharing knowledge of where and when to look for fish would become challenging and practicing traditional fishing methods would be more difficult. Other everyday activities could be changed as well. The species used in ceremonies and traditional meals may not adapt to climate change. They may not be available in the future.

If climate change, through rising sea level, increased water temperatures, and ocean acidification destroys the coral reef habitat fish and other organisms depend on to survive, then centuries of knowledge may be lost as a result.

For more on climate change and culture explore these sites:
Natural History Guide to American Samoa
Kumulipo (Hawaiian creation story)
Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources