Nov. 8, 2020

Ep 1: Climate language and meaning in the search for 'blue ice'

Ep 1: Climate language and meaning in the search for 'blue ice'

Have you ever found yourself lost for words? Maybe it's because there are no words — at least in the languages you speak. In this episode we look at research from the northern boreal forests in Ontario, Canada with the Cree, Ojibwe and Ojicree indigenous peoples. The study aimed to better understand the indigenous perspectives of framing climate change adaptation. Interestingly, these indigenous languages have no equivalent word for 'adaptation'. Sadly, the word itself had negative meanings for the indigenous peoples. For them, "adapt" meant having to suffer and survive through colonial oppression. In this story, the term blue ice shows us how even our most basic assumptions about climate language—such as 'climate adaptation'—can have myriad meanings and throws into question all the climate vernacular we may feel so comfortable using.

'Blue Ice'

  • The concept of blue ice, both as a phenomenon and a term, is central to the language and culture of the indegenous peoples of this area. 
  • Blue ice refers to a specific environmental condition and seasonal reference to the time of year when hard blue ice forms before snowfall. 
  • The formation of Blue ice is essential to the economy of culture of the people of this area and its disappearance signifies in both a practical and symbolic way that there is something seriously wrong with the climate.

Recorded 10 August 2020

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