A Small World: How A Group of Finns Creates Changes In Global Indigenous Communities

Evan McCauley, Spencer McClellan, Parshon Sorornejad, Joshua Woodruff

Professor San Martin

Topics in Environmental History

Gaworecki, Mike. “Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Science.” Mongabay Newscast, news.mongabay.com/2018/06/audio-the-dialogue-between-science-and-indigenous-knowledge/

The author of this episode of Mongabay Newscast, Mike Gaworecki, is a New York based journalist who works as a staff writer and editor at Mongabay. Gaworecki’s work has appeared in notable publications such as The Guardian and Pacific Standard magazine, and he has covered environmental and climate issues for over a decade. The podcast largely focuses on the work of Tero Mustonen regarding environmental studies. Tero Mustonen works for the Snowchange Cooperative, Finland, and he is also is an adjunct professor at the University of Eastern Finland in the department of Geographical and Historical Studies. Snowchange Cooperative is a Finnish non-profit organization that works with local and Indigenous communities across the world.

The Mongabay Newscast is a podcast funded by Mongabay, an organization founded in 1999 by Rhett A. Butler. Butler founded Mongabay based on his passion for tropical forests. Today, the organization is the leading center for news and information on the world’s rainforests, as well as analysis on progress and possibilities. Over the years, the site has encouraged the free expression of all things environmental, and has even sparked protests and other movements in places like Madagascar.  Mongabay draws millions of readers monthly, and publishes in nine languages. It is often sourced my mainstream outlets like The Economist, Bloomberg, National Geographic, and the Associated Press.

It is not very applicable to discuss the argument in this podcast as the podcast is not in fact arguing anything. The podcast consists of an interviewer and interviewee, with the format of question and response. The questions are however, not phrased to frame an argument but rather to allow the interviewee to describe a variety of separate initiatives of Snowchange Cooperative. While the dialogue shows what the Snowchange Cooperative does, there is no cohesive point that it serves to support. It does seem to as a whole show a general support for working with indigenous populations by giving anecdotes of this cooperation but does not direct it in any meaningful way.

Overall, the podcast focuses on the work that has been completed by Mustonen and the Snowchange Cooperative, making the claims direct and likely factual. So, the statements and presentation of information in the production is based directly on research and studies that already exist. In this way, the podcast is full of solid evidence, but the use of this information is where it loses strength on its own. Gaworecki and Mustonen produce no information of their own, and the conversation that is held is merely a recap of work that has already been done. It does not present new ideas or concepts, and does nothing to add to a discussion about its main topic.

When listening to this podcast compared to the articles read in class, it is clear that it focuses more on how different communities can work together to fight climate change. The articles focus more on different case studies about how a certain group affects the area. In the podcast, Mustonen addresses the problem of gender inequality. His group tries to get remote camps to switch over from diesel fuel to solar panels and renewable energy. He puts the women in charge of the solar panels by teaching them about the technology, “so there’s a set of gender equality and forward looking, #metoo style element here,” (Mustonen). He can be considered a bilateral activist because he is working together with two very different communities, the people of indigenous communities and the United Nations to try and make change.

The podcast works to bring awareness to the work being done by the Snowchange Cooperative, making its message one of progress. In this sense, it inspires the continuation of research and communication. It brings up further questions of the ways that science can both benefit and harm the lives of indigenous peoples, and how research must still be conducted to foster that relationship and ensure mutual benefit. Finally, it reinforces the need for bilateral activism in environmental issues to better communicate the problems of all sides.

Works Cited

“About Mongabay.” Environmental News, www.mongabay.com/about/.

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