Using the reductionist model of scientific ways of knowing—research and observation—alone is in adequate in the study of ecology and in particular climate change. Ecosystems and climates are established over centuries, however, scientific data recording these events and cycles dates back only 50 or sixty years in some locations. Few, if any, regions in the world have more than 100 years of data with which to analyze the health of an ecosystem or the patterns of a climate.
Also problematic with this approach to the study of the land, is the objective removal of the human being. The reductionist model has the scientist standing back and watching as independent and dependent variables interact. It is as if the human is not part of this ecosystem. Limited, but recent and scary data suggest that assumptions that the vastness of the earth could never be affected by the human are coming to be challenged as climates and ecosystems are changing rapidly. The idea that the human is separate from the land is being questioned by modern science, but modern science lacks a model that incorporates the human as an agent and member of these ecosystems, but there is no time to sit around and think of one.
Aboriginal traditional knowledge can help scientists understand better the changes happening in various regions of the world because traditional knowledge reaches so far back into the memory of indigenous groups. The collective memory of indigenous groups provides a more holistic understanding of the intricacies and relationships that exist between species and systems. The most important part of the traditional knowledge approach to understanding the environment is that the human being is placed as an active member of the system. This role is important for people to recognize their power over the environment but more importantly, their responsibility.
My research will focus on analyzing how indigenous groups use the internet to promote a holistic approach to understanding ecosystems and climate change. My hope is that I will see scientists and other aboriginal groups borrowing from each other as we attempt to understand and rectify, or live with, the changes that our planet is undergoing.