The documentary team of Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele featured the Swinomish Tribe in a video on the Facing Climate Change website.

Facing Climate Change: Coastal Tribes from Benjamin Drummond / Sara Steele on Vimeo.

The Swinomish Tribe has lived on the coasts of the Salish Sea for thousands of years. Today, rising seas not only threaten cultural traditions, but also the economic vitality of this small island nation in the shadow of two oil refineries.

After scientists identified sea level rise as a threat to the Lower Skagit River area, the tribe launched a climate change initiative to study the long-term impacts of climate change on their reservation, and to develop an action plan to adapt. Impacts of sea level rise on the island, including coastal erosion, habitat loss, and declining water quality, raised central concerns. The study presented the Swinomish with a difficult question: whether to plan for inches or feet of rise?

Planning must embrace a range of possibilities. Important factors used to calculate global sea level rise, such as melt rates of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, vary widely. In addition, regional estimates must include local factors such as wind patterns and tectonic activity.

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