ArticlePublisher preview available
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract and Figures

Local communities’ dependence on the environment for their livelihood has guided the development of indicators of local weather and climate variability. These indicators are encoded in different forms of oral knowledge. We explore whether people recognize and perceive as accurate one type of such forms of oral knowledge, climate-related proverbs. We conducted research in the Alta Alpujarra Occidental, Sierra Nevada, Spain. We collected locally recognized proverbs and classified them according to whether they referred to the climatic, the physical, or the biological system. We then conducted questionnaires (n = 97) to assess informant’s ability to recognize a selection of 30 locally relevant proverbs and their perception of the accuracy of the proverb. Climate-related proverbs are abundant and relatively well recognized even though informants consider that many proverbs are not accurate nowadays. Although proverbs’ perceived accuracy varied across informant’s age, level of schooling, and area of residence, overall proverb’s lack of reported accuracy goes in line with climate change trends documented by scientists working in the area. While our findings are limited to a handful of proverbs, they suggest that the identification of mismatches and discrepancies between people’s reports of proverb (lack of) accuracy and scientific assessments could be used to guide future research on climate change impacts.
This content is subject to copyright. Terms and conditions apply.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Using proverbs to study local perceptions of climate change: a case
study in Sierra Nevada (Spain)
María Garteizgogeascoa
1
&David García-del-Amo
1
&Victoria Reyes-García
1,2
Received: 21 May 2019 /Accepted: 14 April 2020
#Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020
Abstract
Local communitiesdependence on the environment for their livelihood has guided the development of indicators of local
weather and climate variability. These indicators are encoded in different forms of oral knowledge. We explore whether people
recognize and perceive as accurate one type of such forms of oral knowledge, climate-related proverbs. We conducted research in
the Alta Alpujarra Occidental, Sierra Nevada, Spain. We collected locally recognized proverbs and classified them according to
whether they referred to the climatic, the physical, or the biological system. We then conducted questionnaires (n= 97) to assess
informants ability to recognize a selection of 30 locally relevant proverbs and their perception of the accuracy of the proverb.
Climate-related proverbs are abundant and relatively well recognized even though informants consider that many proverbs are
not accurate nowadays. Although proverbsperceived accuracy varied across informants age, level of schooling, and area of
residence, overall proverbs lack of reported accuracy goes in line with climate change trends documented by scientists working
in the area. While our findings are limited to a handful of proverbs, they suggest that the identification of mismatches and
discrepancies between peoples reports of proverb (lack of) accuracy and scientific assessments could be used to guide future
research on climate change impacts.
Keywords Andalucía (Spain) .Climate change impacts .Ethnoclimatology .Indigenous and local knowledge .Proverbs
Introduction
In their quest to better understand local climate change im-
pacts, both natural and social scientists are challenged by the
scarcity of grounded data. This has resulted in climate scien-
tists calling for the exploration of new data sources
(Rosenzweig and Neofotis 2013). Within this context, several
authors have argued that local ecological knowledge has an
untapped potential to contribute to further our understanding
of local climate change impacts (Barnes et al. 2013;Savoetal.
2016). Researchers have documented many instances in
which Indigenous peoples or local communities with a long
history of interaction with the environment have developed
complex knowledge systems that allow them to detect chang-
es in local weather and climatic variability, as well as the
impacts of such changes in the physical and the biological
systems on which they depend (e.g., Orlove et al. 2000;
Fernández-Llamazares et al. 2015; Reyes-García et al.
2016). Through observations of their immediate environment
accumulated over generations and continuously adapted to
environmental and other changes, local populations have de-
veloped a large body of ethnoclimatological knowledge, de-
fined as the comprehensive system of insights, experiences,
and practices regarding climate and local weather events, as
well as their changes at different spatiotemporal scales
(Reyes-García et al. 2018).
Communicated by Chinwe Ifejika Speranza
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-020-01646-1) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
*María Garteizgogeascoa
garteizg@uni-bremen.de
*Victoria Reyes-García
Victoria.reyes@uab.cat
David García-del-Amo
David.Garcia.DelAmo@uab.cat
1
Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma
de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
2
Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA),
08010 Barcelona, Spain
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-020-01646-1
/ Published online: 10 May 2020
Regional Environmental Change (2020) 20: 59
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... For example, several studies depict their activities as simply gathering data points, for example, proverbs (e.g. Garteizgogeascoa et al., 2020), humananimal interactions (e.g. Melovski et al., 2020), or local species names (e.g. ...
... Buell et al., 2020;Hall et al., 2021;Hastings et al., 2020;Schott et al., 2020;Sidorova, 2020), but other parts of the sample are not (e.g. Brackhane et al., 2019;Caballero-Serrano et al., 2019;Ferreira-Rodríguez et al., 2021;Florko et al., 2020;Garteizgogeascoa et al., 2020;Hosen et al., 2020;Irigoyen et al., 2021;Jewell et al., 2020;Khan et al., 2020;Ludwinsky et al., 2020;Patankar et al., 2020;Sinthumule and Mashau, 2020;Uchida and Kamura, 2020;Zhang et al., 2020). As others have noted, environmental scientists and locals may in fact have divergent priorities for a given environment (Chua et al., 2020; see also Berkes, 2018: 259-264). ...
Article
Full-text available
Culture and tradition have long been the domains of social science, particularly social/cultural anthropology and various forms of heritage studies. However, many environmental scientists whose research addresses environmental management, conservation, and restoration are also interested in traditional ecological knowledge, indigenous and local knowledge, and local environmental knowledge (hereafter TEK), not least because policymakers and international institutions promote the incorporation of TEK in environmental work. In this article, we examine TEK usage in peer-reviewed articles by environmental scientists published in 2020. This snapshot of environmental science scholarship includes both critical discussions of how to incorporate TEK in research and management and efforts to do so for various scholarly and applied purposes. Drawing on anthropological discussions of culture, we identify two related patterns within this literature: a tendency toward essentialism and a tendency to minimize power relationships. We argue that scientists whose work reflects these trends might productively engage with knowledge from the scientific fields that study culture and tradition. We suggest productive complicity as a reflexive mode of partnering, and a set of questions that facilitate natural scientists adopting this approach: What and/or who is this TEK for? Who and what will benefit from this TEK deployment? How is compensation/credit shared? Does this work give back and/or forward to all those involved?
... We did not include avian cultural symbolism, totems, power or dream-animals, or descriptions of how people use bird calls to communicate with other people, as noted in many accounts of hunting and warfare. These are important ethnoecologically: myths, stories, sayings, and songs often encode significant ecological information about a bird's life history, appearance, behavior, or relationships (Ibarra et al. 2013;Garteizgogeascoa et al. 2020) but are beyond the scope of the present study. Nevertheless, we recognize that cultural context is important in making particular birds more conspicuous and significant to people (Agnihotri and Si 2012:209) and there are likely to be entangled relations between broader cultural contexts and the sign aspects of birds. ...
Article
Full-text available
The ways people think, feel, speak about, and act in and with environments are inextricably intertwined with the well-being of other living things, including birds. We report on the kinds of messages contained in 598 examples of locally-defined signs from 498 bird taxa from 169 sources and 123 ethnolinguistic groups. Using Peirce’s three sign forms: symbolic, iconic and indexical, we analyze one aspect of human–bird interactions: that of reading bird sign for ecological and social interpretations. Understanding ecological semiotic nuance is important for translating between local, regional, and global science, and for respecting autonomous processes of local people attributing value or lack thereof to birds and their habitats. Over one-third of the signs in our sample (216; 36%) were specifically described as omens of some kind, commonly of death, illness, or something “bad”. Three modes of message delivery account for the majority of the data: predicting (60%), bringing (15%; including news, rain, luck), and indicating (15%; including seasonal change, fruit ripening, animals). Reading birds to predict weather (especially rain) was common, as was listening to and interpreting birds’ alarm calls warning of snakes or predators, and knowing that a certain bird indicates the presence of certain other animals, or of a water source. We collected 51 examples of warblish, the imitation or translation of bird sounds into non-onomatopoeic words. We argue for the amplification of ecocultural conservation (attending to histories of human–nonhuman relationships in place) to channel resources and land control to local and Indigenous managers who are immersed in relevant bird–people information networks. We discuss the importance of (1) reduction of uncertainty in local and hyper-local environments, (2) biocultural provocations in which birds fulfill important roles in human society, and (3) informational connectivity and locally-defined interspecies ethical relationships as key elements for inclusive and effective ecocultural bird conservation.
... Indigenous and local knowledge and practices are important components of climate-related local planning and response to cyclic events and natural disasters (Fletcher et al., 2013;Charan et al., 2017;Plotz et al., 2017). Through generations, Indigenous peoples and local communities living in close relation with nature have accumulated very precise knowledge on celestial, meteorological and ecological phenomena (e.g., Orlove et al. 2000;Garteizgogeascoa et al. 2020). This knowledge has allowed them to anticipate weather conditions and seasonal events and to accordingly adapt their livelihood activities (Acharya, 2011;Turner & Singh, 2011;Reyes-García et al., 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
As an Indigenous community of Algeria and the broader Sahel, the Tuareg hold unique ecological knowledge, which might contribute to broader models of place-based climate change impacts. Between January and April 2019, we carried out semi-structured interviews (N=23) and focus group discussions (N=3) in five villages of the province of Illizi, Algeria, to document the local Tuareg community’s timeline and ecological calendar, both of which are instruments used to understand place-based reports of climate change impacts. The livelihoods of the Tuareg of Illizi are finely tuned to climate variability as reflected in changes reported in the cadence of events in their ecological calendar (marked by cyclical climatic and religious events). Participants reported rain and temperature irregularities and severe drought events, which have impacted their pastoral and semi-pastoral livelihoods. These reports are aligned with scientifically-measured climate observations and predictions. Paradoxically, although participants recall with detail the climatic disasters that happened in the region over the last century, the Tuareg do not explicitly report decadal trends in the frequency of extreme events. The differential perception of climate change impacts across scales can have important implications for undertaking climate change adaptation measures.
... Studying ecolexicon (ecology-related lexicon) in proverbs means studying language environment covering both physical and social environments (Sapir, 2001). From the aspect of the physical environment, the choice of ecolexicon in proverbs is influenced by the local geography, such as the local topography (Zulyeno, 2019), the local flora and fauna (Krikmann, 2001;Lin, 2013), and the local climate (Leite et al., 2019;Garteizgogeascoa et al., 2020). Meanwhile, from the aspect of social environment, the meaning of ecolexicon used in proverbs is influenced by the local social environment that builds up its people's way of thinking, including religion (Ukoma et al., 2020; Babalola & Alu, 2019), ethics (Tarigan et al., 2020), organization, and art (Tarigan, 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
One of the consequences of the close interrelationship between languages and their respective environments is the influence of the environment on the creation and maintenance of proverbs. Many proverbs use ecology-related lexemes (vocabulary from the "ecolexicon") to make their point. Previous studies were concerned with the general classification of ecolexical items used in proverbs. Such studies have neglected to study the use of bamboo in explorations of the flora-related ecolexicon, and this gap is especially notable when it comes to the study of proverbs. In response, this paper aims at (i) formulating the function-based typology of the bamboo-related ecolexicon used in Karonese proverbs; and (ii) finding out the cultural values of bamboo-related ecolexical items used in Karonese proverbs. This study was conducted using a descriptive qualitative method, taking Kabanjahe, the capital of Karo Regency, North Sumatra Province, Indonesia, as the research location. The data were bamboo-related ecolexical items used in Karonese proverbs, collected from five informants through an unstructured, open-ended interview. The data were analyzed qualitatively using an interactive model of data analysis. The findings promote research on the typology of bamboo-related ecolexical items based on how Karonese people utilize bamboo. The characteristics of bamboo-related ecolexical data also metaphorize the real-life setting in Karonese culture, contributing to the formation of several cultural values that have been passed down from generation to generation.
... Local knowledge systems have also proved of value in understanding climate change impacts. For example, in Sierra Nevada, Spain, proverbs encode local climatological knowledge, denoting indicators of local weather and climate variability, but research shows that in modern times many proverbs have lost their pertinence or predictive accuracy (Garteizgogeascoa et al., 2020). Community members note this loss as a signal of a disruption of the natural order, leaving them frustrated and uncertain about how to respond and more ready to accept proposed technological innovations proposed. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Human cultural diversity is reflected in many different ways of knowing, being, and doing, each with specific histories, positionalities, and connections to ecosystems, landscapes, and the world. Such diversity results in plural knowledge systems. This white paper describes the characteristics and complexity of knowledge systems in the context of climate change. It notes the deficiencies of action to date on climate change, which has largely rested on scientific knowledge, and discusses the importance of drawing on other knowledge systems, particularly Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge. This paper synthesises evidence highlighting that Indigenous knowledge systems and local knowledge systems are dynamic, contemporary, and actively applied worldwide. Although Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge systems continue to be politically marginalised, the recognition of their role in climate governance is essential. We consider plural knowledge systems and the interactions and potential collaborations between them, with a goal of informing how they can most constructively, equitably, and inclusively be conceptualised and addressed when discussing and generating knowledge about and responses to climate change.
... Human beings have been observing weather phenomena and climate change for a long time. On this basis, a large number of proverbs have been summed up and empirical analysis of weather has been done [16]. The second method is the numerical method. ...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, the global temperature is continuously rising and has the trend of accelerating. The frequent occurrence of extremely high temperatures and heat waves has caused widespread concern from all walks of life. How to fully understand the change law of temperature becomes very important. In view of the temperature change in Xi’an, this paper introduces a new method called visibility graph to establish the temperature network in Xi’an. On this basis, firstly, this paper studies the relationship between temperature fluctuation and network degree. We find that short-term fluctuations do not cause long-term effects. Then, through the study of network degree distribution, it is revealed that the temperature network conforms to the law of power-law distribution. In addition, this paper also completes the community detection of temperature network, and finds that some communities have fewer nodes (between June and August), which means that the correlation between summer temperature and other seasons in Xi’an is low, and it is easy to form extreme weather. To sum up, the research in this paper provides a new theoretical method and research ideas for mining and mastering the variation law of temperature in Xi’an.
Article
Confronted with the complex environmental crises of the Anthropocene, scientists have moved towards an interdisciplinary approach to address challenges that are both social and ecological. Several arenas are now calling for co-production of new transdisciplinary knowledge by combining Indigenous knowledge and science. This book revisits epistemological debates on the notion of co-production and assesses the relevant methods, principles and values that enable communities to co-produce. It explores the factors that determine how indigenous-scientific knowledge can be rooted in equity, mutual respect and shared benefits. Resilience through Knowledge Co-Production includes several collective papers co-authored by Indigenous experts and scientists, with case studies involving Indigenous communities from the Arctic, Pacific islands, the Amazon, the Sahel and high altitude areas. Offering guidance to indigenous peoples, scientists, decision-makers and NGOs, this book moves towards a decolonised co-production of knowledge that unites indigenous knowledge and science to address global environmental crises.
Chapter
Confronted with the complex environmental crises of the Anthropocene, scientists have moved towards an interdisciplinary approach to address challenges that are both social and ecological. Several arenas are now calling for co-production of new transdisciplinary knowledge by combining Indigenous knowledge and science. This book revisits epistemological debates on the notion of co-production and assesses the relevant methods, principles and values that enable communities to co-produce. It explores the factors that determine how indigenous-scientific knowledge can be rooted in equity, mutual respect and shared benefits. Resilience through Knowledge Co-Production includes several collective papers co-authored by Indigenous experts and scientists, with case studies involving Indigenous communities from the Arctic, Pacific islands, the Amazon, the Sahel and high altitude areas. Offering guidance to indigenous peoples, scientists, decision-makers and NGOs, this book moves towards a decolonised co-production of knowledge that unites indigenous knowledge and science to address global environmental crises.
Article
Full-text available
Indigenous and subsistence-oriented people are particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change. Strategies to cope and adapt to those changes may rely on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), which can play an important role for understanding global environmental change at the local level. We aim to provide insights regarding perceptions of climate change, traditional ecological knowledge, and the coping strategies forest-dependent Indigenous people in the Amazon adopt when faced with climate change impacts. The outcomes are based on a mixed set of methods: comprising semi-structured interviews, meteorological data, and photovoice in a case study approach of 49 households of the Indigenous Territory TCO Tacana I in lowland Bolivia. Data were collected in 2013 and 2015; meanwhile, the study area was hit by a severe extreme weather precipitation event and resulting flood in 2014. The results demonstrate that Tacana's perception of weather trends and those of Western science-trained specialists complement each other because they provide different sets of details. The study revealed 38 traditional weather-related short-term indicators that underline the close interaction of Tacana with the environment. However, their current reliability has been questioned, indicating a need for further observation and research for potential long-term environmental change. Photovoice outcomes suggest that most of the negative effects during the extreme weather event were reported on natural capital in subsistence farming households. Indigenous households relied more on strong bonding and networking social capital (intracommunal and external), less on other capitals to cope with the flood event. Acknowledging TEK insights and changing local ecological indicators contributes information to assist sustainable ecosystem management and build corresponding resilient social systems. Local knowledge can support the understanding of climate and environmental change and local and regional risk management planning, interventions, and policy recommendations. This can considerably enhance the effectiveness and robustness of such strategies while counteracting the loss of traditional ecological knowledge.
Article
Full-text available
We aimed at identifying which drivers control the spatio-temporal variability of fruit production in three major European temperate deciduous tree species: Quercus robur, Quercus petraea and Fagus sylvatica. We analysed the relations of fruit production with airborne pollen, carbon and water resources and meteorological data in 48 French forests over 14 years (1994–2007). In oak, acorn production was mainly related to temperature conditions during the pollen emission period, supporting the pollen synchrony hypothesis. In beech, a temperature signal over the two previous years eclipsed the airborne pollen load. Fruit production in Quercus and Fagus was related to climate drivers, carbon inputs and airborne pollen through strongly nonlinear, genus-specific relations. Quercus and Fagus also differed as regards the secondary growth versus fructification trade-off. While negative relationships were observed between secondary growth and fruit production in beech, more productive years benefited to both secondary growth and reproductive effort in oak.
Article
Full-text available
Monitoring and evaluation are central to ensuring that innovative, multi-scale, and interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability are effective. The development of relevant indicators for local sustainable management outcomes, and the ability to link these to broader national and international policy targets, are key challenges for resource managers, policymakers, and scientists. Sets of indicators that capture both ecological and social-cultural factors, and the feedbacks between them, can underpin cross-scale linkages that help bridge local and global scale initiatives to increase resilience of both humans and ecosystems. Here we argue that biocultural approaches, in combination with methods for synthesizing across evidence from multiple sources, are critical to developing metrics that facilitate linkages across scales and dimensions. Biocultural approaches explicitly start with and build on local cultural perspectives - encompassing values, knowledges, and needs - and recognize feedbacks between ecosystems and human well-being. Adoption of these approaches can encourage exchange between local and global actors, and facilitate identification of crucial problems and solutions that are missing from many regional and international framings of sustainability. Resource managers, scientists, and policymakers need to be thoughtful about not only what kinds of indicators are measured, but also how indicators are designed, implemented, measured, and ultimately combined to evaluate resource use and well-being. We conclude by providing suggestions for translating between local and global indicator efforts.
Article
Full-text available
This paper focused on the early warning signs of climate variation as indicated by the Borana community of Isiolo County, Kenya. The objective of the study was to determine the indigenous early warning signs used by the Borana to predict the onset of rainfall, floods and droughts and their efficacy. The study was guided by cultural ecological theory, and data was collected through secondary sources, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and direct observation. The findings revealed that the Borana had many indigenous early warning signs to predict different weather changes. These included the behaviour of animals and birds, presence of insects, clouds, the colour of the intestines of slaughtered domestic animals, interpreting dreams, flowering of plants and the pattern of stars. The study also indicated that the indigenous early warning signs have been reliable since time immemorial; however, the increasing severity and frequency of drought over the last decade has rendered indigenous forecasting less reliable than it has been in the past. Early warning of weather changes is very important as it helps the community to apply the most appropriate coping strategy when faced with certain natural calamities. This study recommends a combination of the existing indigenous early warning indicators with modern forecasting methods, to make them more appropriate.
Article
Previous research has studied the association between ethnoclimatological knowledge and decision-making in agriculture and pastoral activities but has paid scant attention to how ethnoclimatological knowledge might affect hunting and gathering, an important economic activity for many rural populations. The work presented here tests whether people who can forecast temperature and rain display higher hunting and gathering returns (measured as kilograms per hour for hunting and cash equivalent for gathering). Data were collected among three indigenous, small-scale, subsistence-based societies largely dependent on hunting and gathering for their livelihoods: the Tsimane' (Amazonia, n 5 107), the Baka (Congo basin, n 5 164), and the Punan Tubu (Borneo, n 5 103). The ability to forecast rainfall and temperature varied from one society to another, but the average consistency between people's 1-day rainfall and temperature forecasts and instrumental measurements was low. This study found a statistically significant positive association between consistency in forecasting rain and the probability that a person engaged in hunting. Conversely, neither consistency in forecasting rain nor consistency in forecasting temperature were associated in a statistically significant way with actual returns to hunting or gathering activities. The authors discuss methodological limitations of the approach, suggesting improvements for future work. This study concludes that, other than methodological issues, the lack ofstrong associations might be partly explained by the fact that an important characteristic of local knowledge systems, including ethno-climatological knowledge, is that they are widely socialized and shared.
Article
The study of climate change has been based strongly on data collected from instruments, but how local people perceive such changes remains poorly quantified. We conducted a meta-analysis of climatic changes observed by subsistence-oriented communities. Our review of 10,660 observations from 2,230 localities in 137 countries shows that increases in temperature and changes in seasonality and rainfall patterns are widespread (≈70% of localities across 122 countries). Observations of increased temperature show patterns consistent with simulated trends in surface air temperature taken from the ensemble average of CMIP5 models, for the period 1955-2005. Secondary impacts of climatic changes on both wild and domesticated plants and animals are extensive and threaten the food security of subsistence-oriented communities. Collectively, our results suggest that climate change is having profound disruptive effects at local levels and that local observations can make an important contribution to understanding the pervasiveness of climate change on ecosystems and societies.
Article
Local knowledge has been proposed as a place‐based tool to ground‐truth climate models and to narrow their geographic sensitivity. To assess the potential role of local knowledge in our quest to understand better climate change and its impacts, we first need to critically review the strengths and weaknesses of local knowledge of climate change and the potential complementarity with scientific knowledge. With this aim, we conducted a systematic, quantitative meta‐analysis of published peer‐reviewed documents reporting local indicators of climate change (including both local observations of climate change and observed impacts on the biophysical and the social systems). Overall, primary data on the topic are not abundant, the methodological development is incipient, and the geographical extent is unbalanced. On the 98 case studies documented, we recorded the mention of 746 local indicators of climate change, mostly corresponding to local observations of climate change (40%), but also to observed impacts on the physical (23%), the biological (19%), and the socioeconomic (18%) systems. Our results suggest that, even if local observations of climate change are the most frequently reported type of change, the rich and fine‐grained knowledge in relation to impacts on biophysical systems could provide more original contributions to our understanding of climate change at local scale.