Climate study linking early Maori fires to Antarctic changes sparks controversy

Photograph: Krys Bailey/Alamy Stock Photo

Deep in the ice of a remote Antarctic peninsula, a group of researchers found evidence that fires started by early Māori wreaked changes in the atmosphere detectable 7,000km away. In New Zealand, the research sparked a heated controversy of its own – over Indigenous inclusion in scientific enterprise, and what scientists owe the people whose history becomes a subject of their research.

The research, published this month, examined ice cores from the Antarctic peninsula. Scientists found high concentrations of black carbon, dating back 700 years. Atmospheric modelling narrowed the possible sources to New Zealand, Patagonia or Tasmania – but only in New Zealand did charcoal records match the timeframe. The deposits coincided with Māori arrival in New Zealand, and showed downstream effects of Māori using fire to clear the land.

The finding was unexpected, says Prof Joe McConnell of the Desert Research Institute, who led the study. “What really surprised us about this was that it appeared to be human activities that made such a big impact,” McConnell says. “It really emphasises how interconnected the planet is – that even early people arriving in New Zealand could have a noticeable effect on atmospheric chemistry 7,000km away is really quite a surprising finding.”

Related: Pygmy pipehorse discovered in New Zealand given Māori name in ‘world first’

New Zealand doesn’t have a natural cycle of burning, and its plants are less fire adapted, McConnell said. “So when humans brought fire to the landscape, it had a pretty dramatic change.”

While the emissions were small compared with many current-day fires, he said, they were notable coming from a small island. “If you compare it to what’s coming out of the Amazon [burning] now, for instance, it’s small by comparison,” McConnell said. “What was surprising to us was that New Zealand’s got a relatively small land area, and the emissions for such a small land area were pretty large.”

Also surprising was how emissions from Māori arrivals compared with subsequent European ones. “The burning emissions from New Zealand were comparable in the 16th century to what they were soon after European arrival in New Zealand,” McConnell says. “So we were surprised – we expected to see more of an impact from European arrival. And we did not.”

The team published the article in Nature, one of the world’s most prominent scientific journals. But the reception in New Zealand was mixed, with several Māori academics raising concerns that it did not have Māori members of its research team.

Dr Priscilla Wehi, director of Te Pūnaha Matatini research centre, said via Science Media Centre the finding was “scientifically spectacular” but raised concerns about “helicopter science, where research is led and conducted by those who live and work far from the subject of their work”.

“How much better could this have been, were it more inclusive in its approach?” she asked.

Associate prof Sandy Morrison of the University of Waikato called the paper “devoid of context, devoid of cultural understandings”. “It reeks of scientific arrogance with its implicit assumption that somehow Māori have a lot to account for in terms of contributing to carbon emissions.”

Morrison told the Guardian she had been shocked by the paper, which did not collaborate with Māori researchers. “Surely you want to check and just examine the context before you go writing around people,” she said.

“You come so far in terms of working alongside scientists in New Zealand and then you get [this] from the international ones.”

Over the past two years, there has been increased discussion and controversy over mātauranga Māori – Indigenous knowledge systems – and their role within the sciences in New Zealand. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which funds much of the country’s scientific research, unveiled Vision Mātauranga about 10 years ago. Its principles would be embedded across all the ministry’s priority investment areas. In practice, that meant crown-funded research had to include partnerships and consultation with Māori, as well as a broader re-orientation to integrate Māori knowledge into research and learning. More recently, changes were proposed to New Zealand’s curriculum to give parity to mātauranga Māori with other bodies of knowledge.

“For a long time Māori had been talking about [the fact] that we will do our own research – and at minimum, that a relationship with us … should be cultivated way before anybody wants to write about us,” Morrison said. “That seems to have caught on in the New Zealand research scene, but not so much internationally.”

The paper’s authors, none of whom were from New Zealand, were taken by surprise at the backlash.

“I was definitely surprised,” McConnell says. “We didn’t start out in any way, shape, or form, to investigate the impact of Māori-related burning and we’re not trying to criticise or in any way, shape, or form Māori stewardship of the land.” No one had disputed the paper’s findings on the black carbon, he said.

“This idea of helicopter science – our research is not based in New Zealand … it’s based in Antarctica, and there are no indigenous inhabitants in Antarctica. So, I don’t think we would have done that any differently,” he said.

“In the scientific world [and] the scientific method, the response would be: if someone disagrees with our findings, they should write a paper and get it through peer review, or comment, and tell us what we did that was wrong … Whoever has the most solid arguments is who moves forward. That’s what the scientific method is all about. But this is not a science debate, I don’t think.”

Dr Dan Hikuroa, senior lecturer at the University of Auckland, said “It’s not that the science is wrong. It’s just that the findings could have been richer.”

“The science looks to be repeatable, rigorous and pretty standup,” he said. “I think it’s the broader context – which much of the science community is now recognising. That although one of the hallmarks and pillars or the strength of science is that it does operate to produce knowledge, it actually operates within a social system.” That awareness, Hikuroa says “is really missed here”.

Related: ‘A neat trick’: critics aim to shift Aotearoa debate, but historical fidelity no longer matters

The integration of mātauranga Māori, he says, can make scientific findings stronger – and increase the diversity of scientific teams. He points to other research, also profiled in Nature, which used mātauranga Māori documentation of groundwater and plant life to document historic groundwater flows to assess the risk of future contamination.

“There’s more than one way of knowing and being and making sense of the world that we could draw from and use when we’re trying to make important decisions – including the way we conduct our research, the kind of teams we build, the kinds of the questions we ask, and the ways we seek to answer those questions,” he says.

“The argument that says, ‘I’m a certain scientist that does things a certain way, so therefore I don’t have to consider these things’ is not holding up as well as it used to.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Best wireless earbuds in Australia: the top Bluetooth buds for 2021

Bluetooth audio has come a long way in recent years, and the popularity of wireless headphones and true wireless earbuds has grown along with it. Improvements to audio quality, affordability, ... Read more »

Poongsan Q3 net profit up 84 pct. to 61.4 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Poongsan Corp. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 61.4 billion won (US$52.5 million), up 84 percent from a year earlier. The company said ... Read more »

PS Plus November 2021 free games: ‘Knockout City' and ‘The Walking Dead' VR are listed in new leak

Photo credit: Yu Hai / Unsplash Sony was once again unable to prevent upcoming free games for PlayStation Plus from getting leaked. A new report claims that next month’s offer will include the ... Read more »

Media Temple review

If you’re looking for a web hosting service which offers unlimited everything for the lowest price, Media Temple is likely to disappoint. The company sells itself on quality, not price, ... Read more »

PlayStation 5 is the first console to integrate Apple Music

Following a rumor of its release a few weeks ago, Sony has today announced that its PlayStation 5 console will be the first to offer an “integrated Apple Music experience”, ... Read more »

(LEAD) Hyundai Mobis Q3 net jumps 37 pct on equity gains

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; REWRITES throughout; ADDS photo) SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Mobis Co., South Korea’s biggest auto parts maker, said Thursday its third-quarter net profit jumped 37 ... Read more »

GitHub claims its AI assistant is helping devs write 30% of their code

GitHub announced its AI-assisted code writing feature called Copilot back in June. On the eve of its GitHub Universe conference starting today, the company said that the AI is now ... Read more »

'Donnie Darko' turns 20: Ten classic films which had completely forgettable sequels

Donnie Darko (Credit: Flower Films) This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series. Released two decades ago in October 2001 in North America, Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko was ... Read more »

Hankook Tire aims to become global top-tier company

Hankook Tire supplies high-performance tires to Porsche’s super-premium Cayenne SUV. / Courtesy of Hankook Tire By Kim Hyun-bin Hankook Tire & Technology is becoming a global top-tier company with its ... Read more »

Hyundai Steel swings to black in Q3 on robust sales

Hyundai Steel’s plant in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province (Hyundai Steel)Hyundai Steel Co., South Korea’s No. 2 steelmaker, said on Thursday it swung to the black in the third quarter from ... Read more »

Boat launches Vertex smartwatch with SpO2 tracker and up to 10 days battery life

Boat has expanded its range of smartwatches in India with the launch of its next-generation Vertex smartwatch. The new device comes with a large 1.69-inch HD screen and is claimed ... Read more »

Garena Free Fire Redeem Codes for October 28, 2021: How to redeem daily codes

Garena Free Fire is an action-adventure battle royal game developed by 111 Dots Studio. The developers of the game upgrade numerous alpha-numeric codes daily. This helps the players get rewards ... Read more »

(LEAD) Hyundai Steel swings to black in Q3 on robust sales

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS more details throughout, photo) SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Steel Co., South Korea’s No. 2 steelmaker, said on Thursday it swung to the black ... Read more »

(2nd LD) Samsung logs record sales, second-highest operating profit in Q3 on buoyant chip biz

(ATTN: CHANGES lead; ADDS more details in paras 8-11, 16-18, photos; TRIMS)By Woo Jae-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. on Thursday reported strong third-quarter earnings on the ... Read more »

Hanwha Solutions Q3 net profit up 2 pct. to 193.4 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hanwha Solutions Corp. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net income of 193.4 billion won (US$165.2 million), up 2 percent from a year earlier. The company ... Read more »

Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Q3 net profit up 119.3 pct. to 35.3 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 35.3 billion won (US$30.2 million), up 119.3 percent from a year earlier. The ... Read more »

Hyundai Mobis Q3 net income up 36.8 pct. to 535.5 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Mobis Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 535.5 billion won (US$457.5 million), up 36.8 percent from a year earlier. The company ... Read more »

How Amazon may survive Apple privacy changes in digital ad business

Amazon.com is expected to emerge as a winner in the digital advertising arena, surviving Apple‘s privacy changes better than rivals Facebook and Snap. The ecommerce giant’s vast trove of customer ... Read more »

Intel launches new PC chips, says US supercomputer will double expected speeds

Intel Corp introduced a new, faster family of processor chips for personal computers and said that the supercomputer it is helping the U.S. government to build will reach double previously ... Read more »

Facebook asks employees to preserve internal documents for legal inquiries

Facebook Inc has told its employees to preserve all internal documents and communications for legal reasons, as governments and regulators have started inquiries into its operation. The increased scrutiny comes ... Read more »

How to watch Star Trek: Prodigy online from anywhere now

This new show from Paramount Plus promises to go where no Star Trek animated series has gone before. Devised for a younger audience, this cinematic adventure series will be the ... Read more »

Digital IC on Singpass app can be used for public services from 1 Nov

Singpass‘ new Digital IC interface. (SCREENSHOT: GovTech) SINGAPORE — Singaporeans who forget to bring their NRIC cards for government services will have an alternative means to prove their identity, with ... Read more »

Hyundai Steel swings to profits in Q3

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Steel Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 595.9 billion won (US$509.1 million), turning from a loss of 44.7 billion won a ... Read more »

Apple will soon tell iPhone users what data is collected by apps

After making a lot of developers squeamish and at the same time giving users more choice about their privacy, Apple is set to bring another feature to iPhone that’s bound ... Read more »

Russian Spacecraft Launches Into Orbit for International Space Station

The Russian space agency Roscosmos successfully launched an uncrewed cargo spacecraft aboard a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station on October 28. Footage released by NASA shows liftoff from ... Read more »

Samsung warns supply chain upsets may hit chip demand, profit at 3-year high

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Thursday it expects component shortages to affect chip demand from some customers in the final three months of the year, after reporting its highest ... Read more »

US consumer watchdog to review Big Tech data, promote lending competition

Chief consumer finance watchdog Rohit Chopra told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday his agency will review Big Tech’s impact on the flow of money in the economy as leading technology firms ... Read more »

Climate change misinformation fools too many people – but there are ways to combat it

Hadrian/Shutterstock In recent decades, people in the UK have watched climate change shift from being an abstract threat discussed on the news to an increasingly common presence in everyday life. ... Read more »

Lotte Chilsung Beverage Q3 net profit up 177.3 pct. to 92.5 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 92.5 billion won (US$78.9 million), up 177.3 percent from a year earlier. Operating ... Read more »

Hyundai Development shifts to black in Q3

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Development Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 43.8 billion won (US$37.4 million), shifting from a loss of 74.9 billion won a ... Read more »

Esports talent in Korea gets boost from big business, easing of gaming ban

People play online games at an internet cafe in Seoul. Korea Times file South Korean teenager Yoon Ki-chan gets just three hours of sleep a day but spends more than ... Read more »

How Microsoft nearly overtakes Apple as most valuable company

A surge in Microsoft Corp’s shares nearly unseated Apple Inc as the world’s most valuable company, a day before the iPhone maker reports its quarterly results. Fueled by strong quarterly ... Read more »

Making machine learning more useful to high-stakes decision makers

A visual analytics tool helps child welfare specialists understand machine learning predictions that can assist them in screening cases. Read more »

Here's how Google aims to take on the Apple iPad

It’s no secret that when it comes to tablets, the iPad remains a few steps ahead of its Android counterparts. And a lot of it is down to the software ... Read more »

'Aadhaar Hackathon 2021' starts today: Theme, rules, prizes and all you need to know

The ‘Aadhaar Hackathon 2021’ consists of problem statements categorized under two broad themes – Address Update and Authentication Reimagined. (Representative image: Reuters) The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has ... Read more »

Amazon app quiz October 28, 2021: Get answers to these five questions to win Rs 20,000 in Amazon Pay balance

Win Rs 20,000 in your Amazon Pay balance today! You just have to answer 5 questions and a bit of luck. Amazon is back with its daily dose of app ... Read more »

Samsung smartphones getting this feature for faster digital payments

Samsung has launched a new Scan QR feature that allows users to make digital payments easily. The feature enables users to make QR code payments by opening the camera or ... Read more »

What to look out for before buying Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs

Intel‘s 12th Gen Alder Lake i9 and i5 CPUs (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA) Well, the cat is out of the bag. Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processors are official and ... Read more »

Naver unveils new AI-powered search service

By Kim Han-joo SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s dominant internet portal operator Naver Corp. on Thursday introduced a new personalized search service dubbed AiR Search. The service, powered ... Read more »

Retail sales up 8.2 pct in September on 'revenge shopping' amid pandemic

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Retail sales in South Korea surged 8.2 percent in September from a year earlier, data showed Thursday, as consumers turned to “revenge shopping” amid the ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic