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Blue Ecology / Michael Blackstock

ORAL HISTORY EXTENDS THE PERIOD OF RECORD AND UNDERSTANDING: “Michael Blackstock observed that the individuals most receptive to Blue Ecology were the ‘hydrology elders’ when he presented at the International Association of Hydrological Sciences Conference. I am not surprised. hydrology elders understand the limitations and assumptions inherent in how scientific knowledge is applied. They are not dazzled by a slick software interface,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (February 2022)


“If Thomas Bayes (1702-1761) was alive today, I have no doubt that he would say, oral history extends the period of period and our understanding of what the data mean. One of his most memorable quotable quotes is that, probability is orderly opinion (and) inference from data is nothing other than the revision of such opinion in the light of relevant new information. Four decades ago, UBC Professor Emeritus Denis Russell developed a methodology to show how Bayesian statistics offers a framework for combining different kinds of information and making best use of what is available,” stated Kim Stephens.

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BLUE ECOLOGY IS THE PATHWAY TO REACH WATER RECONCILIATION: “It costs you nothing to change your attitude. A new collaborative knowledge attitude will open up new worlds of possibility. The Blue Ecology vision is collaborative, not competitive,” stated Michael Blackstock, Independent Indigenous Scholar (January 2022)


“Our children’s children will be faced with daunting, complex, and urgent environmental problems. The impending crisis requires us to begin to lay a foundation for our children’s children to have a starting point, and some options to grasp in the urgent moment. We owe them hope,” stated Michael Blackstock. “Now is the time to act on the belief that if we interweave our strengths as traditional knowledge keepers, scientists, poets, artists, and architects in a collaborative manner, we can make a difference.”

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “It is clear in my mind that traditional knowledge and western science are in alignment. They are just different ways of communicating. In fact, I believe there is an analogy between Indigenous oral history, and a statistical approach called Bayesian analysis. This is a way of processing anecdotal information,” stated Neil Goeller, Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy (January 2022)


“It seems obvious that oral history provides context. Oral history interweaved with science would provide more than just the 100 odd years of rigorous data collection we have. It would turn it into thousands of years of knowledge,” stated Neil Goeller. In BC, hydrometric records are fairly limited in time and geographic coverage. From a hydrology perspective, then, interweaving science and a rich oral history would turn a comparatively short period of data collection into thousands of years of knowledge. This might profoundly change how we view extreme changes in the water cycle and the consequences in BC.

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CONTEXT FOR BLUE ECOLOGY AND WATER RECONCILIATION: “Over the last several years, our team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers have been exploring what this word (reconciliation) means to people in Canada. In doing so, we have come to understand that our relationship to the natural world is an important, yet often overlooked, part of furthering reconciliation,” wrote University of Manitoba researchers Aleah Fontaine and Katherine Starzyk in an article published by The Conversation (August 2021)


“Considering traditional Indigenous perspectives and social psychological research, we wanted to understand whether people’s support for reconciliation was related to their attitudes toward nature and other animals. And if this was the case, why? At the core of our project is the idea that moral expansiveness, or the breadth of entities a person feels moral concern for, is important for motivating support for reconciliation. Our results showed that people who felt more connected to nature also supported reconciliation more,” stated Aleah Fontaine.

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A VISION FOR WATER RECONCILIATION: “The methodology for Blue Ecology is about the actual work of interweaving the strengths of two cultures to reconcile them. It is time for First Nations to take a seat at environmental policy tables, as respected knowledge keepers who understand and respect water. Indigenous teachings can improve Western science,” stated Michael Blackstock, Indigenous Independent Scholar and creator of Blue Ecology


Blue Ecology is an idea whose time has come. Long recognized by UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, Blue Ecology is defined as the interweaving of Western science and traditional First Nations teaching and local knowledge. “My work related to water and reconciliation has put the spotlight on a new angle,” stated Michael Blackstock. “Is reconciliation just dealing with the past and acknowledging the pain and moving on, or is it something more complex than that? The complexity is that if we are asking folks to change their attitude towards water, what does that mean?”

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INTERWEAVING WESTERN SCIENCE AND INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE: “The moon needs to be added to the hydrologic cycle! Fixing this flaw would make Western science even better by using the expertise that Indigenous people have in their science,” stated Michael Blackstock, Indigenous Independent Scholar and creator of Blue Ecology, when connecting dots to Brian McNoldy’s correlation of lunar cycles and coastal flooding


“Exceptionally high tides are common when the moon is closest to the Earth. But something else is going on with the way the moon orbits the Earth that people should be aware of. It’s called the lunar nodal cycle, and it’s presently hiding a looming risk that can’t be ignored. Once we reach the bottom of the cycle around 2025 and start the upward phase, the lunar nodal cycle begins to contribute more and more to the perceived rate of sea level rise,” stated Brian McNoldy.

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HYDRATING LANDSCAPES TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE: “Interweaving is a collaborative process where apparently contradictory ways of knowing water, such as Western Science and Indigenous Knowledge, are brought together as co-existing threads to produce a new cooperative theory called Blue Ecology,” stated Michael Blackstock in his panel presentation at the virtual Living Soils Symposium hosted by Regeneration Canada (February 2021)


“Blue Ecology has five guiding principles and aligns with the whole-system, water balance approach. Adoption of the principles – Spirit, Harmony, Respect, Unity and Balance – would move Blue Ecology from theory to practice, as an aid for water managers. To make the right choices moving forward, we must understand how and where the rhythms of water are changing. Then we can apply ecosystem-based understanding to adapt our practices to suit a changing climate,” explained Michael Blackstock.

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FIRE WEATHER SEVERITY: ‘Abnormally dry’ conditions across Pacific Northwest could spell long wildfire season for British Columbia (May 2019)


“The signs of climate change are all around us. Earth mother’s lifeblood (i.e. water) is becoming sparse in the Pacific Northwest, and some Indigenous Elders say this is happening because humans are not showing respect to water,” said Michael Blackstock. “Water withdraws itself from the disrespectful. Water is transforming from ice, to sea and river water, and then to traversing atmospheric rivers. Water was sleeping as ice, but now it is moving rapidly and unpredictably around our planet. Some places are deluged, while others lay tongue-parched.”

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“In October, 2018, faculty engaged in water research from a broad range of disciplines across the UBC Okanagan campus welcomed Michael Blackstock to share his theory of Blue Ecology and interweaving Indigenous and western science,” reports Marni Turek


“It is interesting to hear the journey from which Michael’s ideas on water leadership evolved, starting with asking what he refers to as a deceptively simple question, “What is water?”. Seeking out opportunities to enrich thinking and learning around water values is important and the Water Research Network is very appreciative for Michael sharing his truly inspirational views and message of hope for a new attitude… one that embraces a water-first approach,” stated Marni Turek.

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“Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, on the current crisis of climate change. A new culture of water is needed in order for humans to adapt,” wrote Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science


“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing. Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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