Vol. 39 No. 1 (2023): Remembering Alan Drengson

Engaging with Nature in Times of Rapid Environmental Change: Vulnerability, Sentience, and Autonomy

black and white drawing of Mount Rainier with evergreen trees in foreground; citation: Gus diZerega, Rainier from Sunrise Side, Washington, 1994, India ink on paper, artist's personal collection, Taos, New Mexico.

Published 2024-01-24

How to Cite

Heyd, T. (2024). Engaging with Nature in Times of Rapid Environmental Change: Vulnerability, Sentience, and Autonomy. The Trumpeter, 39(1). Retrieved from https://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/index.php/trumpet/article/view/1818


Increasingly rapid environmental changes since the middle of the 20th century pose a significant challenge for vulnerable human populations. North American Native people from the Northwest Coast, as many other indigenous populations around the globe, have conceived landscapes as sentient, and capable of responding to human action. The consequent “social responsibility” taken for landscape is explored in the context of vulnerability to rapid environmental change. The basis for respect that underlies this sense of responsibility, and its significance for addressing human vulnerability to nature’s agency, through more adequate practices of mitigation and adaptation, is discussed. It is concluded that we face an imperative to reconceive the agency of natural phenomena.



  1. Works Cited
  2. Adger, W. Neil, Irene Lorenzoni and Karen O'Brien, eds. 2009. Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values and Governance. Cambridge Cambridge University Press.
  3. Adger, Neil, and Nick Brooks. 2002. “Does Global Environmental Change Cause Vulnerability to Natural Disaster?” In Natural Disaster and Development in a Globalizing World, edited by M. Pelling, 19-42. London: Routledge.
  4. Ahmed, Ahsan Uddin, M. Alam and A. Atiq Rahman. 1999. “Adaptation to Climate Change in Bangladesh: Future Outlook”. In Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change for Bangladesh, edited by S. Z. Karim Huq, M Asaduzzaman, and F. Mahtab, 125-43. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
  5. Blaikie, P., T. Cannon, I. Davis,and B. Wisner. 1994. At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s
  6. Vulnerability, and Disasters. London: Routledge.
  7. Bolin, I. 2009. “The glaciers of the Andes are Melting: Indigenous and Anthropological Knowledge Merge in Restoring Water Resources.” In Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions edited by S. Crate, M. Nuttall, 228–239. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  8. Brody, H. 2001. The Other Side of Eden, Hunters, Farmers, and the Shaping of the
  9. World. New York, North Point Press.
  10. Brooks, Nick. 2007. Personal correspondence, 24 July.
  11. Burroughs, William James. 2005. Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos. New York, Cambridge University Press.
  12. Chase, Michael. 2007. Personal correspondence, 22 July.
  13. Climate Proofing: A Risk-Based Approach to Adaptation. 2005. Manila: Asian Development Bank.
  14. Cruikshank, Julie. 2001. “Glaciers and Climate Change: Perspectives from Oral Tradition.” Arctic 54, no. 4, December 2001: 377–93.
  15. ———. 2002. “Nature and Culture in the Field: Two Centuries of Stories from Lituya Bay, Alaska.” In Knowledge and Society (Research in Science and Technology Studies: Knowledge and Technology Transfer), edited by Marianne de Laet, vol. 13 : 11-43. Amsterdam: JAI/Elsevier Science.
  16. Dauncey, Guy. 2001. Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change. Gabriola Island, B.C., Canada: New Society Publishers.
  17. Davies, Hugh. 2002. “Tsunamis and the Coastal Communities of Papua New Guinea.” In Natural Disasters and Cultural Change, edited by Robin Torrence and John Grattan, 28-32. London, Routledge.
  18. Diamond, Jared. 2005. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York. Viking.
  19. Fagan, Brian. 2000. Floods, Famine, and Emperors: El Niño and the Fate of Civilization, New York: Basic Books.
  20. Flood, S., Y. Jerez Columbie, M. Le Tissier, B. O’Dwyer, eds. 2022. Creating Resilient Futures: Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change Adaptation Agendas. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan/Springer Nature.
  21. Gouvernement du Québec. 2012. Plan d’action 2013-2020 sur les changements climatique. http://www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca/changements/plan_action/pacc2020.pdf (accessed 9 October 2013).
  22. ———. 2020. Plan for a Green Economy. https://www.quebec.ca/en/government/policies-orientations/plan-green-economy (accessed 8 June 2023).
  23. Government of British Columbia. Climate Action Plan. 2008
  24. http://www.livesmartbc.ca/attachments/climateaction_plan_web.pdf (accessed 9 October 2013).
  25. ———. 2021. Roadmap to 2030. https://ww2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/climate-change/action/cleanbc/cleanbc_roadmap_2030.pdf (accessed 8 June 2023).
  26. Heyd, Thomas, Ed. 2005. Recognizing the Autonomy of Nature: Theory and Practice. New York: Columbia University Press.
  27. ———. 2007. Encountering Nature: Toward an Environmental Culture. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate.
  28. ———. 2013. “Landmarks of the Sacred in Times of Climate Change: Climate Justice, Icons, and Policy.” In Studies in Religion and the Environment/Studien zur Religion und Umwelt, edited by S. Bergmann. Münster-Hamburg-Berlin: LIT Publishing.
  29. ———. 2018. “Engaging with Nature in Times of Rapid Environmental Change: Vulnerability, Sentience and Autonomy”. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 77: 27-40.
  30. Holland, John. 1998. Emergence. From Chaos to Order. New York: Basic Books.
  31. Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. 2000. The Ingenuity Gap. New York: Knopf.
  32. ———. 2005. “Adaptive Capacity and Resilience: How to Meet Challenges from Climate Change”. In Introduction to Climate Change: Impacts & Adaptation. C-CIARN (Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network) Conference. London, Ontario, 1 June 2005.
  33. ———. 2006. The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization. Toronto: A.A. Knopf.
  34. IPCC. 2013. Fifth IPPC Assessment Report. http://www.ipcc.ch/ (accessed 6 October 2013).
  35. Jamieson, Dale. 2015. “Responsibility and Climate Change.” Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric 8, no. 2. https://www.theglobaljusticenetwork.org/index.php/gjn
  36. Jickling, Bob. Ed. 1996. “What is a Good Way to Teach Children and Young Adults to Respect the Land? A Panel Discussion”. In A Colloquium on Environment, Ethics, and Education: Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, July 14-16, 1995 (proceedings), 32-48. Arts and Science Division, Yukon College, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.
  37. Kant, Immanuel. 1993. Grounding of the Metaphysics of Morals, translated by James W. Ellington. Indianapolis: Hackett.
  38. Kaufmann, Stuart A. 1995. At Home in the Universe. The Search for the Laws of the Self- Organization and Complexity. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  39. Kaufmann, Stuart A. 2000. Investigations. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  40. Kelly, P.M. and W.N. Adger. 2000. “Theory and Practice in Assessing Vulnerability to Climate Change and Facilitating Adaptation”. Climatic Change. 47: 325-352.
  41. Ingold, T. 1994. “Introduction to Culture”. In Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Humanity, Culture and Social Life, edited by Tim Ingold Routledge.
  42. Latour, Bruno. 1987. Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
  43. ———. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  44. Leroy, Susanne. 2006. “From Natural Hazard to Environmental Catastrophe: Past and Present”. Quaternary International 158, no.1. (December): 4-12.
  45. Lowe, D.J., R. M. Newnham, and J. D. McCraw. 2002. “Volcanism and Early Maori Society in New Zealand”. In Natural Disasters and Cultural Change, edited by Robin Torrence and John Grattan, 126-61. London and New York: Routledge.
  46. Maturana, Humberto and Francisco Varela. 1973/1980. “Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living.” In Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science vol. 42, edited by Robert S. Cohen and Marx W. Wartofsky. Dordecht: D. Reidel Publishing.
  47. Mortimore, M. and W. M. Adams. 2001. “Farmer Adaptation, Change and 'Crisis' in the Sahel”. Global Environmental Change 11, no. 1: 49–57.
  48. O’Brien, Karen L. 2012. “Global Environmental Change II: From Adaptation to Deliberate Transformation.” Progress in Human Geography 36, no. 5: 667-676. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132511425767. Accessed 31 January 2023.
  49. Orlove, Brian. 2005. “Human Adaption to Climate Change: A Review of Three Historical Cases and Some General Perspectives.” Environmental Science and Policy 8: 589–600.
  50. Plumwood, Val. 2009. “Nature in the Active Voice.” Australian Humanities Review 46. http://australianhumanitiesreview.org/2009/05/01/nature-in-the-active-voice/. (accessed 25 February 2023)
  51. Prigogine, Ilya and Isabella Stengers. 1984. Order Out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature. Toronto: Bantam.
  52. Serres, Michel. 1990. Le Contrat naturel. Paris: François Bourin.
  53. ———. 1995. The Natural Contract, translated by Elizabeth Macarthur and William Paulson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  54. Sheppard, S.R.J. 2012. Visualizing Climate Change: A Guide to Visual Communication of Climate Change and Developing Local Solutions. Abingdon, UK: Earthscan/Routledge.
  55. Smit, Barry. 2005. “Where From and Where to: Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research and Practice”. In Introduction to Climate Change: Impacts & Adaptation
  56. session. C-CIARN (Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network)
  57. Conference. London, Ontario. 1 June 2005.
  58. Sulyandziga, Pavel, and Tatiana Vlassova. 2001. “Impacts of Climate Change on the Sustainable Development of Traditional Lifestyles of the Indigenous People of the Russian North: Towards the Development of an Integrated Scheme of Assessment”. Northern Review 24 (Winter): 200–07.
  59. Woods, Mark. 2005. Personal communication.