Adaptation and Sustainability in a Small Arctic Community: Results of an Agent-Based Simulation Model
Climate warming and resource development could alter key Arctic ecosystem functions that support fish and wildlife resources harvested by local indigenous communities. A different set of global forces—government policies and tourism markets—increasingly directs local cash economies that communities use to support subsistence activities. Agent-based computational models (ABMs) contribute to an integrated assessment of community sustainability by simulating how people interact with each other and adapt to changing economic and environmental conditions. Relying on research and local knowledge to provide rules and parameters for individual and collective decision making, our ABM generates hypothetical social histories as adaptations to scenario-driven changes in environmental and economic conditions. The model generates projections for wage employment, cash income, subsistence harvests, and demographic change over four decades based on a set of user-defined scenarios for climate change, subsistence resources, development, and government spending. Model outcomes assess how scenarios associated with economic and climate change might affect the local economy, resource harvests, and the well-being of residents for the Western Arctic Canadian community of Old Crow, Yukon. The economic and demographic outcomes suggest implications for less quantifiable social and cultural changes. The model can serve as a discussion tool for a fuller exploration of community sustainability and adaptation issues.