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Warming threatens lifestyle of Russian herders

For a thousand years, the Nenet have herded their domesticated reindeer to summer pastures above the Arctic Circle.  But warming temperatures are threatening their traditional way of life.

Ahead of the global climate talks in December 2009, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of the carbon culture.

The 435-mile-long Yamal Peninsula in Russia's Siberia is one of the world's last great wildernesses and home to the nomadic Nenet tribes.

For centuries, the Nenet have herded their domesticated reindeer to summer pastures above the Arctic Circle. But now, the Nenet’s traditional way of life is threatened by warming temperatures. Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
Nenet families live on the tundra in reindeer-skin tents.

Until recently, the Nenets crossed the frozen Ob River in November to set up camps farther south. But the pilgrimage is now usually delayed until late December when the river ice is thick enough to cross. Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
Firewood is gathered for a Nenet campsite. The peninsula is 1,250 miles northeast of Moscow, and the Nenets migrate north to south more than 100 miles every year, spending only a few days in one place, living off reindeer and fish. Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
A Nenet herder prepares to lasso a reindeer. The Nenet culture relies on reindeer for food and clothing. Herds have been impacted, however, by the changing climate. The delay of the annual migration south means less fresh pasture for the herds to feed on before spring.

While gaps in climate science exist, leading some to question the degree of mankind’s impact as well as whether anything should be done, most governments as well as the science academies of the U.S. and other industrial nations agree that mankind is a significant factor and that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced. Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
The Nenets travel with herds of domesticated reindeer, using lassos when it's time to slaughter one.

For more information on this project go to Consequences by NOOR Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
A Nenet family shares raw reindeer with pasta. A typical family slaughters a reindeer every couple of weeks. Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
This Nenet, Vasilyi Ivanovich, is the elder of his tribe. Some 42,000 Nenets live along the peninsula. Once a majority, they are now outnumbered by natural gas industry workers.

Share your thoughts about these slideshows and climate change. Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
The Yamal Peninsula stretches deep into the Arctic Ocean. In the language of the Nenet, Yamal means “world’s end.” Like much of the Arctic, Yamal has been locked in permafrost, land that was thought to be in deep freeze. But the permafrost is thawing in places, and if the thaw goes deep and last long enough, the land will release methane, a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide. Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR
Mobile phones, albeit sometimes hard to use, have become part of the Nenet network. The peninsula contains huge natural gas reserves. It's already home to Russia's largest natural gas field, and more drilling is planned. Most gas is exported to Europe.

Environmentalists fear that the drilling could ruin the peninsula's delicate Arctic ecology. Gazprom, Russia's state energy giant, is building a new pipeline, a railway line and several bridges.

For more information on this project go to Consequences by NOOR Yuri Kozyrev / Consequences by NOOR