Updates‎ > ‎

2015-08-09. Will these Alaska villagers be America's first climate change refugees?

posted Aug 10, 2015, 11:44 AM by Alan Gould
Science Friday, National Public Radio. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: [hear recording of interview] In 2008, the Inupiat village sued 24 of the world's biggest fossil fuel companies for damages. In 2013, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and the village has declared it will not file a new claim in state court. Meanwhile, nature, heedless of humankind’s eternal squabbles, goes about its business: the sea around Kivalina continues to rise, the storms get stronger, the ice gets thinner — and Kivalina's 400 residents must grapple with how to relocate in the decade they're estimated to have left. Kivalina is on a very thin barrier reef island between the Chukchi Sea and the Kivalina Lagoon, in the northwest of Alaska, above the Arctic Circle.  ...In May, June and July, the men of the village go out on the ice hunting bearded seals. They cut up the seals, dry them and store them for the winter. “That provides the winter supply,” Swan says. “That’s what keeps us warm in the Arctic.” About 15 years ago, the villagers noticed the season started two weeks early and the ice began to thin sooner than before. ...The village originally voted to relocate as far back as 1992, but it is massively expensive. ...Disaster management policies are designed to deal with the aftermath of a disaster, she says. A disaster declaration releases funding aimed at helping a community rebuild or relocate within the place the disaster occurred. But there are no policies in place to relocate an entire community, like Kivalina, prior to an actual disaster.... http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-09/will-residents-kivalina-alaska-be-first-climate-change-refugees-us