As 2014 comes to a close, some of the biggest stories of 2015 are taking shape. One of them is the continuing evolution of climate change and the circumstances of Indigenous Peoples affected by it. An comprehensive article on Huffington Post has chronicled the erosion over the past several decades of Shishmaref, a 563-population Native Alaskan village that’s 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
The Inupiaq people who live there have been steadily moving their homes back from the edge of the sea and building barriers, Huffington Post reports, but the sea has just as inexorably continued to encroach. And that’s not all. The very land that their houses sit on is composed of melting permafrost. In July 2002 the residents opted to completely move their town, but “12 years later, they’re still here,” notes author Kate Sheppard in the extensive piece.
Shishmaref has received federal help with infrastructure, but what they really need is a new location—which is being studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Based on a comparison of aerial photos, the Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the island is losing between 2.7 and 8.9 feet a year, on average,” Sheppard writes. “But measurements in years with big storms have documented land loss of up to 22.6 feet.”
There is no turning away from reality in this article, which covers it all: the unemployment, the eating away of ancestral land, the storm bombardment. And therein is a lesson for us all, as the subhead alone lays out: “As The Planet Warms, A Remote Alaskan Town Shows Just How Unprepared We Are.”
Read Climate Change Takes A Village on Huffington Post.