In 2008, the Inupiat village of Kivalina, Alaska sued 24 fossil fuel companies for the destruction of its homeland, a seven-mile barrier island on Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. The cause of the destruction, the village contended, was climate change. Without thick winter sea ice to buffer Kivalina from storms, surges have ripped through the island’s seawalls and taken out as much as 70 feet of coastline at a time. The village lost its federal court case in 2013, and this week announced it would not re-file in state court. Meanwhile, scientists estimate the island will be underwater by 2025.
Kivalina City Council Member Colleen Swan describes the changes that villagers have witnessed, as well as her community’s prospective plans to relocate. Kivalina: A Climate Change Story author Christine Shearer discusses the legacy of Kivalina’s legal case.
Plus, check out photographer Suzanne Tennant’s photo essay from Kivalina.
Produced by Annie Minoff, SciArts Producer