“After a two-night battle with the Chukchi Sea, the message was clear: the village of Kivalina must be moved. Adapting to our environment was no longer possible. The only option left for the Inupiaq people of Kivalina was to get out of the way and let the impacts of climate change take their toll on the small barrier island.” — Colleen Swan, Kivalina Tribal Administrator
Coastal communities across the globe are serving as climate change’s canaries-in-the-mine. The tiny Alaskan village of Kivalina has been feeling the change for many years now. Sea ice no longer protects Kivalina from savage storms, and more and more of the island falls into the sea.
And, there are other signs of a new world coming. Tribal Administrator Colleen Swan:
“… for decades the people of Kivalina had noticed subtle changes that indicated a warming climate. These included poor ocean ice conditions that changed the way the community hunted on the ocean, and melting permafrost in many areas of Alaska, including the Inupiaq people’s aboriginal territory. Other changes included earlier than normal migration of sea mammals — a main staple of the Inupiaq people’s diet — and unpredictable weather conditions…”
Christine Shearer’s Kivalina: A Climate Change Story tells the Inupiaq’s story — a frustrating tale of environmental injustice, one that government, business (and all of us) have yet to address.
Also pictured above: the stories and photos of Climate Refugees (by the journalists & photographers of Collectif Argos) offers a global perspective on the first populations facing displacement by climate change — communities from Africa and the Himalayas, to the South Pacific and the Gulf Coast of Louisiana.
And here’s two more volumes from the Land Library’s shelves, full of early warnings from the field:
The Big Thaw: Travels in the Melting North by Ed Struzik (“Stuzik’s thoughtful reportage offers readers an arresting portrait of how quickly the northern landscape, including every ecological nook and cranberry bog that humans and other species inhabit, is being transformed.” — Canadian Geographic), and The Earth is Faster Now: Indigenous Observations of Arctic Environmental Change, edited by Igor Krupnik & Dyanna Jolly (an incredibly valuable resource!).
For more on the early signs of climate change, please read our earlier post on one of the most thought-provoking books of the past year:
We are upsetting the atmosphere upon which all life depends. In the late 80s when I began to take climate change seriously, we referred to global warming as a “slowmotion catastrophe” one we expected to kick in perhaps generations later. Instead, the signs of change have accelerated alarmingly. — David Suzuki