Friday, May 17, 2013

"America's First Climate Refugees"

"Like many if not most native Alaskan villages, Newtok owes its location to a distant bureaucrat. The Yup'iks, who had lived in these parts of Alaska for hundreds of years, had traditionally used the area around present-day Newtok as a seasonal stopping-off place, convenient for late summer berry picking.

"Even then, their preferred encampment, when they passed through the area, was a cluster of sod houses called Kayalavik, some miles further up river. But over the years, the authorities began pushing native Alaskans to settle in fixed locations and to send their children to school.

"It was difficult for supply barges to manoeuvre as far up river as Kayalavik. After 1959, when Alaska became a state, the new authorities ordered villagers to move to a more convenient docking point."
From a three part series published in the Guardian on Newtok, Alaska, including video. 

 NPR reported Friday that
A new study confirms that the vast majority of scientists who research the climate accept that the planet is warming and human beings are largely responsible. Yet a large slice of the American public believes that scientists are deeply split about global warming.

Meanwhile the Koch brothers and others do their best to convince federal and state legislators that climate change is a hoax.   History will record them among the evil doers of our generation for their willful ignorance and misinformation which has contributed to delaying humankind's efforts to ward off the worst effects of climate change.  But history's judgment offers little solace to the tens, more likely hundreds, of millions who will be most severely impacted by climate change.  Newtok is only one of the more obvious direct effects of climate change already disrupting people's lives.  

Where will, for example, the people of Miami and Manhattan flee when the water rises more?  Sandy, I'm afraid, was just the beginning. 

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