It is already difficult to find Kivalina on a map, but soon it may be impossible. Not only does the Alaskan village only cover 1.9 square miles of land and is home to less than 400 residents, but it is disappearing. Fast. As one of the most apparent and shocking examples of coastal erosion, Kivalina could be uninhabitable by 2025 -- all thanks to climate change.
|In this photo taken in Sept. 2005 and provided by Millie Hawley, Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo village is seen in on a barrier island off the coast of northwest Alaska.|
|The dump, airport and village are located on the narrow strip of land. (Photo by Bob Hallinen)|
Although the U.S. Corp of Army Engineers built a defensive wall to protect Kivalina, it is little more than a temporary fix. Moving villagers to higher land would cost the government $400 million, an amount they have yet to offer.
However, the residents of Kivalina refused to give up their home without a fight. They sued 24 of the world's largest oil companies, including BP, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, for the aforementioned cost of moving. The lawsuit claimed that the defendants led the public astray in regards to the effects of climate change, and were involved in a conspiracy to mislead. The villagers lost both their original suit in 2010 and a 2012 appeal.
Kivalina is not the only Alaskan village coming face-to-face with the harsh realities of climate change. According to the EPA, Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the national average in the last 50 years. In fact, 12 towns voted to move to new locations as a result of climate change, a practice Ars Technica calls “climigration.”
|Waves are shown pounding against the sandbagged seawall in Kivalina, Alaska (AP Photo/Mary Sage, file)|