Change Alley

information, opinion, conversation

Where Do We Go From Here?

with 2 comments

Photo: ‘Kivalina Sunrise’ by Vision Aerie

An island in a moonlit sea. A thin sliver of sand 6 miles long, under pressure from rising seas and erosion. A place with no future, named in an IPCC report as an example of the costs of relocating coastal communities. An indigenous community of 400 who desperately want to leave but who can’t afford to even if they had somewhere to go. Where is this? Somewhere in the Pacific? The Carterets, perhaps, or Tuvalu.

Wrong. This is America. Kivalina Island, Alaska, 85 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is disappearing and has perhaps 15 years left to live. One option is a stronger sea wall, made of rock rather than sandbags. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates it would cost $33 million to protect the southern tip of the island. At the other end of the scale, relocating to a new purpose-built settlement on higher ground inland would cost at least $155 million, or about $387,000 a person. Some have suggested just giving the inhabitants the money and letting them loose, but this idea hasn’t generated much enthusiasm.

No-one seems to be prepared to take responsibility. The locals see a big storm as their only salvation. “If Kivalina floods or something really bad happens, then they’ll move us,” says the pastor. “That’s the only time we’ll get money.”

Welcome to the United States.

Los Angeles Times


Written by Pete Smith

November 26, 2007 at 4:29 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Excellent find this article Pete.

    New Zealand has ongoing issues with folk leaving various Pacific islands for the same reasons. I believe the NZ govt has been receptive to their moving to NZ thus far.


    November 26, 2007 at 4:56 pm

  2. No way! Those people choose to live there … are they mad!?

    Didn’t see the photo yesterday Pete due to technical problems with your post but, now I can visualize their plight I seriously have no sympathy.


    November 27, 2007 at 6:53 am

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