A small village in Alaska copes with climate change.
Few places in the world have been as dramatically rocked by climate change as Kivalina. Temperature increases in Alaska double the global average, Arctic sea ice has dissipated by 50 percent since 1979, and a range of tipping points and chain reactions are altering the environment.
“Climate change is one of the greatest threats in Alaskan history,” said Rick Steiner of Oasis Earth, an Anchorage-based environmental advocacy group. “Everything in Alaska is at risk.”
For the people of Kivalina, though, the biggest change is on the ice. What was once reliable is now anything but. A snow-covered hole might open up, causing you and your snowmobile to plunge into icy waters. A fissure could crackle underneath, causing the ice sheet you’re camping on to drift toward Russia. Or there may be no ice at all.
“You can’t go out in this kind of environment unless you really know what you’re doing,” Enoch Adams Jr., a whaling captain and Episcopal preacher, told me. “You might not come home.”