Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jacqueline Head, "FOCUS: RACE FOR THE ARCTIC The Arctic fight for survival," al Jazeera, May 27, 2009.

As countries scramble to stake their claim to resource-rich land in the Arctic, the native people of the region are left with an uncertain future. Drilling for oil and gas will not only disturb the indigenous way of life - it could, along with climate change, potentially destroy it.

Al Jazeera spoke to two indigenous people from Arctic communities, with two very different ideas on how to tackle the coming change.

High up in Alaska, on the tip of an island north of the Arctic Circle, lies a small town called Kivalina. The inhabitants of this settlement are slowly moving away, as the ice surrounding their island melts into the Chukchi Sea.

Enoch Adams, 49, an Inupiat Eskimo from Kivalina, is one of a group of residents taking legal action against dozens of oil, electricity and coal companies over their contribution to global warming, which is destroying their home.

The average temperature on the island has risen at least three degrees Farenheit over the past 50 years, and residents believe this has led to shorter winters and longer summers, not to mention thinning ice around the island.

Kivalina lies on the tip of an island between the Chukchi Sea and a lagoon [OXDOX]
Inupiat Eskimos on Kivalina fear their island will sink into the Chukchi Sea [OXDOX]

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[This will be an interesting court case to follow. In the Arrow Lakes and the Tennessee Valley, loss of your village was the price of "progress" and the cost of doing business, a negative externality. We might call it collateral damage. This has turned out to be typical of industrial development, whether managed by capitalists, communists, or some other faction. In exceptional cases, a party may move to mitigate the consequences, but there are always consequences and the project always goes ahead. The people lined up with their bodies and their chequebooks to pay the price cannot stop it, have little, if anything, to say about it. Has anything changed? Are we any better? Or are we just getting used to free lunch and the stench of the garbage? -jlt]Recommend this Post

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