May 21, 2013
Teenager Sues Alaska for Failing to Protect His Melting Home
Posted on Mar 16, 2013
An 18-year-old Yup’ik Eskimo who could lose his home to melting tundra is suing the state of Alaska for failing to take action on climate change.
Ice flowing down the Kugkaktlik River in the springtime—a highway that provides access to the nearest towns—is carving away at the bank on which Nelson Kanuk’s home sits because the ground is increasingly soft due to thawing permafrost.
“It’s disappearing,” Kanuk told NPR of the bank. Last spring, the Kanuks lost 8 feet from their yard. “And then, as the summer progressed, we lost another 5 feet,” he said. “Last fall, before I left there was about 40 feet or so. But when springtime comes there’s definitely going to be a couple more feet that will be lost.”
Generations of Kanuk’s tribe have depended for survival on a healthy freezing and thawing cycle. “We actually go out into the tundra, and we harvest salmonberries. We actually go out into the river, and we fish for salmon. And then we go out into the ocean in the springtime, and that’s how we get the seal meat we need to survive in the winter time,” he said.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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