cover image Kivalina: A Climate Change Story

Kivalina: A Climate Change Story

Christine Shearer. Haymarket, $16 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-60846-128-8

Shearer, a journalist and academic educated in sociology, tells a moving, infuriating, ominous story of a remote Alaskan Native community's struggle to relocate its village, Kivalina, which is being lost to flooding and erosion due to climate change%E2%80%93induced melting permafrost and retreating sea ice. Kivalina's residents originally moved to this narrow island in the early 20th century, when the U.S. government ordered them to settle permanently on the island or face imprisonment. The villagers, who "are able to survive in the harsh Arctic region through an understanding of and close connection to the cycles and rhythms of the land," first noticed erosion of the island in the 1950s, voted to relocate in 1992, and chose a new site by 1998. Their attempts to relocate were frustrated by U.S. agencies who contradicted their knowledge of the area, so the community filed a climate change lawsuit. Shearer provides an impressively concise and comprehensive history of the growth of corporate power in America; its influence on, entwinement with, and corruption of government; corporate obfuscation of industrial hazards, culminating in the fossil fuel industry's frighteningly successful campaign to prevent regulatory action on increasingly confirmed global warming; and the cultural disconnect between Native Alaskans and American agencies whose clumsy, often patronizing management of Kivalina's dire situation has only exacerbated the community's problem. (Aug.)