What You Don’t Know: Alaskan villagers struggling during current climate change

Written by Ryan Guerrero, Staff Writer

Not only are these people losing their homes, 80 percent do not have working toilets and schools are becoming overcrowded.

Many of us are caught up in today’s society paying close attention to dim-witted events such as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the VMA’s, and the daily lives of the Kardashian’s.

Yet while all these events are going on blowing up your television and internet feed, we are overlooking crucial events that are making a negative impact on our fellow American citizens across the country.

Are these mainstream entertainment events being used as a distraction? I think not. However, it’s crucial to know what you don’t know and perhaps we as a society can make a contribution in “making American great again” (sorry not sorry for taking your slogan Trump).

In today’s “What You Don’t Know” article, I bring forward a crucial event occurring as of late in the small Alaskan town of Kivalina.

The small town is made up of 403 residents 83 miles above the Arctic Circle, however temperatures are rising causing ice to melt and beaches to disappear.

I first came across this the other day on the L.A. Times twitter account and thought it’d be worth mentioning as the climate change in Kivalina is negatively affecting the town and new homes can no longer be build.

How would you feel if Whittier was an island above the Arctic and you knew your home wouldn’t last for the next ten years or so?

How would you feel if the place you have called home all of your life is slowly dissolving each day?

Yes, most can say relocation is the best option, however no financial support has been invested into the residents living in Kivalina leading me to question why our country spends billions of dollars on military expenses and sending food and clothing items to other countries, yet cannot afford to help a small town in one of it’s own states.

Not only are these people losing their homes, 80 percent do not have working toilets and schools are becoming overcrowded.

It is to my knowledge that Obama does indeed have intentions on addressing climate change while he still remains in office, however there is no guarantee an affirmative action will be completed.

While Obama does have plans to visit the city of Kotzebue, less than 100 miles away, what’s to say that he will do something for the people of Kivalina and all the residents who live among the cities above the Arctic Circle.

Many of us like to poke fun at global warming and underestimate climate change, however when you learn about the impact it can have on an island such as Kivalina it makes one change their perspective on the issue of climate change.

Think of it this way, California is in a bad drought and while we may not think much of it at the current moment and continue to ignore the initiatives we should be taking; we could eventually be negatively impacted in a similar manner that Kivalina is currently undergoing.

As ice continues melting, the town fears for the worst.

Ice is what protects the town from becoming destroyed by the ocean during fierce storms and as climate change eats away the ice the island is extremely vulnerable causing residents to become impatient.

“We are American citizens,” said Millie Hawley, Kivalina tribal president, in the L.A. Times article about the climate change in Kivalina.

“We have as much right as all of America to have access to the resources Washington provides. … If you are going to provide millions of dollars to stop hunger in Africa, my people are hungry. Stop hunger here.”

Weigh in your opinions and how this makes you feel.

*Writers Note*

This is the first installment of my new Opinion column, “What You Don’t Know”. All information and research was gathered from the LA. Times article, “This is climate change: Alaskan villagers struggle as island is chewed up by the sea” by Maria L. La Ganga.