Karen lee Wald
A Phrasebook Guide
NATO's War on Libya
Abbas's New Gambit
Women of Corn
The CIA Returns to Campus
Native Eskimos Fight for Lost Land
Mexico's Indignados Have Had It
The Jobs Crisis
Revolts in Syria
Omar s. Dahl
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Native Eskimos Fight for Land Lost to Climate Change
An interview with Christine Shearer
Christine Shearer is a post-doctoral scholar in science, technology, and society studies at UC Santa Barbara and a researcher for Coal Swarm, part of SourceWatch. She is also managing editor of Conducive Magazine, and author of Kivalina: A Climate Change Story (Haymarket Books), which details the plight of an Alaska Native Eskimo community struggling to save their land that is disappearing as a result of climate change.
Frank: What prompted you to investigate what’s happening in Kivalina?
SHEARER: In 2007, I was part of an interdisciplinary research project at UC Santa Barbara, assessing the biggest “human impacts” to marine ecosystems. To do this we collected data from over 100 scientists. It really started to hit me how severe climate change is, particularly how quickly it is happening.
Also, we went to get data from indigenous fishers to include their traditional knowledge. So I went to a Native American reservation in the state of
So one night I was attending an environmental law class and the teacher read a news headline about this tiny Alaskan native village suing fossil fuel companies for damaging their homeland and creating a false debate about climate change. I knew I had to write about it.
Can you tell us a little about their culture and history?
They are Inupiat, tracing their ancestry to the northwest
I did not know much about the area before going, so I did a lot of reading in the Kivalina school library of their oral histories and asked questions. I was probably annoying, but they were always incredibly open and friendly, inviting me into their homes, happy to talk and share. When you think about how they live and have lived, it’s pretty amazing. You can see how the strong social and community bonds would help them survive.
You wrote about Kivalina’s grievances against ExxonMobil. What prompted them and where does the fight currently stand?
The reason the island is eroding is because of warming Arctic temperature—sea ice now forms later and later in the year, leaving the shoreline vulnerable to erosion from storms. In 1992, Kivalina residents voted to move and in 2003 and 2006
In 2008, Kivalina filed a public nuisance claim against ExxonMobil and 23 other large fossil fuel companies for their relocation costs. They also charged a smaller subset with conspiracy and concert of action for creating a false debate around climate change. Kivalina’s representation includes some lawyers that had been involved in both sides of the tobacco lawsuits. In 2009, a judge dismissed Kivalina’s claim as a “political question” for the executive and legislative branches and unsuitable for the judicial branch. The judge also denied Kivalina legal standing to bring the lawsuit. This meant that the secondary claims, which had to do with the climate change misinformation campaign, were thrown out without being commented on. The decision is being appealed and Kivalina is waiting on that. In the meantime, they are still trying to relocate.
Who is to blame for what’s transpired?
Under public nuisance law, you can hold people or companies accountable that make a “meaningful” or “substantial” contribution to a harm. The 24 fossil fuel companies were chosen for being among the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, while a smaller subset face claims of conspiracy and concert of action for going—in Cole’s words—“above and beyond” in their efforts to try and mislead people about the science on climate change.
Following the logic of the lawsuit, the companies are substantial contributors to the harm now facing Kivalina. Many of the companies knew of the harm they were creating, and tried to deal with it, not by cutting back on emissions, but by misleading people to protect their businesses. Kivalina is therefore seeking damages for the cost of their needed relocation.
Who is helping Kivalina relocate? What options do they have at this time to preserve their culture and integrity?
There is no formal
The Government Accountability Office has recommended that a
Is the Kivalina situation an anomaly or is this something that is happening in other locations of the world as well, where people may also be displaced as a consequence of global warming?
I think Kivalina is an anomaly in the sense that most of the discussion around the biggest impacts of climate change are usually focused on the Global South. Kivalina offers an example of how
There seems to be two types of impacts from climate change. One is the steady threat of displacement, like the people of Kivalina and other
How can people reach out to the folks in Kivalina?
A reduction on greenhouse gas emissions—mitigation—is still important, but communities like Kivalina show we also need to focus on adaptation policies.
I think the most important thing for Kivalina is that a relocation policy is put into place. This will give the people of Kivalina a blueprint for what to do and what they can do. The Native American Rights Fund and the group Three Degrees Warmer are trying to streamline the process, while human rights lawyer Robin Bronen is trying to institute a relocation policy at the international level grounded in human rights law—climigration. These groups could use support.
Also, we need to communicate to our political representatives that cuts in disaster management and adaptation, which are currently being debated, are unacceptable. Climate change is here and we have to deal with it.
Joshua Frank is a journalist and author covering political and environmental topics. His articles and essays have appeared in Counterpunch, Z Magazine, Truthout, and Alternet, among other publications. Photo credits: Kivaline, Alaska. Photo from pics4.city-data.com; Shoring up the coastline.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.