Climate change is no longer a futuristic concern. People, governments and businesses are responding to issues today whether it is sunny day flooding in coastal cities, increased magnitude and frequency of forest fires or stalled weather patterns causing more flooding or droughts.
Venice is an important face of rising sea levels, but Miami is the most at risk major city in the world say climate scientists. Yet, a town in Alaska has been forced to plan and move their town inland today.
An NPR story by Greg Kim earlier this month was entitled, “Residents Of An Eroded Alaskan Village Are Pioneering A New One, In Phases.”
“It’s finally moving day in Newtok, Alaska, the village where erosion has already claimed several homes and the river is banging on more doors. Newtok is sending a third of its residents across the Ninglick River this year, to its replacement village, Mertarvik. Decades of planning have built up to this moment.”
An earlier story from September noted, “In mid-October, Newtok will move one-third of its roughly 350 residents to a new village currently under construction on higher ground 9 miles away. The move will mark a sober milestone: Newtok residents will be the first Americans to be relocated because of the effects of climate change.”
Two things stand out. The Newtok citizens have been planning this move for over 25 years. While that may surprise some folks, we have known about climate change and rising sea levels for some time. Exxon Mobil is in court for misepresenting the impact of climate change to shareholders, but much of the prosecutor’s data comes from suppressed data from Exxon Mobil scientists. These scientists used to speak to groups about climate change concerns until management told them to stop. Shell Oil even produced an educational video on climate change concerns in the 1990s.
While these firms have moved to a naysaying strategy fueled by a Public Relations firm, they know the hard truths. And, if they forget, their shareholders voted that management tell them.
Newtok will not be the last US town or city which may need to move. Please remember the term sunny day flooding, as it represents days when sea water leave standing water in the streets of these cities.