A tiny Alaskan village is getting swallowed by the sea, and they want Big Oil to pay for their relocation costs. Kivalina, AK, population, 377, is an Inupiat Eskimo village 625 miles northwest of Anchorage. It’s a frozen cluster of shacks wedged between the Chukchi Sea and the Kivalina River. Or at least it was.
Sea ice, which once protected the town from pounding waves and erosion, has melted, and the place is literally washing away. The Inupiats want to move their village to some more ferma terra, and in true American spirit, they’re suing for their relocation costs (400 million big ones). Who are they suing? A couple dozen oil and power companies (including just about everyone you probably buy unleaded from) who, Kivalina residents say, contribute to the global warming that causing the ice to melt.
It’s easy to get cynical about lawsuits. But this isn’t exactly suing Micky D’s for making you fat when you choose to eat Big Macs every day. . It’s not the first suit of its kind either: the state of California filed in 2006 against six automakers they said were responsible for the millions of dollars they expected to spend on global warming-caused floods. But those two cases so have something in common: they were both thrown out of court. Good luck, Eskimos. We’ll be following your case. —Shannon Davis