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“Climigration” In Northern Alaska: Sign Of Things To Come?

A new paper outlines the problems involved in relocating communities that are losing their land to climate change, and warns that other coastal areas could find themselves in the same position.

What’s the Latest Development?

A paper published this week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US) details the challenges involved in what its authors call “climigration”: the resettlement of communities that are losing their land due to the effects of climate change. The paper focuses on three coastal villages in northern Alaska, all of which have suffered tremendous losses to their infrastructures because of increased flooding and erosion associated with rising temperatures. Unfortunately, due to conflicting regulations and a lack of funds, very little progress has been made towards relocation. So far only one of the three towns has managed to build a few houses at a new site.

What’s the Big Idea?

The authors believe that, without some kind of central authority, what’s currently happening with these and other Alaskan coastal villages could happen with other coastal areas if climate change continues unabated. They use the events following Hurricane Sandy as an example of what “may force even wealthy, heavily populated areas to make hard choices about what to invest in protecting—and what to relocate.” They also note that “about 10 percent of the world’s population—along with trillions of dollars of infrastructure—is within a few meters of the ocean.”

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Read it at Ars Technica


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