By Renee Lewis / Source Fusion.net
“What’s special about Shishmaref is that we’re all family,” said Esau Sinnok, an 18-year-old climate activist from Shishmaref, a native village in western Alaska that might have to relocate because of climate change.
“All 650 people there are my family and not being able to see them every day like I’m used to—if I had to move to the city—I’d be heartbroken and sad not seeing all of their faces,” he said.
Shishmaref is a barrier island about 130 miles north of Nome on the Chukchi Sea. Rising seas and more ice-free months are causing erosion that is eating away at the island. Residents fear it will be completely submerged within decades.
Over a dozen homes have already been relocated, and sea walls 15-feet high have been built to protect others.
Faced with the potential loss of their island, residents will vote on August 16 to decide whether or not to relocate to the mainland.