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March 02, 2008

The Kivalina Hustle [dri]


The Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment is up to their old tricks once again, this time suing a slew of energy companies over the alleged damage their products have caused to the Earth Goddess Gaia (P.B.U.H.). The San Francisco based law firm, the Native American Rights Fund, plus six other law firms have joined the suit on behalf of the tiny Alaskan village of Kivalina against the region’s most evil oil, power and coal companies. The Plaintiffs claim that emissions from those power companies have contributed to global warming and that as a result of those effects, the village and its inhabitants must be moved 7.5 miles away.

In addition, the suit seeks damages for an alleged conspiracy by several of the defendants to "create a false scientific debate" regarding global warming and that they" formed and used front groups, fake citizen’s organizations and bogus scientific bodies ....” to further their evil, earth destroying plans.

This is likely the first of ten coastal villages that will claim that they are under the threat of global warming and therefore must be moved. That also means that this is likely the first of nine more lawsuits that will be brought by The Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment. The law firm has a rich history of litigiousness in the area having initiated several recent lawsuits against mining operations (who are also the region’s largest employers).

Kivalina is situated at the tip of an 8-mile barrier reef located on the Northern coast of Alaska. It is locked in ice and unnavigatable for the better part of 8 months per year. Its average winter low temperature is -15 degrees and its summer high temperature averages 57 degrees. The village gets almost five feet of snow per year.

The tiny village of Kivalina, population 383, has been suffering the effects of storm related ocean erosion damage for many decades. Since the early 1990’s various state and federal agencies have been funding studies on how and where to best relocate the village. This is not the first relocation of the village though. In 1900, Kivalina was forced to pull up stakes and move to its current imperiled location.

Kivalina is not the only village in the area forced to move because of erosion and flooding. The nearby village of Shungnak, founded in 1899 was forced to move during the 1920s because of erosion and flooding. In May 1973, a flood inundated the entire village. The village of Buckland has moved its location at least five times and the village of Noorvik’s name literally translates as "a place that is moved to".

Fifteen years ago, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Alaska State Historic
Preservation Office (SHPO) investigated the area to determine the feasibility of preserving an historically significant site from the danger of ocean erosion.
“The SHPO noted that placing fill on the coastal side of the site may act to preserve the site, but that the erosion problem was being caused by the dock interrupting sediment movement. The SHPO and NPS also expressed concerns about how the change to near shore sediment transport may adversely effect coastal sites southeast of the port”.

Erosion has been a major problem of the coastal villages of Alaska since they were settled. Their main defense has been the thick ice that forms during the cold months of the year that protects the villages from waves generated by winter storms. It is now claimed by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that man made global warming is preventing the protective ice from forming thus leaving the tiny villages defenseless. That may be a tough sell to a jury though. Many experts do not agree with the law firm’s climatological “expertise”. "A lot of these places were destined to have erosion problems from the day they were built," said Orson Smith, an Arctic engineering professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

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posted by xgenghisx at 03:13 PM

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