While some climatologists are concerned parts of California and New York may someday disappear underwater, the small town of Kivalina in Alaska is expected to be succumb to its watery surroundings by 2025, according to a new report.
Two decades of warming ocean waters and the subsequent melting of Arctic ice has made the small Alaskan village, which is located on a spit of sand adjacent to the Bering Sea, vulnerable to storms. The BBC reports that Kivalina’s shoreline has noticeably narrowed over the past two decades, causing U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to estimate that the land will become uninhabitable in as little as 12 years.
The small fishing village is home to some of Alaska’s indigenous tribes, and it's estimated that the U.S. government would have to spend about $400 million to help them relocate. “If we’re still here in 10 years time we either wait for the flood and die, or just walk away and go somewhere else,” Kivalina council leader Colleen Swan said.
The New York Times last year reported that residents of Kivalina were forced in 1992 to move to their current location, the tribe's seasonal hunting ground, or face imprisonment. They've faced a series of devastating storms since 2004. "The U.S. government imposed this Western lifestyle on us, gave us their burdens and now they expect us to pick everything up and move it ourselves,” Swan told BBC. “What kind of government does that?"