Published on June 24th, 2009 | by Ruedigar Matthes
Let He Who Has an Ear Listen: Real Effects of Climate Change
I recently wrote a post concerning a report on climate change issued by the U.S. Government stating that “climate change has immediate and local impacts – it literally affects people in their backyards.” Well, as it turns out, there’s more to the story.
With the recent introduction of H.R. 2454 – the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 – there has been an increased push for climate change awareness. The purpose of the bill is to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.
This all sounds great, right? Well, not to everyone seems to agree. Not everyone believes in climate change. With such a debate raging, it may be difficult to see through the haze of words and opinions that is filling the air.
It is past that haze that I want to take us; to a little community nestled comfortably on the west side of the Kuskokwim Bay. Resting 464 miles west of Anchorage and with a reported 361 residents as of July 2007 it’s no wonder you probably haven’t heard of it. It’s called Kwigillingok. This small community of native Yup’ik residents isn’t on the forefront of modern technology, but is a community that is founded on the past, on a simpler form of life.
It is through looking at the past that the Kwig residents are able to see the problems of the modern times, one of which is climate change.
Recently some Kwig High School students put together a small video to tell their story and show that climate change has real effects on real people. These high school students are feeling the effects of climate change on a very intimate level; they feel it much more, perhaps, than we city dwellers.
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In a place where your way of life is dependent upon your surroundings, a change in those surroundings can be devastating. With all of the conveniences of city life, we may not always see the effects we have on the climate. But when Kwig residents are forced to move from their small community, they will feel the effects of our actions.