Scientists and politicians spend hours debating the facts of climate change, but in many places damaging changes to the local environment are already a reality. In the past decade, more and more human settlements have been threatened by catastrophic flooding, wildfires, or drought caused by variations in usual climate patterns. Climate change is already having devastating effects on Alaska; a 2003 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that flooding and erosion affect 86% of Alaska Native villages. Faced with deteriorating environmental conditions, residents of the traditional Yup’ik village of Newtok, Alaska decided to relocate and move the village to the site of the community’s summer camp, nine miles away from Newtok’s current location. Rather than wait for the United States or the state of Alaska to develop strategies to assist communities affected by climate change, Newtok took its future into its own hands. In doing so, they have become a model for others.
"Newtok Relocation Effort." Honoring Nations: 2010 Honoree. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2011. Report.