Alaskan native Esau Sinnok is helping to build a sustainable future for Alaska.
The former Arctic Youth Ambassador hails from the village of Shishmaref in northwest Alaska, where essential ice is being lost and homes are in danger of melting away.
The 20-year-old comes from a long line of Inupiaq Eskimos who have inhabited a small Alaskan barrier island, Sarichef, and others like it for some 4,000 years.
The residents of his village, Shishmaref, voted last year to relocate as hopes dwindled that their island home could be saved from the ravages of the rising sea. The island is a mere quarter-mile wide and two and a half miles long and loses about 3 to 10 yards every year to the sea. Since 1969, nearly 70 yards of the shore has eroded away, and numerous homes have fallen into the sea.
Esau Sinnok was one of a group of young adults and children who last year sued Alaska’s government, alleging the state is threatening their fundamental human rights by not taking responsibility for climate change.
The lawsuit demands that the state and the federal government cut carbon emissions to reduce carbon dioxide levels from their current 400 parts per million to 350 ppm, based on work conducted by climate scientist James Hansen.
Esau Sinnok says he’s fighting not only for Shishmaref, but also for other communities facing a similar fate.
He said: “My home in the next few decades will be gone, the island will be underwater. I don’t want that for any other communities here in Alaska.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea