A Shishmaref student from the University of Alaska Fairbanks received recognition for climate equity contribution.
Esau Sinnok from the Shishmaref Island community was one of the ten people invited to Washington, DC to be honored by the president. Esau joined a list of winners that includes CEOs, sustainability experts, scientists, tribal elders, and program directors.
The student says that by 2030, he hopes to run for Governor of Alaska.
Esau had been raised on an Alaskan island and had been a first-hand witness to climate change. He decided to share with the world the way the warming temperatures are impacting his community, by this rising awareness of climate change in the Arctic.
Each year, Arctic and sub-Arctic communities lose land because of coastal erosion. In the last 35 years, the island lost between 2,500 and 3,000 square meters of land. The Shishmaref community had to relocate more than a dozen of homes because of the ground that was moving under their feet.
Shishmaref loses 10 feet of land every year, and even if the locals installed barricades to protect the village, the erosion of the shore continues.
The community plans to move to Tin Creek. However, the location could still not be a permanent one because the permafrost is melting in the area. Everywhere they are looking, the locals are facing the effects of the climate changing that are making the zone inhabitable.
Esau Sinook traveled to the COP21 at the UN climate change negotiations, where he represented the Shishmaref community. He also took part in the international sustainability talks in Paris earlier this year.
Esau was also an Arctic Youth Ambassador for the US Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The US presided Council for two years, during which time Esau presented his ideas on the future of Alaska’s communities and other Arctic issues.
Shishmaref is an Inupiaq community of around 650 people, situated between Nome and Kotzebue in the northern part of the Seward Peninsula in Alaska.
The Champions of Change program aims at featuring individuals that inspire the members of their communities and empower other people in taking act against the effects of climate change.
The list of winners includes individuals that invested their work in empowering low-income communities in dealing with global warming.
This year’s Champions of Change for Climate Equity are Kristin Baja from the Baltimore City Office of Sustainability, Gilbert Campbell from Volt Energy, Susana De Anda who is a co-founder of Community Water Center in California, Michael Durglo from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Michael Green from the Climate Action Business Association, Cecilia Martinez from the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Colette Pichon Battle from the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, Vien Truong from Green For All, Desiree Williams-Rajee from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, and Esau Sinnok, student.
Image Source: Wikipedia