A sandy bluff towers above the beach in Dillingham, Alaska. Every year, Alaska Native resident Ken Shade watches as a little more of his land falls over the edge, into the sea.
Dillingham is just one example of a small Alaskan town with a big erosion problem. Around the state, dozens of coastal communities are watching their coastlines crumble, losing at least 3 feet of land per year. Critical infrastructure such as airport runways, fuel tanks, and schools are in danger. Many Alaska Natives have been hard hit: Now, with climate change altering weather patterns, melting permafrost, and reducing sea ice, the land these communities are built on is falling into the sea.
Shade has already moved his house farther away from the bluff once, about 25 years ago, to save it from falling over the edge. The process took him a whole summer. After digging around the foundation and jacking up the house, he slid the building onto a trailer built out of old car axles, then dragged the whole thing using heavy machinery. His neighbor, a mechanic, took a different a... Read more