The Alaskan village of Shishmaref is officially relocating to the Alaskan mainland due to global warming-related erosion.

The decision was made on Tuesday, with 80 votes in favor of the move and 78 against it, according to the International Business Times.

However, moving the isolated town, which is perched on Sarichef Island in the Chukchi Sea, five miles to the mainland will be costly. Thus, it is possible that only the residents of Shishmaref will end up moving.

English: Map showing the location of the Chukc...
English: Map showing the location of the Chukchi Sea. Modified map based on map :commons:Image:Chukchi Sea map.png created by NormanEinstein, May 31, 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“About 15 years ago, they estimated the cost at $180 million, but I would figure it’s much higher now,” Donna Barr, the secretary of the Shishmaref Council, told CNN. “We don’t see the move happening in our lifetime because of the funding.”

As a matter of fact, a move was voted in 2002. However, a lack of funding and suitable land to relocate to caused the plans to fall short, according to Mashable.

In addition, it reported Shishmaref Mayor Harold Weyiouanna said erosion has been an ongoing problem since the 1980’s. Even though a seawall was already put up, more protection is needed to ensure the whole island is safe.

Global warming and rising temperatures is a major factor. The melting sea ice and  permafrost is increasing coastal erosion. This, in turn, causes the island to lose land. Thus, people often have to move houses, according to the International Business Times.

Shishmaref native and Artic youth ambassador, Esau Sinnok, wrote in an essay:

“Over the past 35 years, we’ve lost 2,500 to 3,000 feet of land to coastal erosion. To put this in perspective: I was born in 1997, and since then, Shishmaref has lost about 100 feet. In the past 15 years, we had to move 13 houses – including my dear grandma Edna’s house – from one end of the island to the other because of this loss of land.”

“The lack of ice has affected our hunting, fishing and other traditions. Every year it gets harder and harder to collect enough meat for the winter,” Sinnok added.

Since the village’s population of about 600 is not responsible for that, either the local, state, or federal government will pay for the relocation fees.

31 other Alaskan villages are also facing a similar problem. However, many of them are not eligible for federal funding to relocate, according to CNN.

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