"I'm expecting a big wave... I always tell my children to be thankful for what they have, because tomorrow it might not be there. They grasp it pretty good. Yeah, I'm very proud of them.~ William Kanuk, Nelson's father
MY STORY. I am an Alaskan Native, a member of the Yup’ik Eskimo Tribe. Living in Alaska and in close touch with the changing climate here, I fear that my family, village, and culture will all be some of the first to be irreparably harmed by climate change. In fact, we already are experiencing the effects of climate change now.
In Kipnuk, the snow fallslater than it used to, and the sea icestarts forming deeper into thewinter. The elders of my village tellme that the cold actually protects usfrom the winter storms. And, the iceprotects from the ocean storms.
fear for my future
less food sources
The warmer temperaturesmelt the permafrost, which weakensthe land and makes it unstable. Inthe fall of 2010, our home was 60 feet away from the river bank, but bythe end of 2011, the river is now 13feet closer. We do not know wherewe will move when the river comestoo close to our home.
Since I am the oldest of mysix siblings, I will need to take myfather’s place at the head of thefamily once he is no longer here. Ineed to start preparing now. I ampreparing for that future by taking astand against climate change. Ifclimate change continues, we willno longer be able to hunt like wehave, or be safe where we havebeen.
My name is Nelson Kanuk, I am 18 years old and I matter.
I started by telling my story.
What is your story as it relates to the climate crisis?
My story is about my life in the Alaskan tundra and how global warming is melting the permafrost that our village is built on. It is messing up the weather cycle, and affecting my community's lifestyle. I've begun to tell my story all across the country and people begin to recognize that we are affected by the climate crisis already.
You can screen Nelson's video in your own community to start a discussion on climate change, the effects of flood, permafrost melt, erosion, and weather changes. Using the screening guide below, and other resources, your community can become more aware of the climate crisis. And do something about it.
Nelson's story is one of nine short films about young people across the U.S. who have been affected by climate change. This film series helps to put a human face on climate change to let people know this is about our future survival.
I filed a lawsuit against the State of Alaska in 2011, asking the courts to determine that the atmosphere is part of the public trust, and that the State has an obligation to protect it. The court disagreed and dismissed the lawsuit. On November 16, 2012, five other appellants and I filed our opening brief to the Alaska Supreme Court.
I am also part of the Federal lawsuit because I am a member of Kids vs Global Warming. You can become a Friend of the Court and sign this Amicus Brief to make sure your voices are counted when that case goes into appeal.
You can help hold your government accountable to the public trust doctrine that protects the atmosphere as a public resource.
I will be organizing a march in Sitka, Alaska, where I go to boarding school. It's not hard, and it's a way to build a team of supporters, as well as a way to let your community know that the climate crisis is about our future.