The Business Consequences of Arctic Climate Change

By Ryan Campbell

The Inuit of Kivalina, Alaska, have begun to consider their legal options in determining how they are going to relate to other societies and corporations who have been contributing to climate change. This is because the ocean has been swallowing their homes,1 as the increasing strength of the waves erode their coastline. While the Inuit people are a broad ethnic category, “all Inuit share a common culture characterized by dependence on subsistence harvesting in both the terrestrial and marine environments, sharing of food, travel on snow and ice, a common base of traditional knowledge, and adaptation to similar Arctic conditions.”2 The Inuit, in their varied landscapes and across the lines of nations,3 have all felt the sting of global warming as keenly as any other indigenous group. It is difficult to summarize the plight of the Inuit in the face of climate change as so much of their lives has been damaged—the details of damages to the Inuit in the Petition to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights Seeking Relief from Violations Resulting from Global Warming Caused by Acts and Omissions of the United States stretch for many pages.4 The claims range from decreased mobility resulting in the breakdown of tribal bonds to increased death rates from the Inuit no longer being able to rely on traditional knowledge to predict when the ice is safe to walk on, both due to changing climate trends.5 What is simpler to evaluate, however, are some of the legal avenues the Inuit have used to address this.