Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

The refugees of Manus Island

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Zimbabwe's opposition leader says he hasn't been called upon to be part of the new government

Read more

THE DEBATE

Palestinian Reconciliation: Will Fatah, Hamas agreement succeed?

Read more

FOCUS

Could Pakistan be your next holiday destination?

Read more

THE POLITICAL BRIEF

Defeated presidential candidate Fillon bids farewell to French politics

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Charles Manson: Murderer and cult leader dies after 47 years in prison

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Bricks vs. clicks: Will e-commerce finish off the high street shop?

Read more

ENCORE!

Eastwood & Gainsbourg: Can the children of geniuses step out from their famous shadows?

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Is France a chain-smoking nation?

Read more

REVISITED

We return to places which have been in the news - often a long time ago, sometimes recently - to see how local people are rebuilding their lives. Sunday at 9.10 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2014-03-03

Shishmaref, a village adrift

Perched on an island at the very edge of Alaska, Shishmaref has become a symbol of global warming. For the past ten years, this village has been collapsing. With the melting of the ice caps, water levels are rising, and gradually the sea is eating away at the coast. It's a nightmare for 600 Eskimos who live here. If nothing is done, Shishmaref could soon be wiped off the map, and its 4,000-year-old Inuit culture could disappear. Our reporters went to find out more.

The nearest town from Shishmaref is one hour away by plane. Alighting from the small propeller plane, we discover an almost abandoned village. Encircled by the Chukchi Sea and the icy winds of the North Pole, we feel as if we have arrived in a ghost town. During the few hours of daylight, we see silhouettes astride roaring quad bikes. The island is just two kilometres long and 500 metres wide.

It is November, but there is very little snow and the ice floe has not formed yet. Abandoned remains of snowmobiles are strewn around the houses. There is no running water or gas. The residents are mainly self-subsistent, in the Inuit tradition. In Shishmaref, a hunter knows how to fish, and vice versa.

But for the past several years, the lives of these Eskimos have been turned upside down. Global warming has completely disrupted the cycles of nature. As a result, we are at the beginning of winter and the inhabitants are hunting seals on the lagoon, instead of fishing under the ice.

With the rise in temperatures, storms are more frequent, the ice is melting, water levels are rising and waves are eating away at the permafrost, the mixture of sand and ice on which Shishmaref is built. Twenty houses have already been swallowed up. The erosion means the island is shrinking by almost 20 metres every year.

By Valérie DEFERT , Sébastien VUAGNAT

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-11-09 Europe

Video: Remembering France’s 'camp of shame' at Rivesaltes

For three decades, Rivesaltes in southern France was home to the largest internment camp in Western Europe. FRANCE 24 returns to the site where tens of thousands of people were...

Read more

2017-10-26 Middle East

Video: East Jerusalem still at heart of Middle East tensions

At the end of the 1967 Six-Day War, the victorious Israeli army took control of East Jerusalem, placing both Muslim and Christian holy sites under the control of the Israeli...

Read more

2017-10-20 Europe

Video: In St. Petersburg, legacy of Nazi siege lives on

As Russia’s cultural hub, St. Petersburg delights millions of tourists every year. Founded by Peter the Great, the city was renamed Petrograd during World War I then Leningrad...

Read more

2017-09-28 Asia-pacific

Video: Indian city of Pondicherry proud of its French touch

Our reporters returned to the Indian city of Pondicherry, in the Gulf of Bengal, a former trading post of the French East India Company. Fifty-five years after it was handed back...

Read more

2017-09-15 Asia-pacific

Video: Dried-up Aral Sea springs back to life

Straddling the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea was once the fourth-largest saline lake in the world, an inland sea of 66,000 square kilometres. But in...

Read more