There is no turning back on Climate Change anymore by CARLOS MATÍAS
ALASKA COMMUNITY ACTION ON TOXICS ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH DIRECTOR, SAMARYS SEGUINOT-MEDINA, WILL RETURN MAY 8 TO SIVUQAC (GAMBELL AND SAVOONGA) TO TEST THE BLOOD OF NATIVE CHILDREN TO SEE HOW CHEMICAL POLLUTION IN THE AREA IMPACTS THEIR HEALTH. SHE WILL ALSO RETURN IN AUGUST TO NORTHEAST CAPE (NEC) FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING, SAMPLING IN THE BLOOD OF ADULTS, AND TO HOLD A MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF FAMILIES WHO LIVED, AND HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY MILITARY CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION, IN THE AREA. THEY HOPE TO FIND MEASURES TO PROPOSE TO THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IN ORDER TO STOP IT. SHE FEARS THAT THE WAR IN UKRAINE MAY MAKE THE SITUATION WORSE.
“There is no turning back on Climate Change anymore; everything that is being done is not enough. More needs to be done to restore the natural balance of the planet,” says Samarys Seguinot-Medina, director of Environmental Health for Alaska Community Action on Toxics, and a Latina leader in the front lines of the climate and environmental justice struggle in Alaska.
Sol de Medianoche showed Samarys Seguinot-Medina a report from the Spanish newspaper La Razón, published last January, which talked about the “dangerous time bomb hidden under Alaska that is close to exploding and could spread deadly viruses.” Sensationalism? “Yellow journalism” in the style of British tabloid newspapers? “No, not at all,” Samarys replies. “Not only does it not exaggerate, but the news may fall short, surely out of prudence on the part of the newspaper and its journalist.”
The information from the Spanish newspaper La Razón explained that this “time bomb” with deadly viruses “hibernating” under the Alaskan ice “is close to exploding” and, therefore, close to spreading such deadly viruses, frozen for hundreds or thousands of years. Climate change is causing the permafrost layer, the ice that covers much of the territory of Alaska, the largest state in the United States, to disappear, and with the thaw the viruses could come out of their natural hibernation lethargy, come to life again and reactivate, causing a rapid “viral explosion” of possibly “catastrophic consequences for humans.”
“This is a very realistic hypothesis, more than we can imagine. Never before has the planet suffered a global warming like this one and we have no reference about its consequences, but we do know that they will not be good, just the opposite: it will be a series of climatic and environmental changes and of great destructive power, harmful to humanity, regardless of whether it inhabits Alaska or the United States, because it will undoubtedly affect the entire Earth,” says Seguinot-Medina. As director of Environmental Health at Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Seguinot-Medina has primarily researched the contamination of metals and permanent organic chemicals, i.e., POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants.)
“Mercury and other heavy metals, as well as pollutants and chemical agents, are carried by the tides towards the North Pole, towards the Arctic, and slowly, but inexorably, accumulate on the nearest coasts of the Arctic Circle, which pollutes the Arctic Ocean and reaches Alaska,” Samarys explains. “This is having negative repercussions on the health of the villages and tribes living in this area.” “We have found that among the people of Northeast Cape (NEC) en Sivuqaq Island (Yupik name for St. Lawrence Island, in the Bering Strait), cases of cancer, thyroid-related diseases, and cardiovascular ailments are very high. Once upon a time, Yupik elder Annie Alowa was trying for two decades to get the military to clean up its toxic waste. She died of cancer. However, she inspired then Greenpeace activist Pamela K. Miller to found Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) in 1997. Pam is a biologist and researcher.
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