Molly Shearer, Finalist, Local Letters for Global Change

Rays of sunlight spill over a  Shishmaref home as the midnight sun sets over the Chuckchi Sea. Image courtesy of Nick Mott. United States, 2018.

Rays of sunlight spill over a  Shishmaref home as the midnight sun sets over the Chuckchi Sea. Image courtesy of Nick Mott. United States, 2018.

This letter features reporting from "An Alaskan Village Is Falling into the Sea. Washington Is Looking the Other Way." by Amy Martin

Dear Senator Stabenow,

In Shishmaref, Alaska, a small barrier island off the coast of Alaska, 600 people, 150 homes, churches, schools, and children are living in isolation. Published on October 22nd this year, “An Alaskan village is falling into the sea. Washington is looking the other way,” written by Amy Martin for PRI details the impact of climate change in the Arctic. Because of the increase in temperature, ice is forming late, and the waves are slamming directly into the shore. These people cannot move. They have established a culture, dialect, and family. The cost to move their community to the mainland of Alaska would take an estimated $179 million. 40 percent of these people are below the poverty line. In the absence of federal aid, the people of Shishmaref are helpless. Around 30 unique villages are in imminent danger. Within 10 years, at least 1 coastal society is expected to fall off.

The groundbreaking release of the IPCC reports on October 8th of this year have confirmed that the global climate change issue is almost certainly driven by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Both Alaska and ‘Pure Michigan’ have experienced the consequences of global warming. Higher temperatures are leading to less ice cover on the Great Lakes. Lowering water levels continue to threaten fish and wildlife. An increase in Great Lakes water temperature heightens the risk of harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie, as well as other basins. Algae blooms are killing fish, trapping them in oxygen-depleted waters. Climate change is changing the distribution and range of certain fish species, allowing more invasive species in.

In addition to supporting environmentally friendly initiatives and bills such as the Defend the Great Lakes Act and GLRI, we can avoid the effects of climate change on our Great Lakes. As the co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force I trust that you will consider the consequences of global warming on both our economy and environment as each newly introduced bill slides along your desk.

Molly Shearer


Molly Shearer is an 11th grade student at Allen Park High School in Allen Park, Michigan.

Click here to read more winners and finalists from the 2018 Local Letters for Global Change contest.