Free Screening: Kivalina: The Canary in the Mine

Screening Friday 24th April, 2009

In time for next week’s Arctic Ministerial Conference this is a film that shows the first test case for the world that is trying to pin down responsibility on the 24 main oil, electricity and coal companies. This case will hit the press in May when the case goes to court. This is the only chance to hear from the main lawyer in the case and the testimony from one of the Inupiat Eskimo residents.

At the tip of a barrier island 80 miles above the Arctic Circle, Kivalina is home to 400 native Alaskan Inupiat residents.  They, along with their school, post office, health clinic, grocery store, laundry, two churches and a bingo hall are sinking into the Chukchi Sea.  Their town is melting.  Over the past 50 years, their average annual temperature has risen more than three degrees Fahrenheit and in the autumn of 2007, the whole island was evacuated for a few weeks following a devastating storm. 

A year ago, these 400 residents started legal action against 24 oil, electricity, and coal companies, including British Petroleum, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.  In this test case they are accusing the companies of contributing to global warming and public nuisance, creating a false scientific debate about global warming in order to deceive the public.  Kivalina’s legal battle is being compared to the fight that finally forced the tobacco companies to pay billions in damages. The growing clarity of the science and understanding of emissions are giving these cases a greater chance than they have had in the past, particularly because of the conspiracy charge against the oil companies. The same charge levelled against the tobacco companies, lulling people into a false sense of security.


Director: Nicolas Koutsikas              
Running Time: 30 minutes
France 2009

In Association with OxDox