Quantcast
Climate
The Native Alaskan village of Kivalina is especially vulnerable to climate change. ShoreZone / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Alaska Defies Partisan Climate Divide With Forthcoming Action Plan

Alaska has voted for a Republican for president in every U.S. election since 1964, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Given the growing partisan divide on climate change, one would not expect the state to take action on climate change, let alone acknowledge that it is a problem.


But Alaska is also uniquely impacted by the effects of climate change. Scientists have called this year's loss of sea ice on the Bering Sea a "natural disaster" for Alaskan communities that rely on the ice pack to facilitate transportation and hunting, and to protect their homes from winter storms. The Native Alaskan village of Kivalina, located on a barrier island, even took a leading role in seeking damages for climate change when it sued fossil fuel companies in 2008 over the impacts of erosion and flooding from coastal storms due to sea-ice loss, though the suit was unsuccessful.

Now impacts are building up to the point where state politicians have no choice but to take action and are developing a plan to that end, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

"The change has been so real and so widespread that it's become impossible to ignore," Democratic Lieutenant Gov. Byron Mallott told The New York Times. "Folks are realizing that it's something we have to deal with," he said.

Mallott is in charge of a task force initiated by Independent Gov. Bill Walker in October 2017 that is due to propose policy recommendations to reduce the state's emissions and mitigate the impacts of warming by September.

The most recent draft, dated April 25, calls on Alaska to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-third below 2005 emissions by the same date.

However, as The New York Times pointed out, Alaska's major contribution to global emissions comes in the form of the oil and gas exported by the state to the rest of the country.

Alaska gets 85 percent of its budget from oil production, and its leaders are averse to directly challenging the source of their funding.

The most recent draft of the climate action plan took out a line from an earlier draft saying "There is an economic and ethical imperative to pursue a transition away from a global dependence on fossil fuels," and both Walker and Mallott support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Not all Alaskans agree with this pro-oil outlook. 16 young Alaskans, represented by Our Children's Trust, have sued the state for actions contributing to climate change, as Inside Climate News outlined in May.

"We're talking about climate change and we're seeing all these impacts, but at the same time we're continuing to pursue activities that create climate change," one of the young people named in the case, Tasha Elizarde, said. "I hope that this pushes the Walker administration and future administrations to look at this case and understand what a big problem climate change can be."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Judge Halts Seismic Testing Permits During Shutdown

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Pxhere

DiCaprio-Funded Study: Staying Below 1.5ºC is Totally Possible

Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.

Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Martin Luther King Jr. at steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

MLK Would Have Been an Environmental Leader, Too

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and actions continue to resonate on the 90th anniversary of his birth.

As the country honors the life and legacy of the iconic civil rights leader today, we are reminded that the social justice and the climate movements are deeply connected.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A great tit family and nest. Bak GiSeok / 500px / Getty Images

Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts

By Marlene Cimons

Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.

The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Saving the World’s Largest Tropical Wetland

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

35,000 Protestors in Berlin Call for Agricultural Revolution

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A Massachusetts road coated with snow and ice following the winter storm which prompted Trump to mock climate change. Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Trump Once Again Confuses Weather and Climate in Response to Deadly Winter Storm

President Donald Trump has once again contradicted the findings of the U.S. government when it comes to the threat posed by climate change. Days after a Department of Defense report outlined how climate-related events like wildfires and flooding put U.S. military installations at risk, Trump took to Twitter to mock the idea that the world could be getting warmer, Time reported.

Trump's tweet came in response to a massive winter storm that blanketed the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The fire that erupted after a pipeline explosion in Mexico Friday. FRANCISCO VILLEDA / AFP / Getty Images

85 Dead in Mexican Pipeline Explosion

A dramatic pipeline explosion in central Mexico Friday has killed at least 85 people, Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer Valera said Sunday night, The Associated Press reported.

The explosion occurred in a field in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan as people rushed to gather fuel from the pipeline, which had been ruptured by suspected thieves. Many were covered in oil before a fireball shot into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!