A Warm Welcome to Alaska
If this keeps up, it won’t be too long before billboards, websites and the media will be running ads that read something like, “Come to balmy Alaska. And don’t forget your swimsuit.”
Just before President Obama’s three-day visit to the Alaska Arctic, The Associated Press sent out a story about the effects of global warming on the area. Since 1959, the news organization reported, more than 3.5 trillion – that’s with a T – tons of water have melted off Alaska’s glaciers. That’s enough to fill more than 1 billion Olympic-sized pools. The news organization extrapolated this information from studies, which also showed that 26 communities’ existence is threatened by the melting of sea ice that protects them from storms and makes hunting easier. That sea ice is absent one month longer each year than it was in the 1970s, the Army Corps of Engineers has indicated.
Frosty the no man
Frolicking in Alaska
What’s more, warming of the ground is causing permafrost to lose its perma characteristic. Dictionaries might have to include a new word: tempafrost, to indicate temporary and temperature. When the ground oozes, it causes roads, pipelines and houses’ foundations to tilt and shift. Maybe the Man of La Mancha can shift from windmills to houses.
“And scientists fear the thawing permafrost will unleash large amounts of trapped greenhouse gases and speed up worldwide warming,” the AP said. Wildfires are breaking out in far greater numbers than ever recorded.
Since 1959, when Alaska became the 49th state, its average annual temperature has risen 3.3 degrees, with the average winter temperature spiking 5 degrees. The effects of warming apparently are gaining speed, as glaciers lost 57 billion tons of ice a year from 1959 to 1993, but almost 83 billion tons a year since 1994. AP referenced glacier expert Regine Hock, who said all but about five of Alaska’s 25,000 glaciers are shrinking.
See no warming, hear no warming
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton
But come on, most Republicans know none of that came from man-made global warming. They’ll argue that scientists have found the earth has warmed and cooled in cycles. That may be true, but it’s interesting that the speeded-up warming of the last 100 years or so has coincided with the increasing discharge of greenhouse gases. Still, a number of Republican national politicians don’t even concede that the warming is happening, much less that it’s caused by man’s activities. Twenty-four members of the U.S. House voted against an amendment in January 2014 stating conclusively that climate change is occurring. Michigan Congressman Fred Upton has even said that God wouldn’t allow the earth to be destroyed.
That calls to mind a joke. A boat came to rescue a man on the rooftop of his home, submerged in flood waters from Hurricane Katrina. He declined the men’s offer, saying, “God will save me.” A second boat came later, and the man again refused help, declaring, “I am confident God will save me.” Then a helicopter hovered over the man, its pilot imploring him to submit to a rescue. Once again, the man refused, insisting, “The Lord will rescue me.” But he drowned, and, arriving at the Pearly Gates, complained, “All my life I’ve had faith in you, God, and you let me down.” And God replied, “What do you want from me, man? I sent you two boats and a helicopter, and you turned them all away.”
We have a number of ways to avert the calamity that global warming is wreaking. Are we going to turn them all down?