Why Climate Change Should Matter to You

As Alaskans, the landscape and environment is extremely important to our identity, ecology and economy.

The topic of climate change has increasingly become a mainstream issue discussed not only by environmental specialists, but by everyday Americans.

As temperatures continue to rise across the globe, the change in Alaska’s weather patterns are the most significant within the United States.

The physical evidence is indisputable that Alaska’s winters are getting warmer.

In December, temperatures soared into the high thirties and low forties resulting in green grass during a time when Alaska’s winter is typically in full swing.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Alaska’s temperatures have risen three degrees on average within the last 60 years and will continue to rise another two to four degrees by the middle of the century.

While this increase is only by a few degrees, it has had, and will continue to have, drastic impacts.

Senior Hannah Goodrum said, “It’s important to protect the environment because the environment sustains us. If we want to continue living the lives we do with breathable air, food to eat and water to drink, then we have to protect what we can now before it gets to a point that we will be unable to recover from. None of the issues that everyone considers priorities will matter if we can’t breathe.”

Alaska’s permafrost is beginning to melt which will pose issues with Alaskan transportation and infrastructure. Major sections of highways and parts of the infrastructural system are built on permafrost and with its melting, upheavals are beginning to occur.

The melting permafrost will also shorten the months oil and gas fields can be operated on which could be bad news for the heavily energy based economy.

The warmer temperatures are also very threatening to Alaska’s ecosystems and may bring danger to commercial fishing with the proliferation of plankton in colder waters.

The perennial sea ice is melting at drastic rates which could open upon more shipping routes, but at the cost of Alaskan Native communities and arctic species.

Junior Abby Dodd is an avid environmental activist and she said, “Protecting the environment is essential to the continuation of our well being as a human society. There will be no place to call home if we continue to damage our habitat. We have to take responsibility for our actions in order to continue our existence.”

On a more cultural level, the reduced snowfall is making it difficult for winter sports to compete as well as ski resorts such as Alyeska to keep the entire mountain open.

While it may seem like it is too late to reverse the effects of global warming, Alaskans and all Americans should be concerned with the state of our environment.

Disruptions in the delicate ecosystems can result in harmful effects for humans in addition to animals.

As evident in the raging California wildfires, climate change can pose an immediate threat to civilian settlements.

California is another state where climate change is making a notable impact with longer periods between rain falls.

Senior Erin Moody is a big supporter of environmental protection and believes that it is our duty as human beings to take care of our planet.

She said, “The future is in renewable resources. If America wants to continue to be a global power, we need to recognize this as a nation and act on it.”

Senior Aly Carney has a differing opinion about the best course of action.

She said, “Since we don’t have the technology to truly deal with it now, we should let capitalism handle itself. Let the hand guide itself and eventually we’ll develop the technology to help the environment because otherwise China is going to outcompete us.”

The modern day environmental movement began in the 1960s, 100 years after the beginning of the American Industrial Revolution.

It may be an impossible task to try and reverse the effects of over a century’s worth of environmental damage, but we can start by not making it worse.

Simply being conscious of your energy consumption and recycling are small ways that everyone can begin to make a difference.

Preserving the environment is not just an important global cause, but one that really hits home for Alaskans.