• Thomas Enzendorfer

The Nation's Only Arctic State Shows Devastating Effects of Climate Change

Alaska is the U.S.’s only Arctic state and the effects from this summer show devastating consequences of climate change. Alaska is warming faster than any other state, having heated up more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past century — double the global average and parts of the state have warmed even more rapidly in the recent decade. This summer’s heat has transformed Alaska’s landscape and waterways, affecting humans and wildlife alike. These are the effects of fossil fuels and will only continue unless we transition to renewable energy.

This summer, more than 2 million acres have gone up in flames across the state. When fires burn for an extended period in these ecosystems, they can smolder and enter deeper soils, liberating carbon that has been stored for thousands of years. Stores have sold out of fans and ice and moose have been spotted seeking respite in garden sprinklers.

“Usually if you were to break this sort of record, you’d do it by a sliver of a degree,” said Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist and research associate at the International Arctic Research Center. He said that the state is on course to shatter the record by more than one degree Fahrenheit.

The early retreat of sea ice from the Bering and Chukchi seas has led to a jump in sea surface temperatures, altering weather patterns and upending the lives of residents who typically depend on the ice cover for hunting and fishing in Alaska. It’s also affecting native species, including seals and seabirds.

There are also sharp cuts to education funding by Republican governor Dunleavy, which will most likely result in the top scientists leaving Alaska during a time where monitoring the effects of climate change is more important than ever.

Alaska is “ground zero” for climate change, so a look into the devastating effects that are happening now is a look into similar situations all over the Arctic and a glimpse into the global future. It’s time to act on climate change and demand better from our policy makers. See how you can demand action here.

Source: Washington Post

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