When President Barack Obama visited Alaska last year, our state stood in the national spotlight. Obama addressed the GLACIER conference, looked at receding glaciers, Eskimo-danced with kids in Dillingham and held a puppy in John Baker’s dog yard in Kotzebue. But beyond the photogenic displays of Alaska, Obama sought to highlight the challenge of our times: to deal with the effects of man-made climate change and to act decisively. At least 35 executive orders issued by Obama deal with climate change. Out of these, one is especially important Alaska. Executive Order 13689 creates the Arctic Steering Committee tasked with enhancing the coordination of national efforts in the Arctic, making clear that challenges are only successfully met by cooperation by all stakeholders, federal, state and local including Alaska Native organizations tribes. Only together can we adapt to a new warming world. But this order along with the Paris climate agreement and other policies that set the nation on a cleaner energy path are likely on the chopping block. President-elect Donald Trump in his 100-day action plan vowed to undo Obama’s executive orders that don’t fit in his worldview. And there is no indication that climate change is even on the president-elect’s radar screen until floodwaters lick at the gilded elevator doors of Trump Tower or Trump golf courses are flooded by rising seas.
The next president of the USA, the leader of the free world, is also on record for calling climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese and put a known climate change denier in charge of the EPA transition team. As Alaska is experiencing a “crazy” November in terms of unprecedented slow sea ice growth, a president not attuned to the necessities of swiftly acting on the most pressing issue of our time is a liability to mankind.
So, what kind of a deal does Alaska have with president-elect Trump? —D.H.—