Year 2, Month 8, Day 13: Feel The Burn!

Alaska had a big fire back in 2007. Turns out that it released a f**k of a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, reports the Anchorage Daily News for July 28:

Alaska’s huge Anaktuvuk River tundra fire in 2007 released as much carbon into the atmosphere as Earth’s entire Arctic tundra absorbs in a year, report the BBC and Alaska Dispatch, citing a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Though the 400-square-mile fire’s long-term effects remain uncertain, it may have been a harbinger of things to come in a warmer, drier Arctic, the researchers say. It was the largest tundra fire ever recorded, releasing carbon stored over a period of 50 years and doubling the cumulative area of Alaska tundra burned in smaller fires since 1950.

Sent July 28:

The studies are coming thick and fast, each one providing further evidence of the reality of global climate change. Individually, they demonstrate that different regions all over the planet are already feeling the effects of altered weather patterns: climbing temperatures, more frequent storms, and increased precipitation. Collectively, climatological research irrefutably confirms the urgency of our situation. The University of Florida team’s analysis of carbon emissions from the 2007 Anaktuvuk River tundra fire is sobering not just for people living in the region, but for anyone who’s been paying attention to the positive feedback loops involving droughts and wildfires everywhere on Earth. And yet denialists are still desperately spinning away each piece of scientific evidence as the work of a worldwide liberal conspiracy. Their paranoid fantasies are no longer amusing; when it comes to climate change, the ignorance of the few is a grave danger to us all.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 24: Baked Alaska

The Anchorage Daily News notes that climate change is going to affect Alaska’s National Parks. So far the comments haven’t accumulated much in the way of stupidity. I wonder how long that’ll last.

Sent February 15:

It is ironic that Alaska owes much of its income stream to the same corporate forces that bankroll climate-change denialism. It’s ironic that Alaska owes much of its income stream to the same corporate forces that bankroll climate-change denialism. Rising global temperatures will devastate Alaska’s National Parks — retreating glaciers, vanishing sea ice, habitat losses and vitiated local ecosystems being just a few examples of what we can expect in the years to come. Once the evidence is too strong to ignore or discount, governments and corporations will have to move to mitigate the damage. Sadly, rapid recovery from environmental destruction on a planetary scale is impossible; scientific assessments of the long-term scope of global warming suggest that we may well be dealing with rising temperatures for centuries to come. With gradual changes of the sort found in the long-term historical record, there has been time for populations and ecosystems to adapt; the transformations effected by the greenhouse effect, however, are the environmental equivalent of driving into a wall at 100 mph. Climate-change denialists, meanwhile, are telling us we don’t even need to fasten our seat belts.

Warren Senders

Month 12, Day 4: She Did WHAT?

The Juneau Empire (AK) runs an AP article on a just-issued report on Alaska’s strategy for preparing itself to deal with climate change. Buried in the article is this gem:

The report is an outgrowth of an effort launched by former Gov. Sarah Palin, who formed a climate change task force to prepare a climate change strategy for Alaska.


As if we needed another demonstration of the disconnect between political “reality” and the facts of the world, along comes the news that Alaska’s Fish and Game Department has been working to quantify the effects of climate change on the state’s wildlife. While the Department remains mum on the causes of this change (pssst! It’s human beings and their increasing emissions of greenhouse gases!) they have taken the brave step of acknowledging that the phenomenon exists and will have grave consequences for Alaska’s natural resources. It is thought-provoking to realize that this report is the outcome of a process initiated by former Governor Palin, who appeared to recognize climate change as a threat in her bureaucratic incarnation while vociferously denying it in her role as Tea Party rabblerouser. Even the willfully ignorant will eventually recognize global warming’s dangers — by which time they may be too late to protect themselves.

Warren Senders