Limiting the Causes and Consequences of Climate Change
Alaska is experiencing the impacts of climate change more intensely than the rest of the nation, with changes like melting glaciers, the disappearing ice cap, thawing permafrost, bark beetle infestations, and ocean acidification. Because of Arctic amplification, the most northern latitudes warm at least two times faster than the rest of the world. Despite Alaska’s small population, the state has the highest per capita rate of greenhouse gas emissions. Extraction of fossil fuels for the world’s consumption is Alaska’s biggest contribution to climate change. Global consumption of Alaska’s fossil fuels adds to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to Alaska’s continued meltdown. Keeping Alaska’s coal in the ground and not burned for energy is a priority to halt the climate change cycle.
Lands once thought to be permanently frozen as permafrost are now thawing, causing methane (a potent greenhouse gas) emissions and unforeseen infrastructure degradation. Stored in the frozen ground—as a remediation strategy—are caches of toxic waste left over from abandoned military sites. Many of these dumps are located near Alaska Native communities and traditional-use lands, and thawing releases toxic pollutants into the lands and water that feed these communities.