Over the years, winters have become less magical without the great amount of snow Alaskans are used to having. This winter season, snowfall was about a month late, snowing on Dec. 1, just in time for the holidays.
With the noticeably drastic amounts of changes in the weather over the last decade, there is no doubt that climate change is taking a toll on the state of Alaska.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), temperatures in Alaska have increased more than double the amount in the United States, leading to changes in the ecosystem, permafrost, oceans and coasts, and forming new challenges for Native Alaskans.
“Arctic temps are rising, the Arctic’s glue permafrost is melting, leaving cracks in the ice, our glaciers have been getting noticeably smaller and ocean levels rising,” Ali Strover, economics major said. “I worry about the Native communities, the threats that global warming poses to them, our ecosystems and resources.”
Fulbright Distinguished U.S. Arctic Chair, Dr. Jeff Welker, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UAA specializes in arctic ecology and climate change.
“Alaska has been one of those places in which climate is really being manifested today. As we speak, most notably is that the arctic is tremendously warmer right now than it ever has been at this time of year, there is no sea ice on the coast of Alaska, and the arctic is up to 20 degrees warmer for this time of year than ever recorded,” Welker said.
10 years ago, during this time of year, many can remember the couple feet of snow that replaced the grass during the winter. Global warming has changed from snowy winters to rain and ice.
“As a kid, I remember being able to walk in my backyard during any winter month and build a snowman,” Byron Lowe, marketing and management major said. “Just look outside of your windows, and there is barely any snow on the ground, it is unfortunate that children in Anchorage will not be able to experience a childhood that involves being able to perform recreational activities that involve snow.”
Winter is not the only season that is being affected by climate change. Every summer, many residents anticipate forest fires resulting from high temperatures and dry conditions.
“In Alaska alone, we can count our many new forest fires during our dry summers,” Strover said.
These are just some of the effects climate change has had in Alaska and will continue to have until there is a social awakening about this issue. Even with scientific studies and noticeable changes in weather showing effects of climate change, there are individuals who do not believe global warming is taking place. One individual in particular is the President-elect Donald Trump.
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump said in a tweet from Nov. 6, 2012.
“Trump declaring China is responsible for the rumor of climate change to make us non-competitive makes me want to puke, nothing about that statement is thoughtful, kind, or holding any reason,” Strover said.
There are many statements made by Trump stating his disbelief in climate change. “Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air – not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense,” Trump said in another tweet on Jan. 28, 2014.
“I feel worried about people who do not believe in global warming,” Lowe said. “The first thing that pops into my mind is that those who don’t believe it either do not care about the earth or are choosing to ignore any signs because they are afraid to accept the truth.”
Since Trump does not believe in climate change or chooses to ignore this issue, it is unclear what that means for the future of the U.S. Trump and other individuals may need further education to convince them that this is a serious matter that needs to be addressed.
“I think that one of the things that we can do is educate people on what the scientific community has been observing over the last 50 through 100 years so that they can be better informed about the current status of planet earth,” Welker said. “It would be very possible that President-elect Trump could be better informed about the science of planet earth including [the] chemistry of its atmosphere and changes over his lifetime and changes over the time periods back tens of thousands of years.”
Until everyone is on the same page concerning climate change, there will continue to be negative affects on earth. There may not be a quick fix for this issue, but one step at a time can ultimately change the future of this planet.
“The most important thing that we can do today to stabilize the earth’s climate and weather is to find ways to curtail our energy use, everything from driving fuel efficient vehicles to supporting green energy, especially wind solar and tide in a technology necessary to allow renewables to replace petroleum based products as our source of energy as a global community,” Welker said.
The fate of Alaska, the United States and especially the world, is uncertain. Climate change will continue to do damage until citizens of earth come together and figure out a solution to prevent further harm. There are drastic signs of climate change in Alaska that are hard to ignore. There is no doubt that if climate change continues, Alaska will resume facing negative effects in the future.