Alaska’s Democratic senator is upset that new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell left his home state off the 25-member Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science.
Sen. Mark Begich protested that Alaska “ground zero” for global warming.
“Over the past 50 years, Alaska temperatures have increased nearly 4 degrees; twice the warming rate in the Lower-48 over the same period,” Begich wrote to Jewell yesterday.”The impacts of this warming are widespread: thawing permafrost is impacting our transportation systems, warm weather species are appearing on our lands and in our waters, and severe storms are eroding the beaches on which many of our coastal villages are built.”
But it’s not all bad. “Climate change is also opening the Arctic to new resource development, shipping and tourism opportunities,” he added. “Virtually every federal department is currently engaged in some aspect of reviewing and devising contingency plans for a warming Arctic.”
“We understand the Department of the Interior undertook a modest effort to generate interest in the Advisory Committee, but did not contact my office, which would have been glad to help,” the senator continued.
“The failure to include any of the scores of knowledgeable Alaskans, who are experts in the impacts of climate change, in America’s only Arctic state just doesn’t make sense.”
Secretary of State John Kerry goes to the Sweden next week for the Arctic Council meeting. Ministers will sign the Arctic Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Agreement, the second legally binding agreement among the Arctic States, after the 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, and the Kiruna Declaration, according to the State Department.