Saturday, May 05, 2018

Kids Challenge Alaska’s Climate Paradox: Relying on Oil Production as Global Warming Wreaks Havoc

The dangers of climate change are immediate and extreme here, yet most of Alaska's revenue comes from the expanding oil and gas industry.

In coastal Alaska, communities count on winter sea ice to buffer the shore from damaging waves, but the ice is disappearing and erosion is getting worse as the Arctic warms twice as fast as the global average. (Credit: Sabrina Shankman) Click to Enlarge.
When Tasha Elizarde was a young girl, she would climb up a mountain a few miles outside her home in Juneau, Alaska, to a scenic overlook, where she could gaze at the Mendenhall Glacier.

But over the course of her childhood, the glacier began to vanish.  From the time she was 8 until she turned 16, it receded about 1,800 feet.  Now, standing at the same overlook, "we can't even see it anymore," she said.

Now 19 years old, Elizarde has joined 15 other young Alaskans who are suing the state of Alaska for causing climate change and failing to protect the climate for future generations.  They are asking for a science-based energy policy—one that will shift to renewable energy sources and bring greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

These kids live in places where dangerous waves are eating away at the shorelines as the sea ice vanishes; where thawing permafrost is undermining roads; and where the ocean is acidifying and hurting the local seafood industry.

The young plaintiffs in the case are being represented by the nonprofit Our Children's Trust, which is supporting similar cases in other states, as well as a federal case that will head to trial in October.

While the Alaska case mirrors the other lawsuits, it also represents a unique paradox:  In Alaska, not only are the impacts of warming both immediate and extreme, but the state is also contributing to climate change through its continued production of oil and gas.

Read more at Kids Challenge Alaska’s Climate Paradox:  Relying on Oil Production as Global Warming Wreaks Havoc

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