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Tuesday, November 21, 2017
HomeAlaska NewsWalker says climate change harms Alaska’s military readiness — huh?

Walker says climate change harms Alaska’s military readiness — huh?

Muir Inlet, 1941 at top, and 2004 on the bottom.

Everyone loves talking about the weather. And everyone loves talking about Donald Trump.

Yesterday, The Donald gave them a chance to talk about both.

What did Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska talk about? “Climate change [blah blah] military readiness in Alaska.” It was mystifying.

Trump on Thursday announced the U.S. is on its way out of the Paris climate agreement. It had been foreshadowed for months, so it was not a surprise. This is a president who is trying to do what he said he’d do when he ran for the nation’s highest office.

The criticism from the Left was immediate and howling. There’s no need to review it here, but it’s worthy noting that former President Barack Obama took instant exception to the undoing of his climate change handiwork.

Obama said this was America “vacating its leadership role” on the world stage and that it will hurt the country economically and politically.

John Kerry, Obama’s secretary of state, came out blazing, saying Trump turned his back on “humanity’s most existential crisis.”

“The President who promised ‘America First’ has taken a self-destructive step that puts our nation last,” Kerry said. “This is an unprecedented forfeiture of American leadership which will cost us influence, cost us jobs, and invite other countries to walk away from solving humanity’s most existential crisis.”

“Vacating leadership.” “Unprecedented forfeiture.” “Existential crisis.”

In fact, the climate accord that Barack Obama signed was never binding. It was never a good deal for America. It never amounted to a hill of beans. The Paris Accord was climate theater.

“If the decision shows he is more mindful of American economic interests than they are, the other virtue of pulling out is to expose the fraudulence of this Potemkin village,” noted the Wall Street Journal.

The “vacating of leadership” argument is also a ruse. America has never been about letting the rest of the world decide who we are or what we are. The U.S. already has a good record of reducing greenhouse gases, and it was all done without an international agreement. We need others to come up to speed. And we need our innovation to kick into high gear, which American businesses can do and have done.

“I don’t think we’re going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce those emissions in the future either, so hopefully people can keep it in perspective,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

That “keeping it in perspective” was unlikely in this litmus test era in which we live: Either you’re for the planet or against it, and the Paris Accord is the dividing line for the environmental industry and the rest of working Americans.

Alaska’s delegation in Washington was more circumspect than the environmental lobby.

Sen. Dan Sullivan said the accord “significantly disadvantaged the U.S. economy and American families and workers relative to other nations, especially China.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that an accord wasn’t necessary to continue the work of stabilizing the climate.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker disembarks Air Force One with former President Barack Obama, in August of 2015 in Anchorage.

Then then we come to Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, who issued the most enigmatic statement of the day:

“Alaska is the United States’ only Arctic state. In spite of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate accord today, Alaska will continue to work to boost national defense and security measures for our 6,640 miles of Alaskan coastline, increase resilience for Arctic communities, and provide energy leadership for the nation.” [Italics ours]

In two sentences, Walker said that in spite of the withdrawal, Alaska will work on national defense and provide energy leadership, although that phrase has no more meaning than the accord itself.

Just a day earlier, he was applauding the possible production of more oil in Alaska, when Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke had signed a secretarial order to open up more federal land that the Obama Administration had put on ice in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska.

Yesterday Walker said, “I applaud Secretary Zinke for removing the obstacles so that Alaska can play a greater role in securing the nation’s energy dominance.”

Now, Walker refers to a vague “energy leadership.”

Trump is indeed calling for energy “dominance,” and that’s where we’re heading for the next four to eight years — providing more oil to the world and to our own economy. Not less oil. Growing a stronger economy. Not a weaker one.

Walker continued: “Alaskans know that our landscape is changing at an accelerating pace. We are experiencing social and economic upheaval caused by shrinking sea ice, rising sea level, increasing intensity of storms, and increasing coastal erosion. Alaska communities such as Shishmaref, Kivalina, and Newtok are literally washing into the ocean.”

This is interesting. Is Walker really blaming all of our social and economic ills on the 1.3 degree change the earth has experienced in the past 100 years? We see some shorelines being eroded in Alaska, while other shorelines are rising due to isostatic rebound (glacier weight rebound). In some areas of Alaska, the land is rising so fast out of the ocean that surveys are inaccurate after only a couple of years.

“The land is ascending so fast that the rising seas — a ubiquitous byproduct of global warming — cannot keep pace. As a result, the relative sea level is falling, at a rate ‘among the highest ever recorded,’- 2007 report by a panel of experts convened by Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau.” – New York Times, 2009

Someone call Bruce Botelho and tell him about the “existential crisis.”

Is Alaska really seeing an increasing intensity of storms? There is no proof given for that statement on the State’s climate change information page. Only speculation and a lot of broken links.

If anything, Alaska is experiencing milder winters and we’re using less fuel to heat our homes. Well, except for this winter, which was more like the old days, when we just talked about the weather.

“Erosion threatens remote radar sites essential to maintaining control of U.S. airspace when it is most needed to detect and counter Russian incursions. Melting permafrost imperils military installations in Interior Alaska.  Easier maritime and air access to Alaska creates homeland security and defense threats,” Walker said.

Ah, bring on the Russians, the old Red Scare. Climate change will put us at risk of the Ruskies. Worth taking a look, but this is truly an imaginative stretch.

“International military interest demonstrates the importance of the Arctic and subarctic in planning our nation’s defense strategies. We stand ready to assist the Trump Administration in achieving the goal of protecting Americans, their communities, and their way of life,” Walker concluded.

And what a “stand ready,” “way of life”conclusion for Gov. Walker’s tortured statement that ends up signifying nothing. Just like the Paris Accord.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • 100 dollar Bill is just upset coz he hasn’t figure out how to tax climate change yet….

  • “The criticism from the Left was immediate and howling” – “howling” – best description of the progressive left I’ve seen. Love it. Glad Trump got us out of Obama’s contract, and it was a business contract, cost us American jobs and money.

    Also, has Walker had a medical checkup lately? Tested for dementia or ????

  • If Governor Walker is so worried about global warming, then he should abandon HIS obsession with the gas line which will dramatically increase global warming–just more carbon injected into the air. C’mon governor, do your part to decrease global warming/climate change.