Jun 25, 2018

Climate Change in an Oil State: Alaska, the Enviro-Paradox


Edited: Jun 26, 2018

Before getting into the topic at hand, a little bit about me: I'm 19 and have lived in Alaska my entire life. I live in a decidedly more urban location, a city of 35,000 people (and the state's capital city). My home, Juneau, is also home to one of the most strident examples of climate change: the Mendenhall Glacier. It's been eroding faster and faster because of a variety of reasons, but researchers agree that the speed at which the glacier is receding is due in part to global warming.


Vexing is the situation Alaska is in when we talk about climate change, because while our state is what many refer to as "the forefront of climate change", we're also funded heavily by industries that contribute most to climate change. Historically, 90% of our general fund budget has been funded by oil revenue, and many argue that our state economy was founded on oil. Alaska residents receive an oil-funded Permanent Fund Dividend every year, while 31 communities are expected to have to relocate due to climate change-caused erosion.


There's much to be said about the climate change discussion, but often I compare Alaska to the rest of the world when it comes to the issue. We're facing a problem that is disproportionally impacting communities around the world, but we continue to pursue projects that are paradoxical to the mission of ensuring for each individual the same means that our forefathers declared America's independence for: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. None of which cannot be had if "the common welfare" is threatened by a changing climate.



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