Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Alaska’s Got Climate Solutions

Alaska, the state warming twice as fast as the rest of the nation, is a canary in the coalmine for climate disruption. Across the state, the effects of climate change are being experienced – some areas much more poignantly and life altering than others.

Release of the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Fourth National Climate Change reports, place Alaska in the crosshairs of climate change. Both spell out, in no uncertain terms, that our civilization has little more than a decade to reign in greenhouse gas emissions or face a series of cascading ecosystem and economic collapses.

These reports verify that the unsettling changes we Alaskans are experiencing are part of a global problem - one that every state and nation must confront with conviction and vigor.

‘Learned Helplessness’ is defined as: a state in which nothing a person opts to do affects what is happening. It is the quitting or the give up response that follows the conviction that whatever a person does doesn’t matter.  The term was initially used to label the failure of certain laboratory animals to escape or avoid shock, despite giving an opportunity, subsequent to earlier exposure to unavoidable shock.

To hear many Alaskans, including people who study the climate system, postulate, one might be led to think that Alaska is left to eek out a living until the last drop of oil and puff of gas is gone; we must just hunker down and passively take the brunt of climate change with little or no hope of being part of the solution.  Following this status quo, business-as-usual model is to admit defeat and allow ‘learned helplessness’ to be our guide.   

We wholeheartedly reject this fate!  

Climate change is a historic opportunity for Alaska to transform, diversify and expand a robustly more sustainable new energy economy to the farthest corners of the state while firmly grounding us as a global leader on climate change.   

As the recent 7.0 Earthquake demonstrates, Alaskan’s got talent when it comes to dealing with natural disaster; we are tough and resilient and innovative and that translates into Big Climate Change solutions, some right in front of our noses.  

Alaska has renewable energy potential other regions of the world only dream about. We have world-class wind, tidal, hydro, geo-thermal, biomass and even great solar potential, for much of the year. Alaska has unique geographic and hydrological features, which allow us to hoard renewable energy in liquid reservoirs during times of surplus and then release that energy back out in the winter when our energy demands increase. We have world class expertise in climate science, rural micro-grids, cold-climate infrastructure design and relocation engineering, and much, much more. 

Our captors - the oil and gas industry, their lobbyists, and government officials – would like you to believe that our only salvation will come from more fossil fuel extraction. Even if the threats from climate change and ocean acidification did not exist, this would not be true. Our remaining oil is no longer worth enough to save us. It’s time to break free from our collective Stockholm Syndrome, address the very real threats of climate change and embolden the industries of the future.  

Bjorn Olson & Ceal Smith
Printed on 12.16.18, Alaska Daily News 

Kodiak Island, AK 100% renewable energy microgrid

Bjorn Olson is an award winning film-maker, author, Native Alaskan living in Homer, and founder of Alaskan’s Know Climate Change.

Ceal Smith, is a Conservation Biologist and consultant living in Eagle River, and founder of the Alaska Climate Action Network. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wondering where to find Alaska's Climate Change Action Leadership Docs?

As Alaska rocks on the front lines of climate change, its highly disturbing to see one of Governor Dunleavy's first acts was to delete Governor Walker's Climate Change Action Leadership Recommendations (CALT) from the state website (we tried again just to make sure and got this error message).   

Rightfully outraged, our friends at Cook Inletkeepers launched a petition calling on Dunleavy to "return the Climate Change Task Force information and action plan documents to the official state website".  SIGN here.

We have great respect for many of the knowledgeable, hard-working, dedicated members of the CALT.  The Leadership Team's recommendations are a start, especially when combined with the more thoroughly vetted 2009 recommendations from the Palin Administrations sub-cabinet on Climate Change (also removed from the state website), but they don't go far enough.

You can read why we think this is true in our draft comments to the CALT draft here.

We think the recommendations are milk toast in part because of the expected heavy influence of oil and gas industry on the CALT and behind the scenes.  Read more about that here.  

That said, in the meantime of wondering and waiting for Governor Dunleavy to do the right thing, you can download the two CALT final recommendation reports* HERE.  

* I. Climate Change ACTION PLAN recommendations to the governor


We also saved most of the CALT draft and supporting documents. If you would like them, email and we will happily share them with you. 

Update on the AKCAN investigation into Alaska oil and gas emissions

A recent Alaska Institute for Climate & Energy investigation of oil and gas industry emissions revealed that industry is flaring or vent...