Although President Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax and is pushing for the increased use of fossil fuels, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said yesterday that the impact of climate change in her state “is real, it is happening, it is now, and almost none of these changes are for the better for us.”
The Arctic is “at the front lines” in facing climate change, Murkowski, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in an address at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2018 on Wednesday. Alaska’s North Slope is warming 2.6 times faster than the rest of the country, and the entire state is warming twice as fast as the country as a whole, she said.
Murkowski’s address, in which she said that “emissions must be reduced,” came just 1 day after the lead author of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card warned that the region is undergoing the most unprecedented transition in human history.
Exasperation in Dealing with Some in Congress About Climate Change
In her address, which focused on a broad range of hazards, Murkowski expressed exasperation in dealing with some members of Congress about climate change.
In Congress, “sometimes it’s a hard conversation to have with people who have said, ‘we don’t need to deal with it’ or ‘I don’t know what the issue is,’” Murkowski said. “Well, I can tell you what the issue is: that when the Arctic starts to thaw, that is not good for the planet.”
Murkowski said that she is trying to find common ground with others and “take reasonable steps” to promote innovation and develop cleaner technologies.
A warming Arctic affects Alaska directly, but it also has much wider consequences, she said. “For those of us in the Arctic, we need to have that freezer kept cold. We need it for us, but you all need it for you here in the lower 48,” she said. “For those of you who are from other parts of the world, we all need the Arctic to stay cool.”
Murkowski also praised scientists working on the climate issue. “Those in the science community, you have done an exceptional job in highlighting the dangers and the consequences of climate change.”
Measures to Deal with Other Hazards
In her speech, Murkowski also focused on other hazards that pose threats in her state and elsewhere, including volcanoes and earthquakes. Just 2 weeks ago, on 30 November, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck about 11.3 kilometers (7 miles) north of Anchorage and has been followed by thousands of aftershocks. Fortunately, she noted, the event does not seem to have caused fatalities or major injuries, which Murkowski attributed to the state’s preparedness following the magnitude 9.2 quake that shook Alaska in 1964.
Murkowski said she hopes that several other pieces of hazards legislation—the National Landslide Preparedness Act and the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act—also can become law before the end of the current Congress.
The senator also cautioned about what she said is another threat that needs to be addressed: mineral security. With the country currently importing 50% of its minerals, including 100% of 21 of them, Murkowski said the situation was not good for the economy or national security.
An Advocate for the Geosciences
Murkowski told the audience of Earth and space scientists that they can count on her support on many of their issues. “As you meet today and across the week, know that you’ve got an advocate in me for the geosciences in Congress, a willing partner,” she said. “I welcome your ideas, your input, to address everything from natural hazards to mineral security to climate change.”
—Randy Showstack (@RandyShowstack), Staff Writer