Alaska is on the front line in terms of getting clobbered by an off kilter climate.

That’s the conclusion of a national scientific report from the Trump Administration and a report from the University of Alaska Anchorage that estimates consequences of climate change will cost the state between $340 and $700 million per year over the next three to five decades.

Report co-author Matthew Berman told Alaska’s Energy Desk that the dollar figures are “almost certainly” an underestimate and don’t capture the large disparity between costs to urban and rural Alaska.

 “It’s not surprising that people in urban Alaska are not as concerned about climate change as people in rural  Alaska.  I mean we all see it, but we enjoy the better weather. We don’t worry about our homes — the ground under our homes sinking and our home turning into a pond.”

 

Damage to infrastructure and rural communities as permafrost thaws and coastlines erode will cause some of the biggest costs.

The report says rural Alaskans also will be disproportionately hurt by changes to subsistence harvests and reduced barge service due to rivers becoming too shallow.

It also includes impacts to Alaska’s fisheries from warming waters and ocean acidification.

Meanwhile, the web page with the state’s new climate change policy has been removed.

A climate change task force appointed a year ago by former governor Bill Walker has gotten a snub from the new administration.

Governor Mike Dunleavy is on record saying the state has more important issues to deal with.

Dunleavy has often stated that “Alaska is not really a smoke stack state and our contribution to climate change is probably minimal,” so no action is needed.

 Matthew Berman cautions otherwise –

“Even though we don’t know what the consequences are, it could be fairly substantial. In a sense…this is a massive uncontrolled experiment on people’s livelihoods. We really don’t know what is going to happen.”

Thanks to the assist from Elizabeth Harball at Alaska’s Energy Desk.   

 

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