Call to act on climate at Anchorage GLACIER conference

Alaskans greet President Obama / Image by Clark Mishler of
Alaskans greet President Obama / Image by Clark Mishler of
Service members and Air Force One in Alaska / Image by Clark Mishler
Service members and Air Force One in Alaska / Image by Clark Mishler

It’s impressive when President Obama visits your home base— Anchorage. And you know something important is happening when two cabinet members, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, top level white house officials, foreign dignitaries, Alaskan Republican senators, and rural Alaskan officials all converge. It’s CLIMATE CHANGE.

The Department of State hosted the GLACIER conference in Anchorage, Alaska on August 31st 2015. GLACIER, the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience, acknowledged Alaska’s front line position experiencing the rapid warming of the Arctic; average Arctic temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average. Conference session presentations detailed the current environmental stresses on Alaska and the world, and what the future might bring if we don’t stop carbon emissions now.

During his speech at the GLACIER conference President Obama remarked “Few things will disrupt our lives as profoundly as climate change. Few things can have as negative an impact on our economy as climate change.” He stated “Already it’s changing the way Alaskans live. And considering the Arctic’s unique role in influencing the global climate, it will accelerate changes to the way that we all live.”

President Obama arrives in Alaska / Image by Clark Mishler
President Obama arrives in Alaska / Image by Clark Mishler

“I’ve come here today, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating this problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it. And I believe we can solve it.” Obama reaffirmed that the United States will reduce carbon emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and will aim to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Upcoming this December, Paris will host international climate negotiations at COP21, Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Meanwhile take a look at Frontier Scientists videos highlighting some of the main concerns of GLACIER conference participants: sea ice loss, permafrost thaw, and unprecedented fires.

Sea Ice » Sea Ice Thickness video

“Since 1979, the summer sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by more than 40 percent— a decrease that has dramatically accelerated over the past two decades.” ~ President Obama

Photochemistry » Thermokarst: Melting Permafrost at Wolverine Lake video

“If we do nothing, temperatures in Alaska are projected to rise between six and 12 degrees by the end of the century, triggering more melting, more fires, more thawing of the permafrost.”
“Thawing permafrost destabilizes the earth on which 100,000 Alaskans live, threatening homes, damaging transportation and energy infrastructure, which could cost billions of dollars to fix.” ~ President Obama

Climate Change Watch » Fire In Alaska video

“Many of the fires burning today are actually burning through the permafrost in the Arctic. So this permafrost stores massive amounts of carbon. When the permafrost is no longer permanent, when it thaws or burns, these gases are released into our atmosphere over time, and that could mean that the Arctic may become a new source of emissions that further accelerates global warming.” ~ President Obama

Frontier Scientists: presenting scientific discovery in the Arctic and beyond