Climate change in Alaska
Several prominent senators were recently in Alaska to talk with local residents about the effects of climate change. From an article at
Fresh from a trip to Barrow, America's northernmost city, McCain said anecdotes from Alaskans and residents of the Yukon Territory confirm scientific evidence of global warming.
"We are convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicated that climate change is taking place and human activities play a very large role," McCain said.
McCain, accompanied by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., spoke to villagers in Canada whose spruce trees are being attacked by the northward spread of spruce beetles. On Alaska's northern coast, they met Native Alaskans dealing with melting permafrost and coastal erosion.
Sen. Graham, for example, has been one who in the past has doubted some of the scientific conclusions about the extent of global warming and its consequences, as well as if it is natural or caused by humans. He has resisted any type of legislation that deals with greenhouse emissions, but after his trip he states: "If you can go to the Native people and listen to their stories and walk away with any doubt that something's going on, I just think you're not listening." McCain and Sen. Lieberman are co-sponsoring a new bill that will put some new restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions for industry (this will be, of course, independent of the Kyoto Protocol that much of the world has signed). Even if humans are responsible for a small percentage of the global climate change (and there are mountains of studies and evidence that show we are at least partly to blame), it is vital to actually do something about it while we can have an impact on the problem.
It is encouraging to see some leading Republicans finally step out and look at real situations and direct evidence of what is happening in many parts of the world, and begin hinting that they will break from the traditional position of following industry's every demand and hoping that a volunteer environmental policy will magically work...it obviously has not.