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Global Warming: Making Solutions Locally Accessible (Alaska)

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  • Mike Neuman
    Wednesday, 8 November 2006 GLOBAL WARMING: MAKING SOLUTIONS LOCALLY ACCESSIBLE by Deborah L. Williams and Heather Benz * NEW HAVEN, USA (IPS) - Americans
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 8, 2006
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      Wednesday, 8 November 2006

      by Deborah L. Williams and Heather Benz *

      NEW HAVEN, USA (IPS) - Americans throughout the country are becoming
      increasingly concerned about global warming. According to a recent
      Zogby poll, 74 percent are more convinced today that global warming
      is a reality than two years ago.

      Now, we want to know what to do to about it, especially how to reduce
      our emissions and become effective advocates. Individuals want
      solutions that are relevant to where we live, straightforward,
      accessible, and easy to implement. With this goal in mind, Alaska
      Conservation Solutions (ACS) unveiled a new global warming Website in
      September 2006, available online at

      Like many places throughout the world, Alaska is experiencing
      numerous adverse impacts from global warming. Because the annual
      average temperature in Alaska has warmed over 4 degrees F in the last
      50 years, these effects are pervasive in America's largest and most
      northern state. Alaskan communities are losing valuable
      infrastructure to erosion and melting permafrost, and at least three
      communities will have to be moved in the next 10 to 15 years, costing
      hundreds of millions of dollars.

      Lakes are drying; forests of yellow cedar, white spruce and larch are
      dying; and polar bears are drowning and may be turning to
      cannibalism. Sea ice is thinning and retreating, threatening Alaska
      Native subsistence activities and ice dependent species. The Yukon
      River alone has warmed 10 degrees Fahrenheit (F) in the last 25
      years, resulting in a new, serious disease, Icthyophonus, which is
      infecting 45 percent of the river's Chinook salmon population. Global
      warming is even adversely affecting oil and gas exploration,
      production and transportation in Alaska, as well as resulting in
      buckling highways and bike paths.

      All of these effects are costly and disruptive, but they are just the
      proverbial melting tip of the iceberg. If global warming continues
      its accelerating trend because of increased human emissions of
      greenhouse gases, Alaska is projected to warm as much as 25 degrees F
      by the end of the century. A common response to this is: "what can we
      do?" "How can we help?"

      These questions especially arise after people understand that "Human
      activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuelsÂ…have increased the
      concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, and other heat-trapping
      gases in the atmosphereÂ…There is an international scientific
      consensus that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is
      attributable to human activities," as noted in the 2004 Arctic
      Climate Impact Assessment report.

      The impacts from global warming in Alaska are amplified, but not
      unique. On a weekly basis scientists and others are documenting the
      costly, adverse effects from global warming on other states and
      countries. Given this stark reality, what are some actions that
      individuals can take to reduce emissions?

      Some carbon-based energy conservation actions are very
      straightforward and do not require state specific information to
      adopt most easily, such as unplugging appliances when not in use. But
      many actions are more readily implemented with location specific
      information, from bus schedules to locations where energy efficient
      appliances can be purchased.

      The Alaska Conservation Solutions website features three hands-on

      1) An Alaska-specific carbon calculator,
      2) Scores of practical, highly linked tips for minimizing personal
      carbon emissions throughout the state (the Alaska Carbon Reducer);
      3) Sample advocacy letters for taking action at the local, utility,
      state, and national levels (see the Be Heard section).

      Designed by a team of staff, volunteers, and a gifted intern, the
      goal of the Website is to educate Alaskans about the effects
      individual residents have on the environment through their carbon
      footprint, and to offer simple, straightforward, locally relevant
      methods that can be taken to reduce emissions and often save money.
      Many of these actions are universally applicable to individuals
      throughout the nation and world.

      Personalized by each region of Alaska, the ACS Carbon Calculator
      allows individuals to see how much they contribute to global warming
      by asking a series of simple questions, including vehicle use,
      flights taken each year, and the cost paid each month for
      electricity. The calculations can be easily completed in a few

      In order to be responsive to Alaskans' way of life, the calculator
      also includes questions about snow machine and other off-road vehicle
      use and small airplane use. The calculator also explicitly notes how
      much of a region's electricity is generated from renewable resources,
      an important educational component. The Website computes an
      individual's average annual carbon emissions, while comparing it with
      the Alaska average, and then offers a multitude of suggestions to
      reduce one's personal emissions.

      Many carbon reduction methods on the Website also save money, such as
      lowering one's home thermostat while at work or on vacation.

      Ideas and links for reducing emissions are clustered into three
      categories: Conservation; Energy efficiency; and Renewables.
    • Mike Neuman
      The complete article by Deborah L. Williams and Heather Benz, including photos and figures, is located at:
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 8, 2006
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        The complete article by Deborah L. Williams and Heather Benz, including
        photos and figures, is located at:
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