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Don Young is a Climate Change Denier

Rep. Don Young
Alaska

"I think this is the biggest scam since the Teapot Dome."

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What climate change means for Alaska

  • Sea ice has declined dramatically in the Arctic in the past few decades and is projected to disappear entirely. The loss of sea ice changes ecosystems, opening the door to invasive species, and alters habitat and plankton blooms, affecting Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, which leads the United States in the value of its catch. Ocean acidification caused by carbon pollution further damages fisheries, and coastal storms increase risks to villages and fishing fleets. Much like wetlands, landfast ice—the ice that is attached to the shore—protects communities from flooding and erosion from storms. With the loss of landfast ice, the rate of erosion along Alaska’s northeastern coastline has doubled over the past 50 years and several coastal villages, such as Newtok, have had to be relocated. Changes in sea ice are having dramatic impacts on traditional ways of life, and on fish and marine animals. Hotter, drier summers have made wildfires more common. The area burned in North America's northern forests, which span Alaska and Canada, tripled between the 1960s and 1990s. Thawing permafrost damages roads, runways, water and sewer systems, and other infrastructure.
  • Along Alaska's northwestern coast, increased coastal erosion is causing some shorelines to retreat at rates averaging tens of feet per year. Warming is contributing to the loss of protective sea ice along Alaska's northwestern coast, leading to increased rates of coastal erosion. In Shishmaref, Kivalina, and other Alaska Native Villages, erosion has caused homes to collapse into the sea. Severe erosion has forced some Alaska Native Villages' populations to relocate in order to protect lives and property.
  • Many of Alaska's highways are built on permafrost. When permafrost thaws, roads buckle. In the past 30 years, the number of days when travel is allowed on the tundra has decreased from 200 days to 100 days per year.
  • Over the past 50 years, temperatures across Alaska increased at a rate twice the national average—3.4°F overall and an average of 6.3°F during the winter.

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