In late June, due to glaciers melting at unprecedented rates, the side of a mountain nearly a mile high in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park, which had formerly been supported by glacial ice, collapsed completely. The landslide released over 100 million tons of rock, sending debris miles across a glacier beneath what was left of the mountain.
This is something that has been happening more often in recent years in the northernmost US state. While Alaska's local conservative media often tend to feign ignorance of the cause of such phenomena, what's causing it is all too clear. The state has been hitting and surpassing record temperatures over the last year, and the same can be said for the globe. It's plainly obvious why ice is melting at record rates.
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Mountains that have been largely covered by glaciers for eons are losing their ice cover and the soggy, unstable land underneath is giving way. The landslides are usually large enough to cause seismic tremors and sometimes, when close enough to the ocean, tsunamis.
Also in June, Arctic sea ice had melted down to a record low, with 29,000 miles of it disappearing each day. By month's end, the sea ice was 100,000 square miles below the previous record for June -- set just six years ago -- and more than half-a-million square miles below the 1981-2010 long-term average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Excepting March, every single month of this year thus far has set a new record low for ice cover in the Arctic.
To Alaskans, at least those who are not making a living off the oil industry that dominates the state's financial and political economies, the evidence before them is impossible to ignore.
That last sentence is key.
The first Alaskans to start making a stink about climate change up here, after the scientists of course, were the rural natives whose subsistence lifestyles were the first to feel the impact of melting ice, changing migration routes, and unpredictable weather patterns.
But these days the changes are so obvious that you would have to be an idiot on the level of a Palin not to recognize that stepping outside your house is akin to being transported thousands of miles away into an environment that is only minimally reminiscent of the place where those of us living here in the 1970's and 80's knew to be our home.
It is likely much too late do anything to significantly impact the changes that are only right now starting to come our way, but doing nothing means we have failed to recognize the fact that we have an obligation as residents of this planet to contribute to its survival.
Sorry scratch that, the planet will be fine. It is OUR survival that we need to be concerned about.
Perhaps that is enough to kick start our desire for self preservation so we can start voting some of these Koch sucking Republicans out of office and replacing them with politicians who see the big picture and will vote for policies to dramatically reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and start spending some serious money on renewable energy sources.
At least one would hope.