The Real Threat to Alaska’s Energy Future?
One of the most worrisome issues of our time is climate change. Recent research shows that the Arctic is shrinking at a rapid rate due to global warming. This process will continue as the earth continues to heat up. In fact, some scientists believe that we may be already losing the Amazonian rain forest to this rapid thaw. Global warming has also threatened to melt the Alaskan glacier, which could lead to catastrophic floods in Alaska.
Global warming has also threatened to melt permafrost in Alaska’s famous Alaskan economy. Permafrost is an frozen layer that forms in the tundra around the soil. It is usually thick enough to resist melting, but it is starting to melt as temperatures rise. With permafrost gone, the ocean, once an abundant source of nutrients for the soil, will have no way to deliver its food supply. This could prove to be extremely devastating to Alaskan fisheries that depend on the coastal sea ice for their lakes and fishing.
Alaska is not the first place in the world to suffer from this rapidly changing climate. Rapid global warming is also threatening to destroy the livable lands of Africa. Meanwhile, the Amazon’s wetlands are in danger of being destroyed by this latest bout of global warming. All these points only show how serious this problem is.
Global warming is believed to be one of the leading contributors to permafrost melt. Permafrost is a type of soil that can only be accessed by people living in the region. Permafrost thaws as the temperature warms up. The soil is thawed, allowing methane gas and greenhouse gases to escape into the atmosphere. In turn, this causes global warming, which further causes the permafrost to disappear. As permafrost disappears, the area affected becomes unforgiving and unsuitable for farming and other industries.
Another threatening aspect of this global warming phenomenon is its impact on Alaskan agriculture. permafrost thaws out and starts to erode the soil, thus destroying the soil structure. Without this soil structure, the Alaskan agricultural industry will become unproductive. Also, global warming has caused the ocean to release more heat, which makes the temperatures of the ocean’s water warmer. This effect brings with it the risk of flooding.
Global warming has also made animals migrate to areas with higher temperatures. They survive in these warmer regions longer because they can adapt to the new environment. However, at some point, the animals will have to adapt to the new climate change, or die off completely.
If the Alaskan economy gets hit with this extra burden, the state government will have to do something about it. But the question is how. Will the federal government force companies in the oil and gas sector to build new infrastructure in more arable land so that it can be used to supply the world with energy? Or will the federal government insist that oil companies drill for more fossil fuel in less productive soil and then ship their used crude to refineries in the United States where it can be refined and shipped around the world? Or will the Obama administration simply sit by and allow the world to worsen its current problem with climate change while making excuses? Some are hopeful, but others are not so sure.
Some say that Alaskan’s decision to develop clean coal technology could be seen as a step towards combating climate change, albeit an ineffective one. Others see it as an obvious sign that Alaska has already lost whatever remained of its economy and will not recover anytime soon. Will Alaska’s leadership finally grow up and realize that pursuing a pro-carbon energy solution is not only the right thing to do, but also a smart way to keep our planet healthy? Only time will tell.
Climate change threatening Canada’s permafrost
There’s another piece to the climate change puzzle that Canadians must confront.
Few countries in the world have permafrost, but Canada has four million square kilometres of it.
Warmer temperatures in the Arctic are thawing permafrost – which accounts for 40 per cent of this country’s surface.
And that big melt is releasing carbon that has been locked away for centuries. Not only that – life is being disrupted in these remote northern communities.
Eric Sorensen explains more.
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