Sunday, December 13, 2009

Alaska must face ''climate refugees'' scenario in next 300 to 500 years, maybe sooner!

Alaska must face ''climate refugees'' scenario

by Dan E. Bloom

[Dan E. Bloom is a former editor of the Capital City Weekly who has been
living in Aisa since 1991. He can be reached at]

In two recent international news articles about climate change ("How
much more proof is needed for people to act" and
"Ignoring the future -- the psychology of denial,"),
the importance of facing major issues that will confront the future of
the human species were emphasized. Climate change is indeed an issue
that is on everyone's mind today, and while Juneau seems to be far
removed from the experts who recently made their way to Copenhagen to
try to hammer our blueprints to prevent global warming from having a
Doomsday inpact on humankind, Alaska will be on the front lines of
these issues.

Despite most observers thinking that solutions lie in mitigation
ideas, there are a growing number of climatologists and scientists who
believe that the A-word -- adaptation -- must be confronted head-on,
too. The fact is, despite the head-in-the-sand protestations of
climate denialists like Marc Morano in Washington or former Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin in Anchorage, that
we cannot stop climate change or global warming.

The Earth's
atmosphere has already passed the tipping point, and in
the next 500 years, temperatures will rise considerably, sea levels
will rise considerably and millions, even billions, of people from the
tropical and temperate zones of the Earth will be forced to migrate
north in search of food, fuel and shelter. This is where Alaska, and
Alaskans, will play a central role.

the year 2500, Alaska will be home to millions of climate refugees
from the Lower 48 and Central and South America who will have migrated
north is search of food, fuel and shelter, seeking safe harbor from
the devastating impact of global warming in those future times.

Many parts of the Alaskan coastline will be under water, and Juneau
will find itself home to new kinds visitors from the Lower 48 and
beyond. They won't be coming on cruise ships or airplanes, since there
will be no fuel for such services. They will be coming by road on foot
and bicycle. Prepare yourselves.

Alaska must be prepared for the worst case scenario.
By 2500, millions, billions of people will have been forced to leave
their home countries in the tropical and temperate zones and migrate
north en masse to
faraway northern
regions to find shelter in United Nations-funded climate refuges in
places such as Alaska, yes, and Russia and Canada, too. People from
India, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the
Philippines will make their way to Juneau and further north to
Anchorage and Fairbanks. It won't be a pretty picture.

When this reporter asked acclaimed British scientist
James Lovelock if such a
scenario for Alaska was likely, he said in an email: "It may very well
happen, yes."

We humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming, although
scientists who believe in geo-engineering have offered their theories
on how to do it. There are no easy
fixes. Humankind has put too
many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the result of the
industrial revolution that gave us trains, plans and automobiles --
and much more more to live comfortable and trendy lives -- and
now there is so much CO2 in the atmosphere that the Earth cannot

Forget trying to be more "green" in our
daily lives. Alaska, like the rest of the world, is now
doomed to a very bleak future. There will be millions of climate refugees
seeking shelter in Alaska and Canada (and in
places like New Zealand, Tasmania and Antarctica in the far south as well).

Meetings in Copenhagen and Rio de Janiero and at the UN building in
Manhattan will not stop global warming. What we need to focus on now
is preparing future generations for what our world will
become in the next 500 years and how best to survive it. The Alaska
state legislature needs to start thinking about these issues, too.
There is a very strong possibility that the Northern White House will
be located in Juneau, perhaps taking over the Governor's Mansion
overlooking Douglas Island.

For the next 100 years or so, life
will go on as normal in Juneau, so don't worry too much. There is
nothing to worry about now.
For the next 100 yeares, the local department stores will continue to
hawk their trendy
international computer firms will continue to launch their latest
cellphones and tech gadgets, and airline companies
will continue to offer passengers quick passage here and there, to the
Maldives and to Manhattan, for
business and for pleasure.

But in the next 500 years, according to Lovelock and otther scientists who
are not afraid to think outside the box, things are going to get bad.
Unspeakably bad.

Those of us who are
alive today won't suffer, and the next few generations of humans will be fine,
too. The big "troubles" will probably start around 2200 -- Lovelock says
sooner -- and last for some 300
years or so. By 2500, Alaska will be home to the U.S. Congress, the
White House and the Homeland Security Department, and the Lower 48
will be uninhabited, as will the current nations of
Africa, Asia, South America and Europe.

We are entering uncharted waters, and as the waters rise and the
temperatures go up as well, future generations will have some
important choices to make: where to live, how to live, how to grow
food, how to power their climate refugee settlements, how to plan and
how to pray. Alaska will be on the front lines of this new world. The
question is: will Alaska be ready?

No comments: