Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore and IPCC win Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize!

That has to feel pretty pretty good for Al Gore in his life as a Climate Change activist, leaving "failed Presidential candidate" behind. The former U.S. Vice President has been awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and shares it with the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change. There were 181 candidates to choose from, but Gore and the IPCC's work to raise awareness of the issues of climate change won out. The $1.5 million dollar prize will be split (amongst the 2,000+/- scientists on the IPCC?). Mr. Gore has announced he will donate his share to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a non-profit focused on the urgency of solving Climate Change.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

National Conversation on Climate Action - Fairbanks

October 4, 2007 at the Noel Wien Library Auditorium, over 50 gathered to participate in the National Conversation on Climate Action in Fairbanks, Alaska. Lori Hanemann, the Local Issues Coordinator at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and member of Mothers for Alaska, organized the Fairbanks Conversation event. She states, "Fairbanks is on the verge of taking the lead in the State on sustainability and Climate Change action. Fairbanks is one of the few cities in the world addressing both mitigation and adaptation. We're living with the impacts and we're strategizing to lead the state in response and solutions. Our Mayor Jim Whitaker is making innovation plans to put us in the national spotlight! I can picture him setting the pace, showing this is a non-partisan issue, right up there beside Governor Schwarzenegger. He speaks powerfully and says loudly, it's okay to be green! That's exciting!"
Newly re-elected Assemblyman Luke Hopkins was the first presenter, and updated the crowd on the recently passed Borough Climate Action Resolution. This resolution and it's five milestones calls for the Borough to begin researching opportunities and reducing emissions for Fairbanks. Part of the resolution discusses the Mayor's Energy Plan, which Mayor Whitaker unveiled to the community. This nine-point plan is exciting and the core is comprised of renewable energy, wind, solar, in-stream hydro, and biomass.
Mike Musick from Cold Climate Housing Research Center was next to get behind the lecturn to discuss several local events coming to Fairbanks. He began by reading the Mayor's proclomation which declared October as National Energy Awareness Month. He announced a Solar Tour of Fairbanks on October 6th and the Northern Shelter Conference on the 27th and 28th of October. Go to to find out the details.
Lori Hanemann introduced the new Global Warming page on the Northern Center's website She intends the page to be a one stop resource for climate change events and news, as well as a home to a thorough list of links to other terrific resources of the local, state, and national level. Paul Klitzke, a Episcopalian Minister from Palmer, and Alaskan leader of Alaska Interfaith Power and Light, addressed the crowd without need of the microphone, and commanded the room with news of the climate change outreach to faith based groups around Alaska. The organization intends to bring their message to Fairbanks, and get the word out to local church leaders. Golden Valley Electric Association's Todd Hoener spoke about the opportunities the Utility offers to reduce your home and business energy needs and discussed the SNAP - renewable energy program. And finally, high school student, Haley Evans, told the remaining audience members about the organization she chairs, FAYEA - Fairbanks Alaska Youth for Environmental Action. This is a teen group of dynamic young people who are taking action and addressing state politicians on issues on climate change and sustainability. They have a Kick Off Party on October 6th at the downtown Alaska Public Lands office on 3nd and Cushman downtown.
The event revealed a slow but gaining momentum towards change - changing how politicians and the public think about Climate. It's no longer an argument about cause and science. Climate change is occuring and will continue to occur. Our state is the poster child, and Fairbanks is beginning to shine it's independence on the rest of the state and think differently, think sustainably and think smarter. This naturally leads to a challenge between Fairbanks and Anchorage to become the leader on taking action. Fairbanks is taking the risks, making huge leaps forward, and planning to maintain the lead into the future. Go Fairbanks!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Check out this article in the Anchorage Daily News

Sarah James, from Arctic Village, has written a nice Compass op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News.
Please click on the link to view her article

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Little Things

Consider these "Little Things" as simple ways to change our behaviors. We are living in the dawn of the Environmental Age, where we must re-think how we do things and be conscious of our carbon footprint. It doesn't mean doing without, it simply means doing differently. These behavior changes usually save you money as well - BONUS!

Computers - Be sure to turn off your computer when leaving it for the night. You can also program your computer to go into sleep mode or hibernate while away from your desk for an extended length of time. Most PC's do this by clicking on Control Panel and choosing Power Options. (I assume Mac's are similar; post a comment if you know). If you're in a large office, see if your IT person can program this from the main computer. Taking a few minutes to set this up, you’ll save 100kWh to 600 kWh per year depending on your computer-use habits. That adds up to between $8.50 and $51.00 a year saved. Screen Savers do not accomplish this energy savings. It's the little things...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Making a difference
by: Lori Hanemann Fickus

photo: one of the trash patrol Axel Snyder, age 4
How do you combat climate change? You do something. Something in your home, something at your job, or something in your community. Selawik is doing something. Selawik is located at the mouth of the
Selawik River where it empties into Selawik Lake,
about 112 km (70 miles) southeast of Kotzebue.

The youth in this community, rallied by Mothers for Alaska member Hannah Loon, have been picking up massive amounts of trash. In June, Hannah stated, "I would like to report that today, we picked 49 bags starting from Native Store to Ingram's. Then we moved to other side to school side on the board walk."

She also said the young people are curious about what else they can do. It is exciting times when mothers around Alaska are going into their communities and creating change. A response to climate change must begin with behavior changes. Each of us must reduce our carbon footprint - how much carbon dioxide we're putting into the atmosphere from home electricity use, driving cars, running snow machines and four-wheelers, and many other actions we need to be aware of. First comes education on what can be done, and then comes the time to change the behaviors - the way we do things.

Picking up trash is a terrific start to helping your community. Residents will appreciate their new beautiful community, and this will reduce litter, and in the long run, perhaps people will use less packaging, reuse items, and reduce how much they buy. Changing their behavior. We can all go out and pick up some trash; who knows where it will take you!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alaska Climate Change Impact Assessment Hearings
Kotzebue, Alaska
by: Lori Hanemann Fickus
The Climate Commission Hearings were held in Kotzebue in June.
Before the actual Hearing, the Commission members toured one of the villages suffering from significant impacts of Climate Change, Kivalina. There they were able to see, in person, what they've been hearing about for months.
Residents of Kotzebue turned out for the important hearing, as well as people from nearby villages. NARF (Native American Rights Fund) once again arranged funding for travel and accommodations to make it possible for several Alaskans to make it Kotzebue to give their account of what's going on in their villages. The emotional and powerful testimonies from the people living their daily lives with these impacts had to sink in (pun intended) to the minds and hearts of the Commission. I am so thankful they are getting out to the rural communities to hear the human element of global warming, in addition to the scientific data they've been gathering. The indigenous knowledge is equally, if not more, important in factoring the impacts.
Northwest Arctic Borough Mayor Siikauraq Martha Whiting was invited to give testimony to the Commission. She provided important details for the Commissions permanent record, and had an interesting idea, "Having an Inupiaq word for it might help convey the urgency". I'm intrigued by the idea of having a word in the major Native Alaskan languages to convey the urgency of the issue. Climate "Change" sounds gradual and un-alarming. What's going on in the Arctic is rapid and urgent. I hope she pursues her idea. She made another good point,
“It’s something that you watch on CNN,” she said, “But it’s something that’s right in our face.”
I hope mothers and the rest of the population in the lower 48 can learn what is happening up here now, will trickle down to them in the near future. The Commission's report is to be turned in January 2008. If you haven't testified already, you can send in your testimony in writing. Please send them to Legislative Staff Tim Benintendi

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Global Global Warming Concert

Live Earth Concert


Live Earth is a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series taking place on 7/7/07 that will bring together more than 100 music artists and 2 billion people to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis.

The concert will be broadcast on NBC, check your local stations. If you don't have television, you can use your computer:

Live Earth concerts will be broadcast to a live worldwide audience by MSN at

The concert will host today's most popular and entertaining musical acts around the world. What a great reason to gather friends at your house or community center for a potluck. There will be lots of Global Warming education and solutions included in the broadcast. So watch, enjoy, and learn!

Host a Live Earth House Party!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Climate Hearings - Kotzebue!!

June 28th, 2007

4:00pm - 6:00pm Public Testimony

Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission

Rural Hearing - Kotzebue

Northwest Arctic Borough Assembly Chambers, Kotzebue, Alaska

Those wishing to testify during the open public comment period must sign up prior to 4:00pm.

Those wishing to submit written testimony may give it to staff at the hearing, or fax it to the number below.

If you wish to mail written comment, please send it to Rep. Ralph Samuels, Chairman, ACIAC, 716 W. 4th Avenue #630, Anchorage, AK 99501-2133.

For those wishing to access the hearing by teleconference, please go to the nearest Legislative Information Office (LIO) and join the hearing. You should request your LIO to schedule the hearing, AHEAD of the hearing on June 28th.

If you are not able to go to an LIO, you may access the hearing by calling the legislative bridge number, (888) 295-4546 and asking for the hearing. You can call in to this number to listen to the hearing, and testify.

n n n

Here is a tentative list of people on the agenda as invited speakers:

Mayor Martha Whiting, Northwest Arctic Borough

Jim Dau, Wildlife Biologist Game Mgmt. Unit 23

Alex Whiting, Member Native Village of Kotzebue

Colleen Swan/Enoch Adams, Kivalina

Brad Reeve, General Mgr. Kotzebue Electric

Tony Weyiouanna, Sr., President Shishmaref Native Corp.

Stanly Tom, Tribal Administrator Village of Newtok

Levi Cleveland, Regional Elders Council

There have probably already been changes to this list additions & substitutions. Send me an email, and I'll update the speakers list. Please let everyone in your area know about the hearing, and how to listen in.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Mothers on National Radio

by Lori Fickus

At 10:00 this morning, I was up on the UAF campus to attend Science Friday, a nationally broadcast radio show on NPR. The host is the thrilling and brilliant Ira Flatow, and he lead today's conversations right where they needed to go. There were four ice/snow scientists on panel for the first hour, and three panelists the second hour who spoke on public health related issues. I had the priviledge to ask a question to the panel, and I chose to speak about Mothers for Alaska.

Here's my attempt at paraphrasing myself, "I'm with a group, Mothers for Alaska, and we are a group of mothers and grandmothers concerned about climate change, mostly from villages in the Arctic of Alaska. We formed our grassroots group specifically to testify before our legislators, and to get out the word we must talk to our representatives. These mothers tell of the impacts of berries boiling in the pods, their coolers in the permafrost, to keep food safe, are melting, and their salmon show up with diseases. My question is this, is there any organized effort to send public health education to the villages regarding climate change?

The response, in short, was no.

Please visit for more information or to listen to the podcast.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Anchorage Daily News Article from April 2007

Natives and scientists state their worries about climate warming
CLIMATE CHANGES: Rural residents feel impact, express concerns to committee.
Published: April 14, 2007 Last Modified: April 14, 2007 at 05:51 AM

The day her toddler son demanded to eat maktak, the skin and fat of the bowhead whale, was unforgettable for Mary Sage, a young Barrow mother.
Keeping the Inupiat culture strong in her children is important to her. But the state's warming climate is throwing a monkey wrench in her family's future, she said Friday.
"How will our children and grandchildren feel when they are not able to hunt these animals anymore?" Sage asked.
All over Alaska, not just along the coastline, residents are noticing that the ice is ebbing -- with direct consequences for anyone digging in the ground, crossing the tundra or venturing out over ice to hunt.
A number of rural Alaskans flew or drove to Anchorage this week to tell their personal stories about a warming Alaska to a state commission the Legislature set up to take stock of climate change's consequences for Alaska.
"Less ice for us means less opportunity for food," Sage told the Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission on Friday.
The 11-member commission also heard from scientists describing how caribou, marine mammals, birds, fish and other species are shifting geographically. Some species could be in trouble due to the warming trend's effects on the availability of their food.
In the Northwest town of Selawik, villagers are worried about winter travel and hunting. Two years ago, the village lost two young girls and one man who fell through ice. The ice was considered safe in previous years, testified Hannah Loon, a part-time University of Alaska student who grew up in the village of about 850 and transmitted the concerns from one of the village's elders to the commission.
Teenagers and college environmentalists from Anchorage and Fairbanks also spoke. Many of the students asked the commission to tell the Legislature and Palin administration to start regulating greenhouse gas emissions in Alaska.
Hazel Apok of Kotzebue told the commission she is worried about less snow in the area surrounding Kotzebue harming future subsistence berry crops.
She shares the berries she gathers with other locals who want it for Eskimo ice cream. "Blueberries also help keep my cholesterol down," she said.
Safe hunting is a big concern in Barrow. With recent years of dramatic loss in the Arctic Sea ice, and scientists predicting more ice loss in the future, hunters and their families have immediate safety concerns, Sage said.
"Multiyear ice is thick and stable and preferred while conducting the spring whaling hunt. Young ice is thin and not so stable," explained Sage, whose husband is co-captain of a whaling crew.
Twice in the past 10 years, shore ice at Barrow became unstable and broke apart, sending about 160 whalers adrift in the Arctic. All of the hunters were rescued, but not all of their snowmachines, she said.
The last time the Barrow whalers had a similar event was in the 1940s.
Sage asked the commission, "How often will this reoccur? Will we be so fortunate as to save every whaler every time this happens? Will the ice be stable enough this year for whaling? How much longer will we be able to continue our traditional spring hunt on the ice?"
She mentioned another perplexing problem for some Barrow whale hunters: Umiaks, the sealskin boats used for spring whaling, are sprouting mold due to warmer weather.
"It is very expensive to change the cover of your umiak," Sage said.
Kathleen Carroll of Fort Yukon and Rita Buck of White Mountain described hitting water instead of permafrost when digging outhouse pits. That didn't happen in the past, they said.
The commission will hold a second public hearing in Anchorage, probably in the fall.
The commission plans to develop a complete overview of the likely impacts of climate change in Alaska and make recommendations to reduce harm.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

House Bill 152 Renewable Energy Fund

The renewable energy fund bill HB 152 <> passed the House unanimously on April 19th.

The next step is the Senate.

Urge your senator to support this bill and let them know you want it to pass by the end of this session. Find your senator's name and contact information here

**TAKE ACTION! /**Now is the time for you to write /*Letters to the Editor*/ and to encourage your own Senator to keep this important priority bill moving this year!

Check out Senator Ellis and Representative Thomas’ excellent Compass piece in last week's ADN, compass piece <>.
submitted by Becky Baird, Northern Alaska Environmental Center

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wonderful Climate Change Editorial

Web posted April 25, 2007 My Turn: Time to act against climate change
With the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change, there is no more pussy-footing around it; greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are creating ecological, economic and social challenges around the world, including Alaska, which is ground zero for global warming.
Warming here in Juneau? With all the snow and the late spring, it hardly feels like global warming. But it is. One of the major symptoms of climate change is more extreme and unpredictable weather patterns. That's why the term "climate change" is a better descriptor of what's going on than global warming.
In Alaska, we hear about climate-change problems everyday. Alaska's northern communities are seeing beach erosion, deep permafrost thaws and receding ice. All this wrecks havoc on infrastructure. In Anchorage, officials report shifting weather patterns are disrupting air travel, a significant issue for such an important transportation hub.
Changes in climate patterns and rising temperatures have caused a significant increase in the frequency of wildfire and intensity, as well as an unprecedented increase in insect outbreaks that increase fuel loads. Alaska witnessed record-setting fire seasons in 2004-05, burning more than 11 million acres and costing more than $160 million to battle. On the Kenai Peninsula and around Anchorage, the spruce bark beetle has cost millions in property damage.
Across rural Alaska, traditional hunting patterns are disrupted as animal movements shift in response to the changing climate. In Bristol Bay, unfamiliar weather patterns and the early arrival of marine mammals are throwing the annual fishing and hunting cycles off. Lake Iliamna is freezing later and later, making travel difficult. Low-lying towns are suffering increased floods, as with Koyukuk's recent floods within the 100-year flood plain.
Commercial and sport fishing, two of Alaska's economic mainstays, are taking hits, too. Temperatures in Kenai Peninsula streams now consistently exceed Alaska's standard to protect salmon-spawning areas. Diseased salmon are common in the Yukon River. The Bering Sea is seeing lower crab productivity as more Arctic ice melts each year. In Southeast Alaska, the 2006 pink-salmon harvest was dramatically lower than expected due in large part to the warm temperatures of 2004, when the parents of the 2006 season would have been affected.
Finally, Gov. Sarah Palin and the Legislature are giving us glimpses of hope and of economic opportunity. Palin's choice to create a climate change sub-Cabinet position to address ways to reduce our contribution to the problem and mitigate its effects is visionary and sensible. This, with the renewable energy development fund (House Bill 152 and Senate Bill 96) currently being considered in the Legislature, will provide some essential tools to address this pressing challenge. These efforts will enable Alaska to join the ranks of other states actively charting a course to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is important to note that many other states found policies addressing climate change were not a burden on commerce. Instead, they presented economic opportunities. Some states are using action on climate change to position themselves in new markets related to climate action: producing and selling alternative fuels, attracting high-tech businesses and selling carbon-reduction credits. Even BP is looking at climate change as a way to make money.
Alaska can do all this and more. Though we are, sadly, the poster state for climate change impacts, we can also be global leaders in finding creative and ingenious ways to work toward solutions, develop renewable energy technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is much to be gained from taking on this challenge.
As Alaskans, we pride ourselves on our ruggedness and our ability to get any job done, no matter how tough. We walked the path to statehood, figured out how to build the oil pipeline, and now climate change is that next grand challenge calling for the best from Alaskans. The time to act is now; let's pass the Renewable Energy Fund before the Legislature heads home in May and get Palin's climate change sub-Cabinet rolling.
• Kate Troll splits her time between Juneau and Anchorage. She is the executive director of the Alaska Conservation Alliance.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Editorial from a "Mother"

by: Lori Fickus Daily Newsminer 4/21/07

Earth Day is time to consider our future
On April 12 and 13, the legislatively appointed Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Hearings were held in Anchorage. I traveled south with a group of mothers -- Mothers for Alaska -- from around the state concerned about climate change to give testimony to the commission about the impacts we are experiencing.
Mothers can be a powerful collective force when advocating for their kids. Both of my children are born and raised in Alaska and are being directly affected by the adverse changes in climate. The last three summers I've had to take my kids out of state to escape the threatening air quality in Fairbanks, caused by wildfires decimating Interior forests.
We should not have to go to Seattle to hike and ride bikes. I'm sensing a threat to my children's future safety and quality of life. I am compelled to act.
Mothers for Alaska members are experiencing dramatic changes in our communities, such as forest fires, insects killing millions of acres of our trees, threatened animal populations, flooding, severe erosion, and loss of lifestyles.
These alterations to our ecosystem will have the most impact on our children and future generations. Like a mother polar bear, we moms have an inner mechanism to protect our young from harm. We sense a pending crisis that will negatively alter the quality of life for our children, and we cannot help but take action to defend them.
Mary Sage, a mother from Barrow, testified, "My husband hunts whales, seals and walrus to provide food for our family. How fast will the ice melt? What will we feed our families? Our concerns are real. Our cultural traditions, our livelihood, our way of life is at stake."
With Earth Day this Sunday, we need to pause and reflect on what is at risk. The planet will adapt, but it's the future generations we must consider.
Shelly Morgan of Anchorage told commission members, "Like a child who cares for an elder, we must care for our Mother Earth who is suffering the consequences of our actions. The ball has been set in motion and we cannot stop the chain of events that have already been set. It is up to us now to stop the ball from rolling any further, understand the current and predicted impacts and work to mitigate these damages and abate future impacts."
My hope is that the commission listened intently to what the Mothers for Alaska told them and then will report back to legislators the urgency of this crisis.
Alaska should not pose passively as the global warming poster child.
Instead, Alaska should move forward as an innovative leader on the issue. It should set an example of leadership for the nation, for the world, and protect this place with legislation, corporate and individual action, and utilize Alaska's vast resources of renewable energy opportunities. Our members of Congress must support bills that have the strongest emissions regulations and caps and continue to introduce renewable energy legislation like Sen. Lisa Murkowski's REFRESH Act of 2007.
Global warming is the result of an extreme excess of carbon emissions from human activities. We need to reduce these emissions to slow it down and reduce the harmful effects. Scientists tell us there is still time to act.
This Earth Day, start locally with your family. For you parents, here is a list of 10 things to do as a family to begin to save ourselves:
Drive less. Walk or bike with your kids to do your errands.
If you must drive, carpool.
Pack a waste-free lunch. Use reusable containers, utensils, cups and cloth napkins.
Buy fewer plastic toys.
Shop garage sales and thrift stores.
Make it a habit from an early age to turn off the lights and electronics when not in use.
Use the library, the ultimate in reuse.
Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs in bedrooms to save 150 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.
Support companies that are creating change and practicing carbon-reducing business methods.
Teach by example. Frequently write and call your government representatives, supporting climate change and renewable energy legislation.
Making changes to lessen your carbon emissions is not about losing your comfort level; it's about a smarter, healthier, and money-saving lifestyle. Start at home with your family, but it is urgent to also tell your community, state, and federal government to proceed promptly on this issue.
Take action.
Create solutions.
Generation to generation -- what will your legacy be?
Lori Fickus lives in Fairbanks.

Anchorage Testimony by Mothers for Alaska

testimony by: Rita Buck Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Hearings

Climate Change issues

Rita Buck, mother, grandmother, subsistence user
White Mountain, Alaska

Winter/snow comes later—Dec or Jan.
River freezes in November—used to freeze first week of Oct.
Perma frost is melting---easier to dig holes in the summer—we dug a new outhouse pit at
camp and there was no ice in July like there normally used to be
Fish come in June, used to come in July after 4th of July
Salmon berries ripe earlier now in July—used to pick in August, last summer the salmon
Berries cooked in their “pods”
Blue berries too
The river is getting lower and changing course. With the perma frost melting the river
Banks are eroding.

Our river is showing more red-salmon….never used to see any.
Seeing more fog in the fall and spring
Seeing different birds and bugs

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mother's testimony from Climate Hearings

(photo L to R: Hazel Apok, Kotzebue, Dixie Hutchinson - KNBA radio, Hannah Loon, Selawik. Mothers for Alaska members Hazel and Hannah gave a wonderful radio interview before testifying at the Climate Hearings.

Testimony of:

Ms. Hannah Paniyavluk Loon
Climate Change
April 2007

Hello, my name is Hannah Paniyavluk Loon, born and raised in Selawik, Alaska, a large village of about 850 plus residents. I am a part-time Rural Development student with the University of Alaska, a mother of three children ages 29, 28, and 21. I am currently employed by the NANA Regional Corporation as a Shareholder Relations Liaison, based out of the Red Dog Mine.

I thank the planners for allowing Mothers of Alaska to speak to the Commission on Climate Change and to the federal agencies and invited guest speakers. My family and I hunt, fish and gather from the land and we provide for many elders and neighbors. As hunters and gatherers, we are outside most of the time. We are keen observers of our natural world and have noticed a change in the climate over the past 10 years.

The land, small sloughs, small willow valleys, lakes, and the game that lives in them are what sustain our daily living in Selawik. We also rely on migratory birds that come to feed and breed on the wetlands of the Selawik River drainage.

I interviewed Mildred Foster, chair-woman of the Selawik Elders Council. She is a high harvester of white fish and pike. These are her comments about climate change:

“For the last five years, my brother and my family went to camp to harvest white fish and much to our dismay and disappointments, the processed fish did not dry and all have been given to families that have dogs. We had one long net and two short nets to catch fish. We filled several drying racks filled with fish we had cleaned and cut to dry. There were approximately 30 or more fish in each rack.

To do this, we brought our tent, wood stove, nets, food, and bedding and spent one and a half week to check the nets, clean, and fillet to dry the fish. We brought the fish home and hung under our storage fish racks to dry more. It rained for such a long time and the fish did not dry properly. Instead, it all went to waste because it was not fit for human consumption.

We experienced this for five years. Not only our family was affected, but also those who depend on us to give them fish. They live in Buckland, Kotzebue, Fairbanks, Shungnak and Anchorage.”

When asked about other changes she observed, she commented:

“As soon as the ice goes, we have to rush to gather fish from our nets while there are no bugs. I also observed that when we check our nets in the morning in late June, the water is already too warm, so the fish dies and decays in the water from the sun’s heat. These fish also go to waste and are not fit for human consumption.

Blueberries do not grow like before; my daughter had to travel far above Selawik River to pick blue berries. I went to Shungnak to pick blueberries.”

Selawik people need gas to start off their gathering and have sold a Ziploc bag of white fish for $13 per bag and $17 per bag for dried pike. One Ziploc bag of salmonberries goes for $25 or $250 for a 5 gallon bucket. This serves as an economy for the residents and provides for those who have no means to go out, primarily the elders. Otherwise, most of what we do gather is shared with family and friends as we have for centuries.

Mildred also stated that there is water already between Kiana and Selawik, a narrow pass where the Kobuk 440 mid-distance dog race plans to travel on. This is a winter trail for Selawik and Kiana residents. Also, there is water on the mouth of the Buckland River drainage and on the Selawik River drainage. Signs like these make travel by snow machine very dangerous.

Two years ago, we lost 2 young girls and one male adult who fell under the ice near the village. They fell under the ice that was always considered a solid area in the past, but wasn’t. The people we lost were merely hunting for geese just a bend away below Selawik River about 1 mile. They had no reason to believe the ice would not hold them as it always had before. This sad incident also left an elderly woman with no hunting provider.

This fall, my cousin, Emma Ramoth asked me to cut up fish in my house and hang them in the furnace room which I did. I asked myself and my daughter, is this adaptation for us to do regarding climate change? When our fish do not dry in fall due to abnormal heavy rains, do we change to cutting our fish in the house and later hang them outside?

I thank you for listening and hope our concerns will make a difference in your deliberations to make our environment safe to travel, and harvest game how we used to in the past. Please educate us and provide information about climate change that is easy to understand. Although we are few in number, we are willing to make simple changes to conserve electricity and fuel as a statement to the rest of the United States about their personal responsibility to reduce the amount of gas emissions to the environment.

Pease visit us in the villages and hold hearings on about their observations of climate change. We are extremely concerned and want to hear what is going on.

Again thank you for listening to Mothers for Alaska and hearing our plea for understanding and willingness to work with you to preserve our ways.

Plastic Bag Bill

by: Lori Fickus

State Senator Kim Elton, D-Juneau, has sponsored Senate Bill 118, which would place a .15 cent fee on plastic shopping bags. The Bill Title reads: an Act establishing a fee for disposable plastic bags distributed by retail sellers of goods or services to consumers to carry away or protect goods; and establishing the litter and marine debris reduction and recycling fund.

The fees collected from the Act would go into a recycling and litter clean up fund. Elton's statement on the bill gives insight into a problem that many consumers don't consider when shopping, " Globally we consume almost 1 million plastic bags per minute or 500 billion annually. The USA consumes 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually - equal to about 12 million barrels of oil. US retailers spend an estimated $4 billion on disposable plastic bags annually, the cost of which is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices."

This tragedy of convenience must be stopped. These plastic wonders are made from oil, and they are not biodegradable, that means they sit in our landfills and break into smaller and smaller pieces leaching plastic into our soil and water. They also get into the animal food web. Senator Elton's statement also tells us, "Each year, more than 100,000 marine mammal deaths can be attributed to ingesting plastic bags mistaken for food. The plastic bags choke the animals or block their intestines. A Barrow hunter reports a polar bear barfing up plastic bags.

Paper or plastic? So how do you haul your groceries home? The Sierra club recommends a reusable bag. They tell us on their website, "The energy and other environmental impacts embodied in a plastic grocery bag is somewhat less than in a paper grocery bag. But paper is easier to recycle, being accepted in most recycling programs. The recycling rate for plastic bags is very low. So, which is better for the environment? Neither! The fact is that the difference between paper and plastic RECYCLING is small compared with the REUSING bags." In Fort Yukon, their community store does not offer plastic bags, and each resident uses a cloth bag or alternative method to pack home their supplies.

Contact your representatives in support of SB 118!

Arctic Energy Summit

Arctic Energy Summit Link
The Summit will bring focus to the areas of developing resources while addressing the need for affordable energy in rural areas throughout the Arctic.
Check it out!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Alaska Climate Change Impact Assessment Testimony

This is the testimony from one of the "Mothers for Alaska", Shelly Morgan. More to come...

April 12, 2007

Tim Benintendi, Legislative Staff
Rp. Ralph Samuels, House Majority Leader
AK Climate Impact Assessment Commission
State Capitol #204, Juneau, AK 99801-1182

Dear Commissioners:

Thank you for your work on the Climate Impact Assessment Commission and thank you for accepting my testimony (both written and verbal). My name is Shelly Morgan. I live in Anchorage, Alaska with my two year old son, Robert Morgan. I am writing today on behalf of myself, my son, future grandchildren and Mothers for Alaska.

The signs of climate change are much more apparent in Alaska than in many other places. In Anchorage, I witnessed the lightening storms a few years ago, where we had more lightning during one year than in the previous thirty years. Outbreaks of spruce bark beetle have been linked to warmer climates, making a problem for our forests, changing our landscape dramatically and leading to more dead wood ready to catch fire during lightning storms and ready to spread quickly with wind. The fires on the Kenai Peninsula in recent years left me hiding inside with my doors and windows closed, due to asthma induced by excess smoke inhalation.

I am concerned that my son and his future children and grandchildren will not experience the glaciers, which are rapidly melting. I worry that invasive species, both aquatic and terrestrial, will quickly adapt to the warmer climate in Alaska, and replace our native species, transforming our wilderness and changing the wild Alaska we know and love. It saddens me that the Fur Rondy events which are a big part of Alaska’s history, fun for children and adults, and a boost to the winter economy are losing ground due to climate change. Last year, the snow sculptures melted before judging day and it was impossible to identify the winning sculpture. The Iditarod re-start keeps moving north because we don’t have enough snow year after year. This is a shame.

The impacts of climate change are even more obvious and devastating in rural villages across Alaska. It is critical that we look to the people of these communities to truly understand these impacts. The people of these villages have the traditional knowledge of what subsistence living, weather patterns, and species migrations and assemblages have been like for many generations. It is the people of these communities that truly can speak to the changes observed today. It is imperative that this traditional knowledge is given equal weight to the data collected over recent years and the climate change models predicting future patterns. We must look to the people across Alaska who hold this traditional knowledge and work together to solve the problems caused by climate change.

Like a child who cares for an elder, we must care for our Mother Earth who is suffering the consequences of our actions. The ball has been set in motion and we cannot stop the chain of events that have already been set. It is up to us now to stop the ball from rolling any further, understand the current and predicted impacts and work to mitigate these damages and abate future impacts.

Alaska is known for the theme “North to the Future”. Let’s make certain Alaska truly lives up to this phrase and leads the way in renewable energy developments. We must harness the solar and wind energy that we have in such abundance and direct our resources to expanding sustainable energy production for use by all Alaskans.

Shelly Morgan

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ten ways your family can save the planet
The legislatively appointed Climate Impact Assessment Commission held a public hearing in Fairbanks in December 2006. I heard commission member Caleb Pungowiyi of Kotzebue request personal stories of how global warming is affecting Alaska communities, and I was stirred to respond to his request. I began thinking of ways to get those stories to the commission.
I began by looking at what demographic I represented. I am a stay-at-home mom, and mothers can be a powerful collective force when advocating for their kids.My daughter is a beautiful Yupik teenager whose family ties originate in Kalskag. My son is the great grandson of the late chief of Arctic Village, Moses Sam. Both of my kids are born and raised in this state and are directly affected by adverse changes in climate. The past three summers I've had to take my kids out of state to escape the threatening air quality in Fairbanks caused by wildfires decimating Interior forests. I am sensing a threat to my children's future and quality of life, and I am compelled to act.
I decided to gather a small group of mothers and grandmothers from around Alaska, Mothers for Alaska, who are concerned about climate change and future generations. We answered Mr. Pungowiyi's call for more personal narratives at the commission's public hearings yesterday and today in Anchorage.Mothers for Alaska members are experiencing dramatic changes in our communities, such as forest fires, insects killing millions of acres of trees, threatened animal populations, flooding, severe erosion and loss of lifestyles.These alterations to our ecosystem will have the most impact on our children and future generations. Like a mother polar bear, we moms have an inner mechanism to protect our young. We sense a pending crisis that will damage our children's quality of life, and we cannot help but take action to protect them.
What kind of future will our youth face? What will it have to offer if we do nothing? Will generations to come be able to subsist from the Chukchi Sea? Will they hike the backcountry of the Interior? Will they be able to fish in the Yukon River? Will tourists still come to the Southeast?
My hope is that the commission will listen intently to what the Mothers for Alaska can teach them and then report back to legislators the urgency of this crisis. Alaska should not pose passively as the global warming poster child. Instead, it should move forward as an innovative leader. It should set an example for the nation, for the world, and protect this place with legislation, corporate and individual action, and utilize Alaska's vast renewable energy opportunities. Our senators in Washington, D.C., must support the strongest emission regulations and caps and renewable energy legislation.Global warming is the result of an extreme excess of carbon emissions from humans. We need to reduce these emissions to slow it down and reduce the harmful effects. Scientists tell us there is still time to act.
Start locally in your home with your family. For parents, here is a list of 10 things to do as a family to begin to create change.
* Drive less; walk or bike with your kids to do your errands.
* If you must drive, car pool.
* Don't leave your car running while waiting in line to pick up your child from school.
* Pack a waste-free lunch. Use reusable containers, utensils, cups and cloth napkins.
* Teach kids to compost kitchen scraps.
* Buy fewer plastic toys.
* Shop garage sales and thrift stores.
* Make it a habit from an early age to turn off the lights and electronics when not in use.
* Use the library -- the ultimate in reuse.
* Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. They save you money, and have a cool shape the kids will love.
Making changes to lessen your carbon emissions is not about losing your comfort level; it's about a smarter, healthier and money-saving lifestyle.
Take action.
Create solutions.
Generation to generation, what will your legacy be?

Beluga whales rapid decline; Whalers agree to cancel hunt

This article was submitted by Mary Sage in Barrow, Alaska.

Hunters and agency agree to cancel beluga whale hunt

COOK INLET: Numbers here diminishing while other populations are stronger.

By JEANNETTE J. LEE, The Associated Press

Published: April 17, 2007

Fifty years ago, a whale hunter in Cook Inlet could counton spotting the bulbous white heads of a beluga pod after a half hour or less on the water.But with the whales' rapid and mysterious disappearance,local hunters can be out in the swirling currents and swifttides for three times as long before a pod swims into sight.The population is now so low that Alaska Native whalers,who have chased belugas for generations, agreed Monday to cancel their annual hunt for the third time in nine yearsat the request of the National Marine Fisheries Service.The agency is expected to decide this week whether to declare the animals endangered.

You can read the full story online at: