Empire editorial: A warm reception for climate panel

Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2006

Juneau and Mayor Bruce Botelho deserve praise for recognizing what all Alaskans soon will - that the Last Frontier is on the front lines of global climate change.

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The mayor has appointed a commission of local scientists to study the city's warming (a few degrees since the 1940s) and precipitation trends, and what they may mean for the area's ecology and economy. It is expected to spend six months in deliberations and then conduct town meetings and recommend policies.

Juneau isn't going to stop global warming, which most scientists now agree is occurring with human help. But this is one case where the old saying "think globally, act locally" resonates loudly. While it appears that a critical mass may be building for policy change in Washington, D.C., it hasn't happened yet. America's leaders have yet to embrace worldwide efforts to restrict carbon emissions. An example like Juneau's, showing how global warming encroaches on the salmon and timber for which the world knows this region, could become a credible call for change.

The Alaska House of Representatives followed Juneau's lead this week, approving a commission to advise communities about dealing with erosion, flooding and permafrost thawing. These are problems that the state faces now and in the near future, and Alaskans need to have a voice in creating a global solution.



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