Now that Congress has OK’d oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain, opponents are preparing for the next phase in their decades-long struggle to protect the environmentally sensitive area.
The 19th annual Alaska Forum on the Environment wraps up today after five days of presentations on environmental challenges confronting the state. Dozens of organizers and more than a thousand participants came to the event to find solutions, but many also found themselves dealing with a new challenge stemming from the changed political environment.
“The Arctic is the leading edge of climate change; our leading indicator of what the entire planet faces,” President Obama told foreign ministers from around the world meeting last summer in Anchorage that he came to Alaska to draw attention to climate change and how it’s affecting the Arctic.
“No matter what we do ... we cannot stop climate change in its tracks,” says John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser. “It’s already having significant impacts. Those impacts will grow, and we need to be prepared for that.”