Christopher Swope was GOVERNING's executive editor.E-mail: email@example.com
Still doubting global warming? Alaskans aren't--and they have a better read on the situation than the rest of us. A new poll shows that four out of five Alaskans believe that the Earth is getting warmer. More tellingly, as the Anchorage Daily News points out, rural Alaskans are inclined to consider global warming "an immediate and serious threat to themselves and their families."
Why should we care what Alaskans think about this? Because it's at the Earth's polar regions where the effects of slightly higher temperatures are the most pronounced. As Elizabeth Kolbert pointed out in her must-read New Yorker series (part 1, part 2, part 3), Alaskans are already seeing ice packs melt and permafrost thaw. Retreating ice has forced one village of Eskimos to consider moving inland. These are not Al Gore's lemmings living in the bush. Given Gore's 28-percent showing in Alaska in 2000, I doubt he's got much credibility in Alaska, anyway.
I'll trust what scientists have to say about global warming more than any public opinion poll. But this Alaska poll is interesting precisely because there's so much silly mythology to the way global warming is talked about. You may have an aunt in Texas who says global warming must be for real because she simply can't remember a hotter summer than this one. Nothing against your aunt, but she has no idea what she's talking about.
More often than not, however, Alaskans do know what they're talking about. And when they tell you they can't remember warmer winters--you should listen to what they have to say.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.