Obama to note how global warming is making Alaska more livable?

AP/Fuel Fix:
With melting glaciers and rising seas as his backdrop, President Barack Obama will visit Alaska next week to press for urgent global action to combat climate change, even as he carefully calibrates his message in a state heavily dependent on oil.

Obama will become the first sitting president to visit the Alaska Arctic when he travels to Kotzebue — population around 3,000 — just north of the Arctic Circle at the end of his three-day trip. He’ll kick off the visit Monday with a speech to a State Department-hosted conference on climate change and the Arctic.

The unambiguous goal of the president’s trip is to use dramatic and alarming changes to Alaska’s climate to instill fresh urgency into his global warming agenda. Sea ice is melting, critical permafrost is thawing and Alaska’s cherished glaciers are liquefying — powerful visuals that Obama hopes will illustrate the threat to natural wonders and livelihoods and serve as a global call to action.

“This is all real,” Obama said in his weekly address released Saturday. “This is happening to our fellow Americans right now.”

Yet Obama has taken steps that show he’s cautiously navigating the competing environmental and energy interests at play. A few weeks ago, his administration gave Royal Dutch Shell a final permit to drill into oil-bearing rock off Alaska’s northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.

“The president has made great strides in protecting the Arctic, but we are really disappointed with this decision,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska director for The Wilderness Society. “This is a point where we disagree.”

For many Alaskans, though, the issue comes down to dollars and cents. Both the state government and its residents rely deeply on oil revenues to stay afloat, and falling oil prices have already created a serious budget deficit.
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Alaska stands to benefit the most from a warming climate.  It will make more of the land usable and will open trade routes from Asia where ships can get to the East Coast without having to go through the Panama Canal.  It will also make it easier to get to mineral deposits in Alaska including oil and gas.

Obama is so focused on what he sees as teh downsides to global warming that he is blinded to the myriad opportunities for the region in a warmer world.

The NY Times notes:

U.S. Is Seen as Lagging Behind in Scramble for Arctic

Some lawmakers in Congress, analysts and even some government officials say the United States is behind other nations, chief among them Russia, in preparing for the new realities facing the region.

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