We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Some of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Alaska's fragile ecology is imperiled by 'Rugged' ego

by Molly Ivins Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 12:52 PM

The military and the oil and gas industry account for most of Alaska's population growth, and are both notoriously conservative and transient. These immigrants believe they are rugged individualists, and they are dead wrong

Postcard from Alaska: There's trouble in paradise
By Molly Ivins, July 27, 2003

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Many and varied are the wonders, the splendors and the peculiarities of the Other Great State. The funniest thing said by Alaskans is, "Gonna be another scorcher" (means "could get into the 70s").

In Alaska, God is called Ted Stevens. The senior senator and chairman of the Appropriations Committee is worth an estimated $3 billion a year to the state. One of the oddest things about Alaska is the complete disconnect between its politics and its reality. Alaska is an implacably conservative state, albeit with a lovely libertarian lilt. Consequently, the right-wing radio talk-show hosts bash government unmercifully, and Alaskans wander around under the impression that they are all rugged individualists who can take care of themselves and don't need no goldern govamint. That the state is painfully dependent on government is clear only to those who think.

The state is also dependent on salmon, and therein lies some bad news. The salmon market is in a disastrous state, in large part because of salmon-farming in Canada and South America. Do yourself and Alaska a favor, and insist on buying only wild Alaska salmon. It is sooooo much better than those pale, flabby, chemical-laden farm fishies.

Unfortunately, salmon are extraordinarily sensitive to temperature variations. Global warming, as the scientists predicted, is affecting Alaska first and worst. Alaska has warmed by 5.4 degrees in three decades, and by 8 degrees in winter. This has drastically affected every part of Alaska. The ecologists and conservationists are desperately worried. The sea is rising, the salmon runs are getting earlier, and in the permafrost, the oceans and the geology, the changes are unambiguous and demonstrable. The polar bear is an unlikely canary in the mines, but the largest land predators on Earth are becoming dangerously skinny and have to be killed because they keep moving south.

The temperature variations may sound minor and even welcome in a state that can still haul off and get 80-below on any given winter day, but there is only one degree of difference between freezing and melting. How much a plant reflects and absorbs the sun, the reflection off snow cover, the growth of parasites in herring, a 10-degree warming in the Yukon River - all of this has a combined impact that is incalculable. The trees are getting new diseases, king/Chinook salmon are dying off in the Yukon. And the state is still full of people who think global warming is a commie plot or there is no global warming, or if there is, it will just improve the climate. Classic case of denial.

Seventeen percent of Alaskans are native people, who have lived in this difficult and delicate environment for thousands of years. Subsistence, or subsistence slightly mixed with the money economy, is still the most common way of life in rural Alaska. Even the berries picked by native women, a critical source of vitamin C, are becoming scarcer. The response of Alaska's Republican right is to slash and burn, subsidize mining and give tax breaks to oil and gas companies for exploration. Cronyism and favors for special interest groups have become the hallmarks of state government. Gov. Frank H. Murkowski even appointed his own daughter to the U.S. Senate.

Any summer visitor to Alaska would assume that tourism must be a gold mine for the state. Great shoals of tourists wander about like musk ox, spending money on everything from moose-kitsch to superb hotels. Unfortunately, the industry is vertically integrated and owned by out-of-state cruise lines. The cruise companies bring the tourists, bus them hither and yon, put them up at their own hotels and take them on their own packaged tours, and most Alaskans never see a penny of the money.

In many ways, Alaska is a classic colony, exploited for its natural resources by huge corporations from the Lower 48. Forty percent of the world's remaining temperate rain forest is in southeast Alaska - and only 0.02 percent of the Earth's surface is temperate rain forest. Alaska Republicans seem determined to cut it all down as rapidly as possible - 70 percent of the old growth has already been not just cut but clear-cut. It makes no economic sense; the timber market is so depressed they're losing money on every tree they cut. They get $1.75 a tree for 150-year-old timber, according to conservationists around the state.

It is so easy to fall in love with this glorious place, and most of the people are as enchanting as the wildlife - friendly, hospitable, helpful, tough and resilient.

The struggle in Alaska is ultimately between the short-timers and the long-termers, both in terms of length of residence and of foresight. The military and the oil and gas industry account for most of the population growth, and are both notoriously conservative and transient. You get some dentist from Anchorage who wants to fly out to the bush and shoot a moose for his living-room wall and doesn't care whether the native subsistence culture is affected or not. Alaska still has the mentality that everyone should have a right to do pretty much whatever he or she wants, regardless of the fragility of the ecology. Such a beautiful, magical place deserves much, much better.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 11 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
ALASKA LIBERTARIAN PARTY PLATFORM Exxon Valdez Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 1:47 PM
Mooly - You're Too Funny - Bitch!! hehe Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 3:19 PM
Molly - You're Too Funny - Bitch!! hehe Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 3:20 PM
They're so old Meyer London Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 3:33 PM
^ please Thursday, Jul. 31, 2003 at 3:37 PM
Comedy? George W. Bush Friday, Aug. 01, 2003 at 5:29 AM
Comedy Meyer London Friday, Aug. 01, 2003 at 6:13 AM
ML ? Friday, Aug. 01, 2003 at 6:16 AM
answer to ridiculous question Meyer London Friday, Aug. 01, 2003 at 7:00 AM
answer to ML's ridiculous statement laugh's on Molly Friday, Aug. 01, 2003 at 7:10 AM
not laughing Meyer London Friday, Aug. 01, 2003 at 7:37 AM
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy