Alaska ignores climate change, so Iditarod dogs will just need to evolve thinner coats
I’ll start with the weirdest part of this story: Alaska has a global warming task force that was started by none other than Sarah Palin. You probably remember Sarah Palin; her environmental streak is probably not what you remember best.
It doesn’t matter anyway, because the task force doesn’t meet anymore. From the Guardian:
The taskforce was established by Sarah Palin during her time as governor, in an effort to protect a state that is acutely vulnerable to climate change.
Alaska, like other Arctic regions, is warming at a much faster rate than the global average. Last summer saw record loss of Arctic sea ice.
However, the rapid-response team has not met since March 2011 and its supervisory body, the Sub-Cabinet on Climate Change, has gone even longer without meeting. …
The state government, in a letter from 1 February, said the sub-cabinet had produced three strategy documents since that February 2010 meeting, but declined to release them.
Eh, no bigs. Why would Alaska need to worry about the warming climate? It’s not like the state’s signature sporting event is threatened by warmer weather. Now, an excerpt from “Warm Weather Forces Changes Ahead of Iditarod Race”:
Several Iditarod qualifying events have been postponed, rerouted or canceled because of a lack of snow. The John Beargrease sled dog race, a trek of some 400 miles in northern Minnesota, postponed its start to March 10 from Jan. 27. In Alaska, the Don Bowers Memorial 200/300, the Sheep Mountain Lodge 150 and the Knik 200 have been canceled. The Copper Basin 300 in Glennallen, Alaska, had to cut its trail for several teams by 25 miles because there was not enough snow at the finish line; the mushers finished the race with their hats and gloves off and jackets unzipped.
“That was crazy with the warm weather,” said Zack Steer, one of the race’s organizers. “It was such a drastic change from last year, but the trail at the end was dirt. It wasn’t safe.”
That’s not the craziest quote. This is.
“It definitely has us concerned,” Erin McLarnon, a musher and spokeswoman for the Iditarod, said of the long-term effects of the weather. She is among the mushers breeding dogs with thinner coats, more suitable for warmer weather.
She is breeding new dogs to deal with climate change. We live in a world in which it is easier to breed new types of animals than it is to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Iditarod is the least of the state’s problems. It is seeing tropical disease outbreaks, epic storms, rising oceans, and thawing permafrost. You can breed dogs with thinner coats and put wheels on sleds. It’s trickier to stop the ocean from flooding 6,500 miles of coast.
I’m about to say something I never thought I’d say and which I’ll never say again: What Alaska could use now is a little more Sarah Palin.