When I visited Alaska last week, much of the state was still reeling from June’s stunning heat wave, featuring numerous record temperatures. That includes 96 degrees in Talkeetna, a bustling tourist town near the base of 20,320-foot-high Mount McKinley (or Denali), featuring gift shops overflowing with moose and bear paraphernalia, restaurants overflowing with salmon and King crabs … and one feline elected official, longtime incumbent @MayorStubbs, who has gotten more than his share of media attention.
Despite the fact that their state is suffering from extreme climate change — Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the lower 48, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — Alaska politicians haven’t always led on this matter. Sarah Palin, for instance, is a notorious climate change denier. But I hoped Mayor Stubbs might be different. After all, he’s extremely outspoken on Twitter, e.g.:[tweet https://twitter.com/MayorStubbs/statuses/302138032029593600]
So naturally, as my fiancée and I drove south through scenic Alaska on our way to Anchorage, and neared Talkeetna, I figured I’d try the mayor out on the subject of climate change. After all, 96 degrees in his hometown might be considered rather worrisome. First, I tried flattery:
Alas, this tweet didn’t garner a quick reply.
What’s more, when we stopped at the restaurant that serves as one of the mayor’s haunts — West Rib Pub & Grille — the feline official was nowhere to be found, though documentation of his existence was plentiful (see image above). Our friendly waitress explained that Mayor Stubbs was the owner’s cat, but the owner wasn’t in at the moment.
Thus instead of an interview, all I got was a cut finger from being far too careless with some King crab legs. (“Deadliest Catch” indeed.)
Later that night, however, came a coy tweet from the mayor:
This was not exactly a “yes” to my request. Next, I appealed to the mayor’s sense of civic duty:[tweet https://twitter.com/chriscmooney/statuses/358475547174645761]
This didn’t work either:[tweet https://twitter.com/MayorStubbs/statuses/358572325332987904]
This left me scratching my head, and wondering whether hot, sunny days might actually be good for Talkeetna, which is chilly much of the year:[tweet https://twitter.com/chriscmooney/statuses/359337268202319872]
One can only conclude, then, that perhaps the mayor has bigger fish to fry. Or eat.
Or eat before they’re fried by climate change.
This story was produced as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.