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> Bill passes to start global climate change commission in Alaska
Bob Woolf, science teacher in Ga
post May 10 2006, 05:28 PM
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Good news on the radio this morning, with respect to the larger issues surrounding your work: Climate change impact legislation crafted by Alaska Native legislators Reggie Joule of Kotzebue and Donny Olson of Golovin has passed out of the legislature and is on its way to the governor for his signature. Students here in Gambell managed to get U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, the governor's daughter, to support this state legislation, so it is likely to be signed into law, "Creating an Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission," to quote Joule's title of his original legislation. The House version, page 2, lines 26-27, defines one member of the commission as follows: "with expertise in climatology or knowledgeable in the area of oceanography;" **Perhaps you would have such a member to recommend?** It will be very important that your past and current work be reported to the newly forming commission asap, with pertinent commentary regarding threats to the subsistence harvests of Alaska Natives. Reggie, when my students and I met with him in Juneau a few weeks back to discuss his legislation, made it clear that he chose wording that would be acceptable to the Republican-controlled legislature and adminstration, but that, as a subsistence whaler himself, much of his intent was his concern for protecting the traditional harvests of the indigenous peoples of our state. This does not negate the fact that all Alaskans face potentially severe economic problems associated with climate change, but the traditional societies in Alaska villages have fewer options and are at considerable risk of losing all that they hold dear, including the nutritional traditional foods that they would be economically unable to replace with foods too costly to import. Your work is important, and now you have another forum in which to bring it to the attention of decision makers.
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Lee_Cooper
post May 11 2006, 05:39 PM
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Bob,

Thanks for the update on the work you and your students are helping with in Juneau. As scientists we do have a responsibility to help bring the information we collect back to people who can use it, whether they are people in Gambell who want to plan for the future or legislators in Juneau who are trying to make decisions. One of the ways we do this is to write up papers that describe our scientific results, but sometimes we also have to give our opinions in a more general sense such as the person who will be asked to serve on this new commission. Since it is an Alaskan state commission, I would imagine that it would be most appropriate to select an Alaskan scientist to serve on the commission, and there are many talented and experienced experts here, including at the University of Alaska. This is an important responsibility, and we would be very pleased to help the people who are selected for this commission. It is quite possible that Alaska will be affected more than other states by climate change, so it is quite timely that you and your students have helped support the formation of this commission.

I have to go out on the deck and help with some of our sampling operations, but thanks for writing and we'll look forward to speaking with your class soon by telephone. I think ARCUS may be helping us to set up our first from-sea conference call sometime next week.

Lee
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post May 12 2006, 12:32 AM
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QUOTE(Lee_Cooper @ May 11 2006, 05:39 PM) *

Bob,

Thanks for the update on the work you and your students are helping with in Juneau. As scientists we do have a responsibility to help bring the information we collect back to people who can use it, whether they are people in Gambell who want to plan for the future or legislators in Juneau who are trying to make decisions. One of the ways we do this is to write up papers that describe our scientific results, but sometimes we also have to give our opinions in a more general sense such as the person who will be asked to serve on this new commission. Since it is an Alaskan state commission, I would imagine that it would be most appropriate to select an Alaskan scientist to serve on the commission, and there are many talented and experienced experts here, including at the University of Alaska. This is an important responsibility, and we would be very pleased to help the people who are selected for this commission. It is quite possible that Alaska will be affected more than other states by climate change, so it is quite timely that you and your students have helped support the formation of this commission.

I have to go out on the deck and help with some of our sampling operations, but thanks for writing and we'll look forward to speaking with your class soon by telephone. I think ARCUS may be helping us to set up our first from-sea conference call sometime next week.

Lee


If things go according to plan, we should be on a teleconference with you Monday at 9:30 AM. We have high school graduation and prom this weekend, and next week is our last for school this year, so things will be hectic. We'll do our best to get students to the conference. Am I right to guess the Healy will be avoiding nearby waters because of whaling and other hunting, and therefore not visiting Gambell? One of my totally wonderful students students, Ayapaa, was looking forward to giving Ruth a tour of the village...but asked me to go along because he is shy! If you do make it, and stay long enough, I can try to put together a traditional dance, lots of fun, some of the best Native dancers in Alaska, with an incredible variety of songs and dances, even a robot dance which might not be terribly ancient...but a nice addition to our school robotics program. The men here still use walrus stomach for their drums.

Bob
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