Sarah Palin and a melting Alaska

Global warming is nothing to joke about in the not-so-frozen North. Palin might be pro-drilling, but she can't ignore climate change

Published August 29, 2008 9:32PM (EDT)

An intriguing flip side to Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's well documented stance favoring greatly expanded drilling for oil is Alaska's vulnerability to global warming.

Average temperatures in Alaska have risen 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years -- a rate considerably faster than experienced in the world as a whole. Glaciers are in retreat, wetlands are drying out, and some coastal villages are in serious danger of washing away, as the sea ice that once protected them against the full onslaught of winter ocean fury melts away.

I was unable to find any on-the-record comment by Gov. Palin on the lawsuit filed by the seaside village of Kivalina against against eight energy companies, including Exxon-Mobil, alleging that the corporations had engaged in a "conspiracy" to "mislead the public about the science of global warming." But apparently, being the governor of Alaska means that one must recognize that yes, the ice is melting, and something must be done.

Last September, Palin signed an executive order establishing a "climate change subcabinet" to prepare a climate change "strategy" for Alaska. One of the first jobs of the subcabinet -- figuring out a priority list for state aid. Kivalina is on the list.

Pro-drilling, and yet willing to acknowledge that climate change is real -- again, a perfect match for John McCain.

UPDATE: I would be remiss not to note that in an interview given before she was selected as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin told NewsMax that she did not believe global warming was man-made:

A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2008 Elections Environment Global Warming Globalization How The World Works Sarah Palin