Yesterday I touched down in Alaska for a three-day tour – a trip I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Not only because Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in a country that’s full of beautiful places – but because I’ll meet with everyday Alaskans about what’s going on in their lives, and I expect to learn a lot.
Alaska is a region defined by its Native population tribes that make up a large portion of the state’s population and have been here for thousands of years. People who, through their sheer ingenuity, found a way to wrangle the elements and stake out lives for themselves.
On the flight in, I had a great view of one of Alaska’s most beautiful sights – Denali.
It’s a new and ancient name all at once. In fact, just today, we renamed Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, by restoring its native name: Denali, which means “the high one.”
More frequent and extensive wildfires. Bigger storm surges as sea ice melts faster. Some of the swiftest shoreline erosion in the world – in some places, more than three feet a year. Alaska’s glaciers are melting faster, too – threatening coastal communities, tourism and adding to rising seas.
Climate change is already affecting the salmon stock that generations of Natives have relied on as an integral part of their lives. So my Administration is taking new action to make sure Alaska Natives have direct input into the management of Chinook salmon stocks. They’ve taken care of the salmon population for centuries and there’s no reason they shouldn’t now.
If we do nothing, Alaskan temperatures are projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century – changing all sorts of industries forever. This is all real. This is happening to our fellow Americans right now.
I’m looking forward to talking to Alaskans about how we can work together to make America the global leader on climate change around the globe.
And I’ll be sharing my experiences with you along the way because I want to make sure you see what I’m seeing.
And when you do, I want you to think about the fact that this is the only planet that we’ve got – and we’ve got to do everything we can to protect it.
President Barack Obama / IM