Governor Dunleavy: Ignorance Is Not Bliss

WC’s adopted state, Idaho, is politically a very conservative place. More conservative than Alaska, in most respects. At least until recently. But Idaho’s conservatism isn’t ostrich-head-in-the-sand conservatism. Unlike, say, Alaska.

WC is speaking here of the approach to climate change.

Governor Dunleavy in February abolished Alaska’s climate change commission. He didn’t explain why he issued the administrative order abolishing all of the climate change work that had been done. But earlier he had said:

Alaska’s footprint in terms of being a contributor to pollution or however you want to word it is pretty small compared to other states in the U.S. So my focus has been trying to create jobs for our kids and grandkids so they don’t have to leave the state,

WC is embarrassed for Alaskans who can still think critically. Or think beyond the size of their PFD. The per capita energy consumption in Alaska – almost entirely fossil fuel-based – is much higher than most of the Lower 48. After all, it’s darker longer, colder and colder longer. Latitude matters.

A smarter governor might think that it would be prudent to plan for the impact of climate change on Alaska’s infrastructure. Such a governor might wonder what it is likely to cost, what’s going to have to e repaired or replaced, and how soon it’s gong to have to be done. But Mike Dunleavy is not a smarter governor.

A smarter governor might realize that extracting more fossil fuels will mean more CO2, and in absolute terms, more CO2 per capita. Every barrel of oil from Alaska means more than half a ton – 1,107 pounds – of CO2. And the impact of more CO2 hits Alaska and the Arctic harder and sooner. But Mike Dunleavy is not a smarter governor.

In Idaho, where climate change is also occurring, if at a slower rate, they are trying to determine the economic impact. Less rain and, more importantly, less snow. Less water for agriculture. Less forage for cattle ranching. Less water for hydropower. More and worse wildfires. Higher summer temperatures with greater demand for electricity to run air conditioners. Idaho Governor Brad Little said:

Climate change is real. I’m old enough that I remember feeding cows all winter long in deep snow, and I go to the ranch now and talk, ‘You wimpy guys, boy, back in the old days when I was a kid, we had winters.’ And there are other things. These ecosystems are changing.

Contrast that with Governor Dunleavy, who doesn’t “believe” in man-caused climate change. As if belief in physics were an option. As if you can’t “believe” in gravity. As if Koch brothers fantasies benefited anyone but the Koch brothers. Anthropogenic climate change is as real as gravity and as serious as a heart attack.

Idaho is studying the economic impact of climate change on the state. Because planning is important. A joint government-university committee over the next two years will focus research on six topics: agriculture, energy, human health, land, recreation and tourism and water, and how each might be impacted economically by a changing climate.

In Idaho, a very conservative state politically, the researchers stress that the analysis of possible hazards and benefits to the state due to a changing climate will all be surrounding economic projections, but the research needs to start now so Idaho is not playing catchup in the future.

Alaska? Not so much. Well, not at all.

Ignorance is not bliss. In this case, ignorance is stupid, short-sighted and dangerous.

Like, WC is afraid, Governor Mike Dunleavy.