SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Should Ketchikan Warm to GLOBAL WARMING?
By Dave Kiffer


June 11, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Our good friends in Juneau are concerned with GLOBAL WARMING.

I have to use all capital letters when discussing GLOBAL WARMING because proper protocol demands that "good stewards of the Earth" always use all caps (the written word version of shouting) for GLOBAL WARMING because it is such an important issue.

Earlier this spring, the Mayor of Juneau, Bruce Botelho, (he got his political start as a youth leader at my church 40 years ago, back before we had ever heard of GLOBAL WARMING) appointed a panel of scientists to study the effects GLOBAL WARMING will have on the future of the Cap City.

According to the Associated Press, Juneau has seen a steady rise in annual average temperature over the past several decades. The Associated Press says that the panel's work is expected to take up to six months and lead to policy proposals and town meetings.

One of the potential actions may be that the city might consider reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, an action taken by some 70 other cities nationwide, also according to the Associated Press.

jpg Global Warming

Last Global Warming Non Believer
By Mike Lane, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

Now don't get me wrong. I am as concerned as the next wag about increasing world temperatures, shrinking ice packs and rising sea levels. It's just that I'm not entirely convinced that GLOBAL WARMING is necessarily a bad thing for Our Fair Salmon City. I'm sure I just need more info.

Naturally, I am assuming that if GLOBAL WARMING is an immediate concern to Juneau, it must also be an immediate concern to Ketchikan. Of course we have fewer "scientists" than Juneau has so it would be harder to put together a blue ribbon panel to find out for sure, but - as usual - I digress.

I remember a few years back, I was sitting with my mother and she - in the time honored tradition of someone who has endured Ketchikan's lack of GLOBAL WARMING for her entire life - gestured dismissively at a news report on the television.

"GLOBAL WARMING," she said. "Hmmfff. We ought to put up a sign "Ketchikan welcomes GLOBAL WARMING."

I could see she had a point.

Higher temperatures. Would Ketchikan be a better place to live if we the temperature was four or five degrees higher on average? Yep.

Would Ketchikan be a better place to live if - for example - we only got 120 inches of rain a year instead of the 190 we got last year? You betcha!

Would Ketchikan be a better place to live if we weren't always staring out our windows at weeks after weeks after weeks of bleak, gray "gunky" clouds camped out overhead like no-see-ums at a nudist camp. Bingo!

jpg Arctic melting

Melting Polar Ice Caps
By RJ Matson, Roll Call
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

The only fly in my mother's ointment (note I did not say liniment!) would be the rising of the tides. She lives in a nice waterfront condo and could get inundated. On the other hand, she lives on the third floor so it might not be a problem, depending on which panel (is half a panel called a pan?) of scientists you talked to.

Then again, we're talking about higher ocean in levels in 2075. I don't think Mom has plans on sticking around to age 150 plus. Then again, you never know. She might hang on if she had GLOBAL WARMING to look forward to.

Recently, I noticed a story in the Seattle Times that could shed some light on issue of GLOBAL WARMING. It seems than a panel of scientists (dang, I wish Ketchikan had more scientists, I feel like we are really missing out on some good data collation and analysis here!) has determined that GLOBAL WARMING may not be such a boon to the dreary Pacific Northwest after all.

It seems, according to those scientists, that in addition to the water shortages caused by the loss of Cascade and Olympic mountain snow and ice packs, that local residents would not have sunnier skies to look forward to. The scientists believe that in fact the skies will be even "gunkier" under GLOBAL WARMING, particularly in the months of March, April and May.

Beyond being stunned that the word "gunkier" was actually a scientific term, I was also shocked by the whole conclusion. I kinda assumed that GLOBAL WARNING always meant that what it sounded like, warmer temps will "spread sunshine all over the place, so put on a happy face!"

Apparently, to use strict scientific nomenclature "maybe so, maybe not."

Of course, one of the scientists also referred to the process that lead to the "mostly cloudy" forecast was simply "a first cut using a high-resolution forecasting model to tease out geographic details." We'll know more after we commission another scientific panel to explain just what that sentence actually means.

But still it gives me pause. I don't think any of us in Ketchikan are in favor of a climatologically intense change that makes the weather even more "gunkier" in the spring. It is already too gull-derned "gunky" enough thank you in March-April-May in Our Fair Salmon City.

Which leads me back to our Juneau brethren and their honest attempts to take action to make things better (wasn't it Ronald Reagan who said the scariest words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help?').

Now, I'm not smart enough to know the precise difference between a greenhouse gas and an outhouse gas, but I do now that Juneau produces a remarkable amount of noxious gas, particularly in an 120-day period between January and May each year.

jpg Sea Levels Rise

Sea Levels Rise As Ice Caps Melt
By RJ Matson, The St. Louis Post Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

We have a name for that gas. We call it Political Debate. It comes from The Legislature and The State Government..

It seems to me that if Juneau is truly serious about reducing gas to fight the effects of GLOBAL WARMING then it should rightly consider reducing those emissions.

At the very least, moving those emissions elsewhere (my vote would be Adak) would serve to counteract the local GLOBAL WARMING that is causing the Mendenhall Glacier retreat so rapidly into the far reaches of the Juneau Icefield.

If Juneau were to lose its primary visitor attraction (after Costco!) completely it would be just be another jewelry store encrusted tourist town like, well like Ketchikan (without all the cool totem poles, of course!)

Unfortunately, pawning off the duly elected and appointed gasbags to Adak merely shifts the burden elsewhere and does nothing toward the "greater good of all citizens of Planet Earth." When considering GLOBAL WARMING we must take the big (geocentric) picture. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (etc etc). In summation: WWCKD? (What Would Captain Kirk Do?)

I guess my only course of action is to pressure the Ketchikan powers that be to appoint a local blue ribbon panel to develop policy proposals and schedule town meetings in regard to GLOBAL WARMING. That would be the city council and mayor because I know for a fact that the borough DOES NOT have Climatological Improvement Powers.

That'll give Mom about six months to get cracking on her banner.



Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2006

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