Alaska’s climate change deniers just got a scary wake-up call. The Iditarod’s ceremonial opening race was almost canceled from lack of snow. To salvage it, officials shipped 300 cubic yards of snow to Anchorage by train. This was to supplement stockpiles of snow already stored in the city. The crowd-pleasing start still had to be cut short, from the traditional 11 miles to just 3.
Concerns remain about the rest of the race. Other portions of the route have also received too little snow. Poor ground conditions make the already dangerous 1,000-plus mile race even more treacherous. Dogs can lose their footing, sleds can break, and the risk of injury multiplies. Some mushers have considered not participating.
This was the fourth warmest February on record in Anchorage, with only 1.8 inches of snowfall. Such unseasonable weather continues the recent trend; Alaskan winters are getting warmer. Lack of snow has hampered the Iditarod for the past three years. Last year’s race was relocated to Fairbanks, nearly 300 miles north of its traditional, historical route. On the first day of this year’s competition, temperatures rose above freezing.
Though Alaska is already showing the symptoms of global warming more than any other US state, its politicians are among the loudest, most stubborn climate change deniers. Oil companies, who are among the largest campaign spenders, have effectively portrayed human-caused climate change as a “liberal agenda” or an unsubstantiated theory. Hopefully this year’s Iditarod will make some Alaskans reconsider the scientific evidence before it’s too late.
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