Visiting Juneau, Alaska and exploring the Mendenhall Glacier offered Southern Alliance for Clean Energy staffer Sara Barczak a glimpse into our altering world and the way remodeling energy and transportation sectors within the Southeast U.S. to be much less polluting could make a distinction.

Sara Barczak | July 22, 2019 | Climate Change, Extreme Weather

I’ve by no means been to the Great State of Alaska so I jumped on the alternative to go to the capital metropolis of Juneau. I used to be thrilled to discover the glaciers, view the wildlife, and be taught concerning the native cultures of the Alaskan frontier – the very issues I’ve been working onerous to guard right here at SACE for the final 20 years!

Alaska has sadly skilled many impacts from climate change and I wished to look at these results and transformation for myself. My journey was on the finish of June, simply after the Summer Solstice – permitting us to take pleasure in ~18 hours of daylight so we may pack in loads of actions.

Beautiful surroundings, wonderful wildlife, exceptional tradition

View of Juneau, AK from the Mt. Roberts Tram

Ascending immediately up Mt. Roberts by way of tram after which climbing even additional up the mountain was exhilarating – we have been rewarded with spectacular views because the hazy circumstances had not but rolled in.

Orca in Auke Bay

A particular spotlight was getting out on the water in Auke Bay. Just as we began cruising, over a dozen orcas started frolicking throughout us – it was actually wonderful (and we have been informed, a uncommon sight), particularly with the gorgeous backdrop of mountains surrounding us.

Whale tails of Flame & Bunson

Later on we have been fortunate sufficient to witness quite a few humpback whales together with assembly Flame, a ~60-year previous feminine along with her ~7-month son, Bunson. We additionally met Sasha, the ~20-year previous daughter of Flame. What a sight to see the long-lasting whale tails of Flame and Bunson collectively in a single shot! Our group actually cheered and cried on the similar time – these are extraordinary animals touring from Hawaii to Alaska. And there may be  good news – a number of of the distinct populations (together with a few of these arising from Hawaii) have been faraway from the endangered species listing. This was encouraging. We all can and are making a distinction!

Description of Shuká Hít on the Sealaska Heritage Museum

We additionally took time to go to Juneau’s wonderful museums and memorials that helped us study and additional recognize Native Alaska and the historical past of this land and its individuals – the varied clans and tribes that have been right here earlier than explorers and ultimately settlers violently up-ended their lifestyle and their respectful use of the land and its assets.

Glacier up shut

Mendenhall Glacier within the distance

So “THE DAY” got here to rise up shut and private with the well-known Mendenhall Glacier in our nation’s largest forest, the Tongass National Forest. We canoed a hefty distance throughout Mendenhall Lake to achieve the glacier and strapped on all types of drugs to traverse the icy and admittedly, unworldly terrain. Given the acute haze, the solar was an unsettling, deep crimson excessive up within the sky and the colours have been muted, besides for the acute blue of the glacier’s numerous options. Our guides described the Mendenhall as “unhealthy” – it’s retreating at a fast fee and what you’re seeing in my footage won’t be there in ~50 years until severe adjustments happen (here are historic “then” and “now” footage to place the dramatic retreat additional into perspective).

Hiking up the Mendenhall Glacier
Teetering on the sting of a crevasse!


We CAN make a distinction!

Though I packed fleece jackets, gloves, hats, and rain gear, a warmth wave coupled with wildfires and a drought made for a highly regarded, smoky/hazy ambiance. It hit 90F whereas there – stifling for locals and companies given only a few have air con. Globally, it was the hottest June on record.

Clearly, the impacts of climate change have an effect on aren’t simply impacting the atmosphere and wildlife. Human well being suffers too. Just days after I left Juneau, an “air emergency” was declared due to the very poor air high quality – being energetic open air was not really helpful. Can you think about residing in these circumstances within the Alaskan Frontier?! Can you think about the frustration that many skilled visiting Alaska once they couldn’t see by way of the air pollution haze to view the wonderful vistas and to be warned, “Don’t go on a hike because it’s unhealthy outside?”

Your support of this essential work actually matters

Together, we’re making a distinction on this international struggle – by beginning in our backyards right here within the Southeast to advance actually clear energy selections that scale back international warming air pollution and defend our communities and the communities of Alaska and past. Please support our efforts today! 

Finally, a “sunset” in Juneau ~11pm!

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