ANTHC’s Climate Change Adaptation ProgramMay 27, 2016
ANTHC is co-locating a Climate Change Adaptation Program with the Denali Commission’s Environmentally Threatened Communities Program. Program Manager Don Antrobus will work with the Commission’s Federal Co-chair, Director of Programs and Commissioners, as well as federal agencies, the State of Alaska and local stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to support community resiliency in the face of climate change.
Climate change is an important issue to the health of our people and our communities. Over the past 60 years, the average temperature across Alaska has increased by approximately 3 degrees. Warming temperatures in the winter have increased by an average of 6 degrees. This increase is more than twice the warming seen in the rest of the U.S. In arctic regions of Alaska, communities are being damaged by powerful storm surges; shorelines that were originally protected by sea ice are being battered, and the long-term existence of these rural Alaska communities is being threatened. Permafrost is melting and large sinkholes are opening, causing damage to homes and infrastructure.
ANTHC and the Indian Health Service are committed to adapting to the changes and challenges associated with climate change. In May 2014, both agencies signed a funding agreement reaffirming their collaboration and cooperative efforts and agreed to create initiatives and interventions for climate change adaptations.
President Obama is also committed to leading the fight against climate change by curbing the carbon pollution that is driving global warming, building resilience in American communities to the climate impacts we can no longer avoid, and driving progress on the international stage. This commitment, as well as the President’s broader commitment to conservation and climate action, is evident following the President’s announcement in August 2015 that the Denali Commission will play a lead coordination role for Federal, State, and Tribal resources to assist communities in developing and implementing both short and long-term solutions to address the impacts of climate change, including coastal erosion, flooding, and permafrost degradation.
The program has important work to begin: the U.S. Government Accountability Office has identified 31 Alaska communities that are threatened by climate change. Of those, four were considered to be dire: Newtok, Kivalina, Shishmaref and Shaktoolik.
“What’s happening in Alaska isn’t just a preview of what will happen to the rest of us if we don’t take action,” Obama said in a video previewing his visit to Alaska. “It’s our wakeup call.”