President Barack Obama followed up his disgraceful speech in Las Vegas last week with an insulting tour of Alaska, which included another disgraceful speech, from Monday, 31st August, through Wednesday, 2nd September. In his speech to the Arctic Conference in Anchorage, the President claimed that “[F]ew things will disrupt our lives as profoundly as climate change. Few things can have as negative an impact on our economy as climate change.”
The President’s speech was full of high-sounding sentiments as well as the usual junk science and even junkier economics, but he couldn’t resist a few low blows: “So the time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. The time to plead ignorance is surely past. Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They’re on their own shrinking island.”
President Obama used Alaska as a backdrop for his climate agenda, while carefully avoiding sights of any of the damaging effects of his policies on Alaskans. He did not visit King Cove in the Aleutians, where the refusal of the Department of the Interior to allow building an eleven-mile road to the nearest town with access to medical care endangers the lives of its residents whenever bad weather makes helicopter and boat travel impossible. He did not visit the site of the proposed Pebble Mine, which the EPA is blocking. He did not visit the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where he adamantly opposes oil production.
Instead, President Obama looked at a receding glacier and became the first sitting president to travel north of the Arctic Circle. He also cleverly announced that Mount McKinley would be officially re-named Denali. The name of the National Park created in 1917 that contains the highest mountain in North America was re-named Denali in 1980. Rather than change some of his administration’s destructive policies, the president opted to please Alaskans with this cheap symbolism.
While the trip did gain widespread media coverage for the President’s climate agenda, it also raised claims of hypocrisy from environmental pressure groups. They noted that while he was talking climate, his administration was going ahead with allowing oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean’s Chukchi Sea.
A more substantive setback occurred at the Arctic Conference. It concluded with the signing of a declaration on climate change and the necessity for action. Russia, China, and India declined to sign the declaration. The President in his speech to the conference had touted his climate agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was signed last year in Beijing.