Young Alaskans Address Climate Change: A Reflection from the Eco-Advocacy and Communications Intern

Written by Carly Dennis, Eco-Advocacy and Communications Intern

Carly Dennis participated in an Environmental Rhetoric Course on the Inian Islands.

As a 20 year old, lifelong Alaskan resident, I have a deep love for my state and I care about its future.  That is why I’m very worried about the speed and totality of a changing climate. As a young person, I worry for the future of my generation. So I joined Sitka Conservation Society as the Eco-Advocacy Intern through the Alaska Conservation Foundation’s Ted Smith Conservation Internship program.

During my internship, I attended the Young Leaders’ Dialogue hosted by the Governor's Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team. I was one of 25 young people who weighed in on the team’s draft climate change policy. Everyone agreed: we need to take action now.

Alaska’s youth from every corner of our state can see the reality of a rapidly warming climate as a result of human use of fossil fuels. I see it in the dramatically warm winters I’ve lived through in my home of Southcentral Alaska; where there was once infallible snow and ice, we now have grey and muddy rains that bring destructive windstorms, vicious freeze-thaw cycles, and the loss of tradition, culture, and identity.

Photo by Crossroads Photographic Workshop

In my internship, I learned that Sitka is uniquely able to combat climate change. As an old-growth forest, the Tongass National Forest surrounding us acts as a globally vital carbon sink. This means that to combat climate change, we must keep the Tongass intact to ensure that it continues to absorb and store carbon.

We can also lower our carbon footprint and mitigate the impacts of climate change on a local level. I have been impressed to see Sitkans already pursuing many of these solutions. The Sitka Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby advocates for a national carbon fee and dividend, and the Sitka Carbon Reducers Group aims to reduce carbon emissions at a local level. My generation recognizes that this work is crucial to addressing climate change here in Alaska; I hope to see more of my peers engaged in these efforts as we move forward and I hope to see our political leaders finally step up and think about my generation. The future of our state depends on it.

Carly Dennis tables with Stand for Salmon in Haines at the Southeast State Fair. 

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  • Carly Dennis
    published this page in Stories 2019-01-16 11:46:19 -0900

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