Tons of snow are brought into Anchorage by train earlier this month to provide a backdrop for the start of the Iditarod dog sled race. The city has experienced record high winter temperatures. Photograph: Rachel D’Oro/AP
Oliver Milman @olliemilman
Saturday 26 March 2016 07.30 EDT Last modified on Saturday 26 March 2016 08.11 EDT
As Alaskans go to the polls in the Democratic caucuses on Saturday, one of the most pressing issues should be what is staring them in the face – or, rather, what isn’t: snow and ice.
‘There was just no snow’: climate change puts Iditarod future in doubt
“I’m looking out of the window here in Anchorage and I can just see grass instead of snow,” said Andy Moderow, state director of not-for-profit group Alaska Wilderness Action.
Moderow grew up dog-sledding but said record temperatures have effectively wiped out Alaska’s winter, meaning a miserable time for those who enjoy snow sports.
“There has basically been no snow on the ground all winter in Anchorage. When I was younger, the Iditarod sled race went from Anchorage to Wasilla but there’s no snow there now.
“The changes are all around us. It’s very rare to have multiple winters like this in a row. When you see ski races not take place, grass instead of snow, villages falling into the oceans, you realise the impacts are real.”
But while Alaska is clearly on the melting edge of climate change, this fundamental shift barely registered in the Republican caucus held earlier in March and won by Ted Cruz. Even though Democratic candidates have been more willing to discuss climate change, the topic hasn’t been front and centre ahead of Saturday’s caucus.
It is an absence that has been felt in presidential primaries and caucuses across the US, including states that have been ravaged by drought or sea level rise. In a desperate attempt to reverse the lack of environmental focus, a group of Florida mayors begged CNN to quiz Republicans about sea level rise at a debate held in Miami.
Global Climate Change