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The President’s Travelogue … Alaska: Day 2

The White House, Washington


The President is touring through Alaska this week, meeting with residents of the state and seeing the effects of climate change on the ground. He’s sharing what he sees along the way. Read his entry from yesterday below, and follow along with the trip here.

Hi, everyone — checking in on day two. Right off the bat, I’ll note that I’ve got to come back here once I’m done being President.

You just can’t see Alaska in three days.

I spent the day hiking through Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park — where the mountains collide with the ocean and fields of ice. When the team handed over the camera, I did my best to do this place justice:

Watch the President's travelogue.

Visitors from around the world come here to see its Harding Icefield — one of the largest ice fields in the United States — covering hundreds of square miles. As the climate warms, glaciers are shrinking more and more rapidly — and throughout the park, there are signs marking where the glacier line used to be.

This is as good of a signpost as any when it comes to the impacts of climate change.

Markers throughout Exit Glacier show how much it's receded over time.

I also had the chance to tour the area by boat and experience the beauty and wildlife of Resurrection Bay. It was spectacular to see the horizon of ice and snow, but it’s melting. And if we don’t act, this simply won’t be here for future generations to enjoy.

Resurrection Bay

Glaciers in Alaska, and the greater Arctic, are shrinking and it’s changing the way Alaskans live. And considering the Arctic’s unique role in influencing the global climate, it will accelerate changes to the way that we all live. Since 1979, the summer sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by more than 40%, a decrease that has dramatically accelerated over the past two decades.

One new study estimates that Alaska’s glaciers alone lose about 75 gigatons — that’s 75 billion tons — of ice each year. What does a gigaton look like? To put that in perspective, one scientist described a gigaton of ice as a block the size of the National Mall in Washington — from Congress all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, four times as tall as the Washington Monument. Now imagine 75 of those ice blocks. That’s what Alaska’s glaciers alone lose…each year.

And the pace of melting is only getting faster.

It’s now twice what it was between 1950 and 2000 — twice as fast as it was just a little over a decade ago. And it’s one of the reasons why sea levels rose by about eight inches over the last century, and why they’re projected to rise another one to four feet this century.

If we do nothing, temperatures in Alaska are projected to rise between six and 12 degrees by the end of the century, triggering more melting, more fires, more thawing of the permafrost, a negative feedback loop, a cycle — warming leading to more warming — that we do not want to be a part of.

The fact is that climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it. That must change — and we’re not acting fast enough.

We need to make sure our grandkids can see this.

Watch the President's travelogue.

President Barack Obama

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Demand Tyson Foods transform industrial meat production

Last month our Palm Oil Action Team took action at Hillshire Brands’ HQ in Chicago to call out the company’s use of Conflict Palm Oil,Last month our Palm Oil Action Team took action at Hillshire Brands’ HQ in Chicago to call out the company’s use of Conflict Palm Oil, known for its massive climate and human rights footprint. But that’s not all Hillshire is known for. As of last year, Hillshire is owned by Tyson Foods, one of the biggest and most egregious meat producers in the world.

Raise your voice! Demand change at Tyson Foods!

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The food giant has unprecedented control over the nation’s meat supply and is the biggest poultry producer in the world. The system of chicken production that Tyson has built keeps farmers in a state of indebted servitude, living on the edge of bankruptcy, and takes a huge toll on the climate.

Altogether, our industrial system of agriculture is driving roughly one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, largely from tropical deforestation/land conversion for livestock and commodity feed crops, methane emissions from the prevalent industrial/factory farming model of animal production, and food sector emissions like manufacturing processed foods.

Corporations like Tyson Foods, through its factory farm industrial model of production, are driving runaway climate change, increased levels of corporate control, high levels of food waste, forest loss and fragmentation, soil erosion, water scarcity and pollution, loss of biodiversity—both genetic diversity of crops and threatened extinction of key species, food insecurity, and racial inequity.

Please take action today to demand that the biggest and most destructive global meat producers, starting with Tyson Foods, adopt a comprehensive policy that includes strict environmental and social safeguards for palm oil and meat production that will break its link to the destruction of rainforests, peatlands and the abuse of communities, workers and animals. This policy should include data on rainforest conversion, GHG emissions, biodiversity, and water impacts for its palm oil, meat and feed businesses.

For a Responsible Food System,