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The Arctic Is On The Brink: Here’s Why You Should Care


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The Arctic Is Melting And It Will Affect Everyone, Not Just Polar Bears

The Arctic is melting fast and that’s bad for everyone, not just the polar bears. As part of his continued push for climate action, President Obama will visit Alaska next week to draw attention to the Arctic and the effect of climate change on the region. On Monday in Anchorage, the president and Secretary of State Kerry will host GLACIER, a climate change conference where world leaders will discuss strategies to address rapid regional warming and advance ideas for strengthening Arctic community resilience.

The overall goal of the visit is to highlight the fact that the effects of Arctic warming–accelerated by climate change–will extend far beyond the region itself. Our colleagues at CAP created this explainer video, which illustrates (literally) why you should care that the Arctic is melting. Here are a few of the key points:

  • The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. This rapid warming is causing glaciers, sea ice, and Greenland’s massive ice shelf to melt. Runoff from all this melting is causing sea levels to rise, maybe even faster than we originally predicted. Sea levels have already risen 8 inches and could rise another 4 feet by the end of the century.
  • Communities across the globe are at risk of costly or devastating flooding. In the United States, 123 million people, the majority in the lower 48 states, are at risk of sea level rise from Arctic melting. For people who live in the Arctic the situation is even grimmer as the sea ice that provides a buffer for coastal communities from severe storms is melting away. More than 30 Alaska Native villages are experiencing flooding and erosion and are literally at risk of sliding into rising waters.
  • Wildfires in the region could lead to more carbon emissions. This summer, record wildfires have burned over 5 million acres in Alaska. These fires can thaw pre-historic permafrost, which is responsible for storing carbon. As a result, thawing permafrost could increase the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, accelerating global climate change even further.

But there is action that can be taken to avoid the worst effects of Arctic warming:

  • Secure a strong global climate deal in Paris. At the December United Nations climate change conference in Paris, over 190 countries will work to reach a global climate deal to avoid catastrophic warming. Only time can tell how strong an international pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may be. A solid and ambitious agreement will not only slow overall climate change, but will also protect the fastest warming region on Earth: the Arctic.
  • Cut black carbon and methane pollution. Black carbon, or soot, from eight Arctic nations is responsible for one-third of the recent Arctic warming. That means the remaining two-thirds of Arctic warming due to black carbon emissions comes from the rest of the world, highlighting the need for global action to cut black carbon, which comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Methane, which also comes from fossil fuel combustion, is a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. Committing to cut short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon and methane is one of the fastest ways world leaders can slow melting in the Arctic. After all, continued sea ice melt is encouraging increased oil and gas development… and more climate change culprits.

Still not convinced Arctic warming matters? Watch the video.

BOTTOM LINE: Melting ice caps and rising seas may sound like far-off problems that will have an isolated impact. But the fact that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet is bad news for everyone, not just the region’s people and wildlife.

It’s been a long time since Ohio was bluer than Pennsylvania


  • OH, PA-Sen: It’s another round of topsy-turvy polling from Quinnipiac, which somehow has decided that Ohio is a bluer state than Pennsylvania. The problem with this view is that such a situation hasn’t occured since 1948 (Dewey Defeats Truman… in Pennsylvania but not Ohio), and there’s no reason to think it will next year. But here comes Quinnipiac with a Keystone sample that’s an even 33 percent Democratic and 33 percent Republican, while their Buckeye respondents are 30 percent Democratic to just 27 percent Republican. That odd divergence seems to be at least partly reflected in the Senate toplines, which show GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania in good shape but continue to find his fellow Republican from Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman, looking weak. Toomey leads ex-Rep. Joe Sestak by a 48-33 spread and beats the newest entrant in the Democratic primary, Katie McGinty, by a similar 48-32 margin. That’s not too different from the 47-36 edge Toomey sported over Sestak back in June, but it’s a very different picture from what PPP saw in May, when they put Toomey ahead just 42-38. Portman, on the other hand, trails ex-Gov. Ted Strickland 44-41, which, once again, is not a big change from the 46-40 advantage Strickland held in June. (Portman does beat up on little-known Cincinnati City Councilor P.G. Sittenfeld, 46-25.) In this case, PPP’s most recent survey, also from June, found a competitive contest but was still more bearish for Team Blue, putting Portman on top 43-41. So you have one pollster, Quinnipiac, regularly saying that Ohio looks better for Democrats than Pennsylvania on the Senate front, while another, PPP, has found both about equally competitive. It’s not impossible that Quinnipiac could be right—after all, candidate quality does matter, and Strickland’s a more impressive recruit than either Sestak or McGinty. But their survey demographics still don’t make sense: PPP, by contrast, had a +3 Democratic sample in Ohio but +9 Democratic in Pennsylvania. As between these two pollsters, Quinnipiac’s departure from reasonable expectations makes PPP’s results feel a lot more trustworthy.

Gubernatorial:

  • KY-Gov: The Democratic super PAC Kentucky Family Values is up with a new TV spot accusing Republican Matt Bevin of having a history of not paying his taxes. The spot echoes a recent ad from Democrat Jack Conway, and we should expect to see a lot of commercials like this as we get closer to Election Day.
  • ND-Gov: With GOP Gov. Jack Dalrymple opting against a re-election bid on Monday, we’ve immediately into the “everyone’s name’s getting tossed in the hopper” phase of the campaign. Fortunately, Mike Nowatzki at InForum has donned his Great Mentioner galoshes and waded right in. For Democrats, of course, there’s Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who isn’t ruling out a bid, as well as her brother, ex-state Sen. and current radio host Joel Heitkamp, who says he’d defer to his sister. Robert Haider, the state Democratic Party chair, also suggests former U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon; state Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider; former state Rep. and USDA official director Jasper Schneider; and state Sen. George Sinner of Fargo, who unsuccessfully ran for House last year. For the Republicans, the two top names who are publicly considering are Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, though according to an unnamed source cited by Roll Call, they’re trying to work out a deal to avoid running against one another. However, neither man has said anything publicly about such an arrangement. Another candidate who could spice things up is wealthy businessman Doug Burgum, who sold a software company to Microsoft almost 15 years ago for over a $1 billion. Burgum, now a local developer, has been a major GOP donor, but he says he could run as an independent. That could really mess with Republicans and potentially open the door for a Democrat other than Heidi Heitkamp. But here’s a nightmare scenario to consider: Imagine if the Democrats win back four Senate seats in Nov. 2016 while holding the White House, leaving the chamber split at 50 members for each side, with the vice president breaking ties in favor of the Democrats. At the same time, though, if Heitkamp were to run for governor and win, she’d be forced to resign her Senate seat, and, thanks to a law the GOP passed earlier this year, she couldn’t appoint a replacement—there would be a special election instead. Painfully, control of the Senate would then revert back to the Republicans. Oy!

House:

  • FL-02: While physician Neal Dunn’s past donations to Democrats have enraged conservative activists, he has plenty of establishment support for his primary with Mary Thomas. Dunn recently picked up an endorsement from former state Senate President Don Gaetz, who still represents much of the area. Dunn also has the backing of former state House Speaker Allan Bense, though Bense has been out of office for almost a decade.
  • IL-08: The Democratic primary to succeed Rep. Tammy Duckworth is about to get a bit more rocky, as Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel just announced her entry into the race. Roll Call‘s Eli Yokley hinted at just this possibility a month ago, suggesting that EMILY’s List might be looking for a woman to back. (EMILY and Bullwinkel have been in touch, but there’s been no endorsement yet.) Bullwinkel faces two other notable Democrats: businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who has crushed it in early fundraising, and state Sen. Mike Noland, who very much hasn’t. Republicans aren’t likely to have much of a shot at this solidly blue seat.
  • IL-15: It’s behind the paywall at the Rothenberg-Gonzales Political Report, but Nathan Gonzales graciously shares word with us that state Sen. Kyle McCarter is considering challenging longtime Rep. John Shimkus in the GOP primary. McCarter hasn’t said much publicly but he’s close to Family-PAC, an influential social conservative group. Shimkus has a solidly conservative voting record but after ten terms in the House, it’s quite possible that restless primary voters will be looking for someone new. Romney carried this rural Downstate seat 64-34, so it should stay red regardless of what happens.
  • MI-01: On Sunday, former Kalkaska County Sheriff and 2014 Democratic nominee Jerry Cannon announced that he would seek a rematch with Republican incumbent Dan Benishek. The Democratic establishment was not impressed by Cannon’s last bid: While they liked his law-and-order profile, they felt that his fundraising was weak. Local Democrats have largely consolidated behind former state party chair Lon Johnson.

Other Races:

  • Nashville Mayor: We don’t have too long to go before the Sept. 10 runoff between Councilor Megan Barry and former Metro Nashville School Board Chairman David Fox, and the endorsements are beginning to come in. Barry, who is popular with progressives, recently earned the backing of former Mayor and Gov. Phil Bredesen. Barry has also been cleaning up with current and former elected officials, and she recently earned the backing of the Nashville Firefighters. Few organizations have gotten behind Fox so far, though the local Fraternal Order of Police did just endorse him.

Grab Bag:

  • FL Redistricting: Last week, the Florida legislature melted down in epic fashion when Republicans in the state House and Senate could not agree on a new congressional map, despite the exceedingly minor differences between each side’s proposal. But that inter-branch hostility is just a prelude to the intense battle that’s about to unfold within the Senate itself, as lawmakers prepare for another special session to redraw the lines for the upper chamber in October. That’s because Senate Republicans are split between two bitterly opposed ideological factions. One is led by state Sen. Jack Latvala and is more moderate, coastal, and supported by some trial lawyers and teachers. The other is headed by state Sen. Joe Negron, whose followers are more classically conservative. Both men are vying to become the Senate’s next president, and Negron has recently claimed he has more GOP backers lined up—something that Latvala didn’t dispute. But a new map could scramble everything, especially if the next leadership election doesn’t take place until after new members are seated. There’s also the possibility that Latvala could try to win the presidency on the strength of Democratic support, which of course would send the Negron camp through the roof. So expect another major showdown in Tallahassee very soon—one even more explosive than the last.
  • WATN?: Amidst the very sad family news, it’s good to see that Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason, who ran for governor of Georgia last year, will be taking over as chairman of the Carter Center’s board of trustees. The Carter Center has done amazing charitable work over the years in advancing human rights and fighting diseases, leading to a Nobel Prize for President Carter in 2002.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, and Daniel Donner.