By Yereth Rosen
The Christian Science Monitor
November 14, 2007
"Tourists still flock to Alaska to see Mount McKinley and ice caves, but a small and steady stream of visitors now head to the last frontier to see thawing tundra, crumbling glaciers, and ailing forests. Take Shishmaref, an Inupiat Eskimo village on the state's remote northwest coast. Known for exquisite ivory carvings and high-quality seal oil, it lures travelers these days because of its precarious perch on melting land.
When a team of scientists and religious leaders arrived in August, a highlight of the tour was viewing a house that had tumbled over the edge of the beach bluff; A storm had cut 20 feet from the shoreline previously held fast by frozen permafrost and sea-ice buildup.
"To many of us, Alaska is the distant early-warming system for the future of climate change," says Eric Chivian of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, which organized the trip. Because Alaska is heating up more than five times faster than the world as a whole, scientists, congressmen, foreign dignitaries, and the curious are coming to see the effects of global warming firsthand...,
"There is that sense that Alaska's going to change because [change] is inevitable, so let's see it before it changes," says Kirk Hoessle, owner of Alaska Wildland Adventures. Clients become more aware of the warming impacts in Alaska when they see the vast stretches of beetle-killed trees on the Kenai Peninsula or learn about the recent spate of lightning-strike fires that are uncharacteristic for the region, he says."
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