It might be common for most Alaskans to hear that the Governor of Alaska visited Nome, but what if a Governor from the Lower 48 stopped by instead?
Governor Jerry Brown of California was in Nome earlier this week to witness hands-on climate change research in this area and learn about Native perspective on the environmental issue:
“My staff made some arrangements, and we got to talk to some Native Alaskans, and we also went out there (Council) and looked at the permafrost, actually put a pole in the ground and made contact with the ice, and heard from the researchers from the University of Alaska and the University of California. So, it was very helpful and very informative.”
Among those Native Alaskans the Governor met were Sandy and Carleton Tahbone, Austin Ahmasuk, and Vera Metcalf. Vera’s husband Bob Metcalf said of his experience with the Governor, “for me, it was pretty cool to meet the legendary Jerry Brown.”
Brown says it would be potentially enlightening for more of the world to hear from Native Alaskans and their perspective on climate change, as well:
“Our chances of going thousands of years are close to zero, if not zero, so we need to learn from Native peoples’ sustainability, and understand what is a society that’s based on subsistence, and what is the price of all our surplus?”
The Governor of California has personally taken on the issue of climate change and was representing his state at the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia after his two-day visit to Nome and Council. Brown says his knowledge of climate change has been broadened by his time spent in Western Alaska:
“First of all, I know from my own conversations with scientists that the Arctic area is warming at 2 to 2½ times the global average. Secondly, the issue of the permafrost and the methane that could be released into CO2, we’re talking about 2,000 gigatons that would absolutely overwhelm any effort to curb climate change.”
According to Brown, researchers he has spoken to are uncertain about when the numerous tons of CO2 will be released from the melting permafrost in the Arctic, so more research will have to be done.
Regardless of what Brown learned about climate change after his first interactions with Nome and the region, the Governor will go home with a more defined palette for subsistence foods — or as he puts it, “I enjoyed moose more than I did whale,” said Brown.
Governor Brown is currently back in his home state of California and says he would like to visit Nome again in the future, although he is unsure as to if or when that would happen.
Image at top: Governor Jerry Brown of California poses for a picture with Sandy and Carleton Tahbone, Austin Ahmasuk, and others. Photo Credit: Office of Gov. Jerry Brown, used with permission (2017).