Alaska is burning, baking and melting

Last summer, in July of 2019, Alaska saw it’s hottest month on record. The impact? Melting sea ice, wildfires and unexpected die-offs. I happened to be there in person to experience this historic moment in our unfolding climate crisis. I traveled through Seward, once a quaint tourist town known for it’s seafood, enveloped in smoke from wildfires; the lady at the Visitor Center overwhelmed by panicking tourists. We were a part of those tourists. The smoke was so thick that it made our eyes water, our throats parched and scratchy. We drove along Alaska’s wide open space, to Talkeetna. Along the way, we saw thousands of Birch trees dying. In the town of Talkeetna, there were more dead Birch trees, marked off with yellow tape. The trees were dying due to mass beetle attacks exacerbated by the record breaking heat Alaska was experiencing. We saw more of these dead trees as we traveled south. When we drove through Hatcher Pass, we stopped by a river to take pictures. The shot I took had a haunting beauty, with the backdrop of the dead Birch trees hinting at what was once was a paradise on earth. I recently performed accidental reverse google search on the picture I took. As serendipity would have it, a photographer had stopped in the exact same spot we did, in 2015, to take the very same picture. What are the chances?

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