Governor’s climate change task force adds science education to draft plan

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott chaired the inaugural meeting of Gov. Bill Walker’s climate change task force on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (Photo by Rachel Waldholz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Draft recommendations are coming together that could shape Alaska’s climate change policy in the future. Governor Bill Walker’s climate change task force has been working this summer to nail down some clear objectives.

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The draft climate plan already includes statements on reducing carbon emissions and diversifying the economy. But task force member Mark Masteller encouraged the group to add another one: a policy statement on science education — addressing climate change.

“This affects everybody right?” Masteller said. “So that’s why I felt like it needed to be its own policy statement.”

Masteller says the task force is still working out the details of what this additional policy statement might mean.

So far, they’ve come up with some broad suggestions, like strengthening research at the university system and adopting a statewide plan to increase science education in K-12 schools.

Masteller compares this approach to anti-smoking campaigns.

“Without an education about the impacts of smoking, we wouldn’t be able to take action as quick,” Masteller said. “So the general education and awareness of the problem or the issue is kind of fundamental to all the other things in the plan.”

The task force will be holding their next in-person meeting in Anchorage in August, and they’re hoping to present the plan to the governor by September.

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