Alaska: The Last Frontier.
What on earth can the state known for such gems as the History Channel's Ice Road Truckers and that ever-famous Palin family teach Americans? The answer, it turns out, is a whole lot.
Because of its proximity to the arctic circle & the variety of environments it possesses, Alaska has long been the place to learn more about climate change, namely, global warming. With this year's record-breaking temperatures and severe glacier declination, environmentalists view the state as foreshadowing for a hotter planet. If what happens in the arctic doesn't stay in the arctic and the world chooses to ignore this fast-approaching problem, then the contiguous United States better watch out. Or know how to swim.
Last week, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski became the third Republican Senator to come out in favor of marriage equality. This revelation reflects the balance in Alaskan politics. For one, both Murkowski and junior Sen. Mark Begich have relatively moderate voting records. Though Alaska is an undeniably Republican state, issues that are strictly red or blue in the Lower 48 — such as environmental policies & gun control — blur party lines up in the last frontier. Politicians vote on principle instead of party affiliation. Additionally, the radicals that Alaska is known for — Sarah Palin & Joe Miller anyone? — were defeated at the ballot box, or, in Palin's case, left without too much griping.
Although Alaska has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country, it also has an incredibly low rate of gun violence. In fact, in Alaska homicides (already a low statistic), less than half of the murder weapons are guns. Why is this? From a young age, Alaskans are accustomed to guns, taught they are an aid used for hunting rather than a dangerous weapon against people. Secondly, gun education is promoted way more than gun control. That methodology may be against the country's current grain, but with statistics like these, it's hard to argue with.
Despite possessing the largest crude oil reserves in the country, most Alaska homes are funded by alternative energy resources namely hydroelectric power & natural gas. Why is this, since America’s favorite fuel is in massive abundance just a float-plane ride away? The answer, is incentives. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation offers huge cash rebates to Alaska homes that qualify as energy efficient, breaking it down by levels — the greener your home is, the greener your wallet. If other states or the federal government offered similar incentives, perhaps the United States could stop qualifying as one of the least environmental friendly countries in the world.
In today's 24/7 culture, everything seems so immediately urgent. Every work email must be answered, every bit of conflict solved before calling it a day. But in a no-frills state like Alaska, citizens from all walks of life face the same daily struggles. Even if you're an oil CEO or a state Senator, at the end of the day, you still have to shovel your driveway's three-foot snow drifts and make sure your car is plugged in for the night. So live your life, be a superhero at work, but eventually sit back and relax, taking in your porch's scenic view of Russia. But seriously, be human, because that's all we can be.