Why Obama Is the First President to Visit the Arctic
Presidential trip to Arctic city highlights a region at risk – and tries to turn it into a climate-change moment.
When President Barack Obama touches down in tiny Kotzebue, Alaska, on Wednesday, he'll visit a region where environmental change is already altering daily life.
Caribou populations that Inupiat rely on for food recently dropped by more than half. A seal hunt that used to last three weeks was transformed this spring into a treacherous three-day slog across thinning ice. Warming temperatures and melting permafrost are changing how Arctic residents harvest everything from salmon berries to birds and fish.
Yet as the first sitting president to visit the U.S. Arctic travels through several Alaskan cities this week to highlight threats posed by global warming, Obama faces criticism on many fronts: that he's not doing more to outfox