Anchorage, Alaska (CNN)To hear the White House describe Alaska, the state has become the canary in the climate change coal mine, complete with raging wildfires, accelerating ice melt in the arctic, vanishing glaciers and whole villages forced to relocate away from rising seas.
President Barack Obama will carry that urgent message to Alaska this week in the hopes his long journey away from his busy agenda in Washington will begin to change the national conversation on global warming.
His first step while he’s there: officially renaming the country’s tallest mountain from Mt. McKinley to Denali, an historic nod to the region’s native population, which the White House says is under threat from the already-present threat of climate change.
“This is all real. This is happening to our fellow Americans right now,” Obama said in his weekly address Saturday.