Historian Douglas Brinkley reminds us that the Alaskan wilderness is not just a bartering chip in energy debates, but a treasure in its own right.
It's pretty common—in environmental policy wonk circles, at least—to hear the Alaskan wilderness talked about like it's some sort of bargaining chip. "If we allow drilling in ANWR, we can get a hard cap on utility emissions." Or "Such-and-such big logo environmental organization is willing to concede drilling off the Florida coast if Alaska is protected."
It's hard to actually fathom a place as distant, remote, and exotic as the Alaskan wilderness, and so it's far too rare that we talk about the importance of preserving it for its own existential sake.
On Morning Joe, historian Douglas Brinkley, did just that, offering an eloquent and thoughtful defense for the region's natural riches.
Brinkley spent time in Alaska while working on his latest book, The Quiet World, and is outspoken in his support for its preservation. Personally, I find it interesting that the two politicians most responsible for protecting the Alaskan wilderness over the years were both Republicans: Teddy Roosevelt, who first acted to protect the region from "hyper industrialization," as Brinkley puts it, and Dwight Eisenhower, who formally created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
You can only imagine those two great Republicans rolling in their graves whenever anyone chants, "Drill Baby Drill."