President Obama will become the first sitting commander in chief to visit the Alaskan Arctic, the White House announced Thursday, the latest in a string of stops this summer that have been presidential firsts.
In a trip from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, Obama will visit the state's rapidly melting glaciers and meet with hunters and fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened by global warming as he seeks to draw attention to his fight against climate change.
Last month, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit both Kenya and Ethiopia.
In a video released Thursday from the vacation home he's staying at here, Obama said he's going to Alaska because it is on the "front lines of one of the greatest challenges we face this century."
"You see, climate change once seemed like a problem for future generations, but for most Americans, it's already a reality," he said.
He listed deeper droughts, longer wildfire seasons and floods as evidence of the current effects.
"What's happening in Alaska isn't just a preview of what will happen to the rest of us if we don't take action," he said. "It's our wake-up call. The alarm bells are ringing. And as long as I'm president, America will lead the world to meet this threat — before it's too late."
Later in September, Obama plans to talk with Pope Francis about climate change when the pontiff visits the White House during a tour of the northeastern U.S., as both prepare for an international climate summit in Paris in December.
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