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Sec. Of State Blinken Visits NY Air National Guard Members

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Greenland and met with members of the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing, based in Schenectady. The unit – stationed at Stratton Air National Guard Base – flies ski-equipped C-130s designed for landing on snow and ice-covered landscapes in the Arctic and Antarctic.WAMC's Jim Levulis spoke with Jalina Porter, principal deputy spokesperson with the State Department, about the meeting.

Porter: Well, Secretary Blinken as a part of his Arctic Council ministerial meeting was in Greenland and capped his visit yesterday, meeting with members of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift to not only highlight the importance of climate diplomacy, but to show that we're taking seriously resolving our climate crisis.

Levulis: And to that point, what was discussed?

Porter: Well, it was an opportunity for the Secretary to see the good work of the men and women who are part of the New York Air National Guard. And obviously, while they're based in upstate New York, they're doing critically important scientific research to understand why the climate is changing, and what we can do to resolve this crisis.

Levulis: And you mentioned diplomacy earlier on there. How do their activities, they're typically supporting research such as with the National Science Foundation, how does that play a role in US diplomacy?

Porter: Well, yes, of course, like you said, the National Guard is there on behalf of the National Science Foundation. But again, when you talk about what they're doing, what the scientists are there doing their research is critically important to understanding what we can do, not only in the Arctic, but of course, you know, right here in New York or anywhere else in our country, what we can do around the world, with our shared goals and common interests of resolving the climate crisis. I mean, again, their research, as we would probably classify it, as mission critical.

Levulis: And in terms of diplomatic efforts, how does climate change fit into that in the sense that typically when most people think of standard diplomacy, you know, it's not necessarily, you know, kind of scientific, climate change discussions?

Porter: Well, I think this administration is turning that around. I mean, I did say before, I guess the catch phrase, if you will, “climate diplomacy” and I say that because it's important to the Biden-Harris administration to make sure that we center our foreign policy around the climate crisis, because this isn't something that just impacts our communities and families in the Mohawk and Hudson River valleys. But this impacts families in the Mississippi Valley River, as well as the Mekong River over in Asia. This is a worldwide, you know, issue. And this is something that we want to handle together. You know, we can't do this alone. Obviously, there are, you know, large emitters all around the world. And we want to make sure that we're coming together as partners and allies who actually do have this common challenge of this crisis, to figure out how we can you know, forge a better future.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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