The Future of the Arctic (part one)

Huffington Post published an article titled, “The Future of the Arctic (part one).” The article reads in part as follows;

“Because the ocean is so wide, deep, and dynamic, sometimes it is best to look inside the larger perspective and examine the conditions and challenges of one area that, indeed, might stand for all. One regions that serves, of course, is the Arctic, the full circumpolar Arctic Ocean with all the diverse conditions, resources, and needs that are both specific and generally representative of the many issues faced elsewhere.

First, there is the problem of governance. The Arctic region is divided among eight nations with national claims and jurisdictions that often conflict, overlap, and confuse, much like the larger ocean but at a lesser scale. Efforts have been made to coordinate and resolve interests through a multi-national process in the form of the Arctic Council, a concurrence of nation states with direct claim on Arctic territory augmented by observer nations with self-proclaimed interests. So while China and Brazil have no geographic relationship to they Arctic interest, they do lay claim to a second tier of engagement. A third tier comprising other political entities, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, educational and research institutions, environmental groups, for-profit associations, and interested individuals convenes separately as the Arctic Circle to present and debate, support and challenge the more formal machinations of the Council. It is a lively conversation.

The Council leadership passes from one member state to another every two years; the United States held the chair from 2015 to 2017 when it passed the responsibility to Finland. The stated goals are lofty. The US priorities were Arctic Ocean Safety, Security, and Stewardship; Improving Arctic Economic and Living Conditions; and Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change. Truth, of course, is in the details, more specifically in the research goals, actual implementation, and financial commitments. The US expressed ambitious intent, but as with so many issues these were impeded by climate politics, budget cuts, and indifference to a problem and place out of mind; as a result, its successes were limited. Much was to be invested in observation and research to confront identified problems of acidification, black carbon, biodiversity, meteorological forecasting, the melting of sea ice, long-term observations, health problems and delivery, air quality, water and sanitation, renewable energy, transportation, ship safety and operations, renewable energy, communications, and social matters, such as secondary education, high unemployment, domestic violence and suicide rates.”

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