Global Warming in the Arctic

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Where’s the Ice? [The Cats Jungle / Flickr]

The New Year in the depth of winter seems like a good time to look north and make some resolutions about how to deal with the rapid warming in one of the world’s iciest places: the Arctic.

Many of us are only slowly waking up to the fact that global warming is going to have real impacts on our daily lives — Hurricane Katrina may have been one warning — but in the far north it’s already a startling reality. The Arctic is the proverbial canary in the climate-change coal mine. And that canary isn’t looking very healthy to many Arctic residents whose subsistence hunting lifestyles are already threatened or compromised by dramatically changed weather and unpredictable ice.

Here are some of the things we’d like to ask this hour: How will the Arctic nations divide up control over the Arctic “pie” — which, surprisingly, has not yet officially happened? What new kinds of commerce will exist if the ice opens up — as it’s soon predicted to do — during the summer months? New shipping routes? New or shifted fishing grounds? Ironically (given that fossil fuels produce much of the carbon dioxide that causes global warming) the Arctic contains about 1/4 of the world’s untapped oil & gas resources. Under thick cover of ice, these were hard to exploit and transport — but the melt opens up huge new opportunities that underscore the building political tensions and business interests.

What do you want to know?

Eric Larsen

Member of the One World Expedition team that attempted to ski and canoe across the Arctic Ocean last summer — to collect data and raise awareness of global warming.

Dog musher, white-water canoe guide, and environmental educator.

Jim McCarthy

Professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University.

A leader in the international effort to tackle global warming — co-chaired a Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Robert Corell

Chair of the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

Oceanographer and former Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation.

Deborah Williams

President of Alaska Conservation Solutions.

Former executive director of the Alaska Conservation Foundation.

Extra-Credit Reading

Three pieces (first, second, and third) from Andrew Revkin’s dogged reporting in the New York Times.

The 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment that involved all 8 Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Iceland, and the US).

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