Human caused Climate Change resulting from our CO2 emissions generated by our Carbon burning based economies and thermal energy generation — has already diminished the Arctic sea ice glacier, to half it’s former size and now NASA forecasts its total disappearance during the summer months. That is conclusively the result of our Greenhouse effect. The greenhouse gases concentrating in the atmosphere contribute to massive temperature rises in the polar region, far above the mean averages seen elsewhere throughout the planet. Atmospheric and oceanic sea warming, as well as the extreme climate change – cause super Arctic storms that further contribute to the breaking up of the ice sheet. The Arctic glacier is adversely affected and already fragmented into small piecees of floating ice, due to ggenerral shipping, military activities, ice breaker passage, oil and gas exploration, mining, resource extraction, resource shipment, transport and affiliated industrial development. Additionally all the massive deep earth penetrating seismic tests for oil and gas deposit imaging — that are performed daily in the search for oil and gas — further contribute to the break up, the cracking and the calving of the Arctic glacier. This constant search for more carbon in the form of oil and gas deposits in the sea floor beneath the Arctic sea glacier, is the worst example of economic and industrial development. An unchecked and uncaring rapacious resource exploitation development, as evidenced in the tar sands destruction of the Athabascan indigenous people’s land. The incredible devastation in the tar sands oil lands of Alberta Canada, where “Nature Mort” is not a painting but the sad reality on the ground — should never be repeated in the Arctic.
Yet now the same forces are arrayed against the Arctic ready to unleash this form of deadly development. This form of deadly development is now threatening the whole of the Arctic and the sub Arctic regions of Greenland and beyond. Because as ice melts due to tthe rising temperatures of a warming planet, oil and gas exploration and development, has arrived in the polar North. And with their seismic sounders, they have created magnificent cracks on the glacial ice layer — thereby causing further demise of the glacier at an ever expanding rate. And as the summer approaches, far more economic development arrives and that will spell the end of the summer ice completely if not within 2013, at least within a couple of years.
And we know that what we are doing is wrong — yet we march inexorably and blindly on, forgetting that when we mine and extract these fluorocarbons to burn them in our thermal energy factories for electricity or burn in our engines in order to power up our industry and transport, we contribute further to the Greenhouse phenomenon by releasing CO2 in the atmosphere and exacerbating the global warming cycle, thus causing further melt down of the ice sheet and diminishing of the Arctic sea ice completely. And as if all this was done innocently – not knowing – that we treat our atmosphere as an open sewer, we could be excused of ignorance. Yet we know all too well that the atmosphere is not an open sewer for us to dump our CO2 emissions of toxic gases. Same as we know all too well that mining the Arctic for more carbon to burn up and pollute is putting the whole human race on the treadmill, running like so many lab rats in a vicious cycle of global warming and unintended consequences.
The fabled Northwest passage to China, across the Arctic sea, is already open for unassisted navigation and shipping line passage, during the summertime. As a matter of fact it has been opened wide without nary a sign of ice bergs. SO open it is, that even cruise ships take this route now for granted and use it customarily…
And of course all the oil companies are sending their oil rigs up north steaming fast in a race against time and against each other. Even derelict and defunct oil rigs that look like rust buckets are now repainted, recommissioned, and sent away from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up North. If the Gulf of Mexico where they were rotting away is the model of economic development these piles of rust have in mind — then we are certainly doomed. We deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs if we learn nothing from the massive BP Oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Exxon Valdez in Alaska, and from all the other oil spills everywhere the industry goes. Maybe the Arctic to them is one more possible disaster area, amid so many others, that have gone unnoticed because they are too far removed from civilization. Yet we are monitoring and stand watch to prevent their spillage from the many more disasters the oil industry is known for and are yet to come.
Still we have to remain vigilant because this is the order of the day. All the Texas and Louisiana registered Oil rigs that were up to now unemployed — are now being salvaged and with a fresh coat of paint are all steaming in tow, going way up North to the Arctic sea, and a new lease on life. Good for the rigs – bad for the environment. The price of an oil rig has quadrupled in the last six months now that the Arctic is conclusively open with hardly any sea ice for the summer as was forecast by NASA and all other satellite observatories. And thus, the greatest race on Earth is on. A race to explore for oil has commenced and has seized men’s brains like a Gold Rush fever. And this mania has descended upon all the oilers and the oil major companies, big and small alike. They all have an Arctic mission with a decrepit oil rig but without an environmental statement or a disaster management response team in place. Not even oil spill collection booms and skimmers are available un North. Not even a handbook of the Arctic conditions to assist their mariners is available yet. Not a manual of Arctic operations either. We are all in the midst of the biggest oil wildcatting boom in history and nobody seems to notice or care for health and safety. Already within the Oil industry are circulated advertisements from oil companies seeking to hire workers of all kinds for their oil rigs. Untrained workers – No problem. Working permits as seamen or not — No problem. Proper paper work or not — No problem. Such is the nature of the Gold Rush fever. Cutting corners everywhere. They are bluntly stating the potential windfall as they are advertising that they are looking for rednecks and leathernecks [Oil workers] to man the Arctic bound oil rigs, but not once for a safety or environmental impact engineer. And as that motley crew junk fleet is sailing on the way up North, there is not even a simple dock in existence, let alone a safety depot or disaster response station for the whole Arctic and certainly in the whole of the daunting and dangerous Northwest Passage. No skimmers, no oil booms in deposit, no med evac and not even a Coast Guard presence from the responsible nations “owning” the Arctic territory.
Remember the meeting of the Titanic with the ice Berg? Thought so…
Well — This level of unpreparedness can be exponentially worse. Already two oil platforms steaming for the Arctic oil drillin bonanza hit the shallows in the Arctic storms this year…
Those oil drilling platforms are exactly like the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, that exploded and caused the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico less than two years ago. And as rusty as junk, they are steaming in tow, for the Arctic like ane invasion force out of Mad Max in the race for the last gallon of petrol on earth. A black fleet of destruction that is wholly unregulated by any reasonable Health and Safety body internationally, is going to be wildcatting and exploring the Arctic sea for oil and gas — starting this Summer and the repercussions are immense.
Yes — the Oil Companies describe the race to open up the Arctic as the greatest oil exploration race ever.
And of course going North is a race for riches beyond compare — if the statement that the Arctic is there for the taking-raping-pillaging, and the Atmosphere is an open sewer, and the fluorocarbon hidden inside earth’s crust, are just the industrial “blood” to be drilled for, extracted through violence, taken up, and burned for profit — is your gospel truth.
All in all, this year 2013, marks the official start of the race for development in the Arctic.
Yet as humanity we forget that we rely upon the Arctic for our very own survival. Same as we rely on our home thermostat to keep the temperature in our home constant and keep the storms outside from creeping in and making us all sick… And yet we fail to understand this simple function of the Arctic Sea Ice layer for the whole of the Earth in our wanton drive to extract and mine the place up, while we destroy it willy nilly.
We fail to recognize the complex repercussions of the Arctic Sea Ice loss to the world at large and the creation of a very unstable environment and weather globally. But perhaps most importantly, we also fail to see the impacts to the natural, social and cultural landscapes of the Arctic and sub-Arctic area itself. Although the implications of these changes, including their global impact, have yet to be comprehensively monitored, evaluated, understood and communicated — we are going full steam ahead — not knowing if we are sailing at the edge of the cataract or not.
Still we must be clear: More time and resources are needed to be invested in order to comprehensively analyse the multilayered and multiform interactions connecting global and Arctic processes, through an international and interdisciplinary approach. This much is required at a minimum before we allow oil and gas exploration to commence in the Arctic…
And as you can see there is a clear sense of urgency in our discussions of the Arctic because while great changes are underway we are industrializing all of the Arctic in a haphazard fashion without regard to the precautionary rule and the law of unintended consequences.
Rapid changes are currently underway in the cryospheric (water in its frozen state on land and sea), terrestrial, oceanic and atmospheric systems of the Arctic and many of these changes are currently outpacing climate model predictions. Arctic sea ice is declining in all regions and in all months, with the smallest trends in winter and the largest at the end of the melt season in September. Since about 2002, the satellite data record has indicated that the downward trends in summer ice cover have accelerated, with the implication that a seasonally ice-free Arctic ocean may be realised sooner than projected by our most advanced climate models. Meanwhile, local communities have been noticing profound changes in the Arctic sea ice environment for several decades. During the same period, the Greenland ice sheet has shown enhanced surface melting and increased discharge rates from its outlet glaciers, impacting on global sea level rise. Almost all Arctic glaciers are currently losing mass and snow cover over Arctic land areas is declining. Permafrost is warming and its southern limits are thawing. Temperature rises in the Arctic are twice as large as those for the planet as a whole. Model projected Arctic amplification has recently emerged in autumn as the Arctic Ocean is covered by larger expanses of open water at the end of the summer melt season, which absorb more solar radiation than an ice covered ocean, with the potential to impact further on land surface temperatures. An ice-free “blue” Arctic Ocean will lead to profound changes in the marine ecosystem, the culture and livelihood of indigenous Peoples, and economic activities in general.
The rapid rate of climatic change in the Arctic, coupled with the potential increased transmission of invasive species, greater industrialisation and rapid social change, makes understanding and conserving Arctic biodiversity an ever greater challenge. This is especially important in recognition of the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity’s target to reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity. The maintenance of healthy Arctic ecosystems is a global imperative as the Arctic plays a critical role in the Earth’s physical, chemical and biological balance, providing ecosystem services that are vital to human well-being.
Circumpolar indigenous Peoples live under the flags of many countries but share, with northern communities, many similarities in aspects of land use, culture, subsistence, environment, educational needs, language, social and resource development pressures, and traditional knowledge. In our discussions we shared our unique cultural perspectives and described the challenges we face, and addressed the ways we adapt to these changes. We also acknowledge that there are gaps in our knowledge base and response systems that can benefit from the expertise and collaborations with experts in many fields from all over world. It is a fact that our communities are experiencing dramatic changes to our environment due to climate change and that the repercussions of those changes fuel already existing problems. Yet it is not only people living in the Arctic that will be impacted by the profound changes but all of us living on this planet earth.
Because changes in the Arctic environment are at the “head” of the feedback loops permeating our global ecosystems and although we recognize this fact through science – we understand very little of what that implies still. Melting ice in the Arctic will have implications for the rest of the world in terms of its impact on global sea level, atmospheric and oceanic circulation. We believe that by sharing our experiences and knowledge of the Arctic, where climate change is far more advanced than in other regions, we can play a vital role in better preparing the world for the changes afoot and what is to come as a harbinger of harsh reality.
All our actions formulated to address Arctic issues must begin from an understanding that Peoples of the Arctic have self-governing institutions at various levels of development. Indigenous Peoples and their institutions have immense creativity and seek to advance the self- determination, prosperity and aspirations of their communities and their regions. The challenges of maintaining and enhancing the prosperity and cultural well-being of the people of the Arctic are often complicated by drivers of change which have non-Arctic origins. In addition, scientific, developmental and conservation efforts are often driven by interests outside the Arctic. Arctic governments and Arctic residents welcome the growing global interest in this important region. Efforts to advance Arctic knowledge through scientific, traditional and local means will be critically important to formulating responses to major challenges such as climate change and variability. As work advances on all fronts, it will be important to acknowledge the people of the Arctic and their institutions as actors with valid interests and not simply treat the Arctic as a project area to be researched.
In relation to work on physical earth systems, several reports have been written in the last five to ten years regarding gaps in knowledge and observations of the Arctic’s ice, ocean and atmospheric systems. These include key observational gaps, gaps in infrastructure and gaps in data sharing (see for example the Sustained Arctic Observing Network (SAON), International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP), and Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) reports). Our efforts here should not repeat those exercises, but rather should focus on action. That said, we acknowledge that this analysis of gaps will need to be updated over time, as some of these gaps will be filled, and new knowledge, including local and indigenous knowledge, may help us to identify new gaps.
Basic Science challenges remain and our knowledge gaps are quite extreme to be able to be bridged in the space off time the Arctic Development takes place. And yet we must regulate our race for knowledge to coincide with the race for hydrocarbons.
The Environmental Parliament Science teams are tasked to promote work on science aspects such as those listed below in order to achieve the possibility for regional predictions and interactions recognizing that whatever happens in the Arctic it happens everywhere else sooner rather than later.
The following -10- TEN scientific challenges need be overcome before we launch into adverse effects development.
1) The Arctic Ocean remains poorly understood both in it’s present and future state, including the influence of ocean circulation, inflow of Atlantic and Pacific waters into the Arctic, ocean bathymetry, ocean salinity and effects of ocean acidification;
2) Atmospheric circulation requires further attention, especially as it affects the ice sheet;
3) Processes contributing to ice formation, calving, Berg formation, ice melting, ice thickness, and snow depth remain very poorly known;
4) The role of permafrost and frozen ground in the carbon cycle remains unclear;
5) Many feedbacks remain poorly understood, i.e. methane released from thawing permafrost, cloud-radiation interactions, cloud-atmospheric aerosol interactions, and black carbon on albedo;
6) Inconsistencies remain in modelling results and temperature data sets;
7) Determination is needed of ice sheet and glacier mass balance and their contribution to sea level change;
8) There is a need to improve prediction ability because present day global climate models are limited in their capacity to provide reliable projections of climate change in the Arctic.
9) Observation networks for the Arctic are still quite limited, with only a few long-term stations, making it difficult to distinguish with confidence between the signals of natural variability and long-term climate change.
10) The relationship between the Arctic’s function as the global thermostat and the cooling effect that the albedo has on the earth’s surface by reflecting solar radiation back away from the ocean has not been yet measured properly nor it is fully understood.
Here bellow are the eight -8- important points of our concerns about the species loss, despeciation of the Arctic, and general loss of biodiversity. In terms of our understanding and protection of the Arctic’s biodiversity, numerous gaps remain in knowledge and action:
1) The critical role that Arctic ecosystems play in the Earth’s physical, chemical and biological balance, providing ecosystem services that are vital to human well-being, are only somewhat understood by the public and policy-makers.
2) Arctic states and Greenland also need to more proactively address and influence processes occurring outside of the Arctic which are negatively impacting Arctic biodiversity.
3) The Arctic’s size and complexity represents a significant challenge towards detecting and attributing important biodiversity trends, thereby demanding a coordinated, integrated, multi-disciplinary and ecosystem-based approach, yet established research and monitoring programmes remain largely uncoordinated and limited in coverage, lacking the ability to effectively monitor, understand and report on biodiversity trends at the circumpolar scale.
4) Arctic residents are often forgotten or excluded from full and effective participation when discussing biodiversity despite their integral role in these ecosystems and the importance of Arctic biodiversity in supporting not only ecosystem services, but also cultural and spiritual values.
5) While efforts have been made to include local and indigenous Peoples and communities in monitoring and understanding change in the Arctic, more work is needed and successful projects need to be built upon.
6) More timely and accessible information is needed to generate effective strategies for mitigating and adapting to changes in the Arctic – a process that ultimately depends on rigorous, integrated, and efficient research and monitoring programmes that have the power to detect change within a ‘management’ time frame.
7) Existing information, be it historical accounts, indigenous/traditional knowledge or long-term scientific datasets, is of high potential value in determining past trends and identifying potential drivers of trends. Yet, this information is often forgotten or not easily accessed.
8) Much of the information generated in the Arctic is fragmentary, disconnected across disciplines, and does not reach the public or policy makers or is not delivered in a proactive or appropriate format that facilitates communication and understanding.
There are also twelve -12- very important omissions in our knowledge of the socio-cultural systems of the North, and the ways that these will be impacted by the rapid changes currently occurring.
1) Gaps exist on connections and cross-disciplinary between the sciences. Integration across disciplines is needed to help further our understanding of global change impacts, and to create solutions.
2) Gaps in knowledge exist regarding non-Arctic drivers of Arctic change
3) Communication of research results between the physical sciences and the social
sciences on the impacts of climate change has been slow.
4) Much research on the impacts of climate change is conducted on a large scale
whereas human activity is highly localised, and impacts and responses will be conditioned by the local context. More needs to be done to reconcile the research on impacts of change with the need to understand and predict local consequences and adaptation.
5) Gaps in knowledge exist in how indigenous and Arctic communities can deal with climate change on their own terms.
6) Knowledge gaps exist in the flexibility of subsistence living approaches. Much research has been done on the problems that subsistence living will face due to climate change, but gaps exist in how those problems could be overcome by the people themselves.
7) Arctic community characteristics need further study. Community structures matter with respect to climate challenges (according to some research, diverse communities are more able to adapt than more homogenous communities).
8) Indigenous and Arctic communities need to be provided with a better predictive understanding of global and local climate, social, biological and economic trends. This includes building upon current pan-Arctic efforts to develop analytical frameworks and appropriate indicators useful for Arctic communities. Indicators should assist with the long-term monitoring of human development in the Arctic.
9) There is insufficient integration and dissemination of the knowledge generated by research and conferences on issues such as arctic tourism and arctic energy systems.
10) Considerable gaps exist between knowledge on Arctic change and actual action. There is a vast amount of knowledge on change and global change impacts, whereas action is lacking. Also, there has been little analysis of activities that have been successful, be they adaptation or mitigation.
11) There are gaps in dialogue and communication, both between the sciences, and between science and arctic residents and other stakeholders. There are crucial gaps in the dialogue necessary to move from science to action. There is as yet little understanding of the extent to which Arctic communities and indigenous peoples influence decisions on science funding in the Arctic.
12) Effective and legitimate policies need to take account of the interests, values and knowledge of the people directly affected by them. Often, although not invariably, the people most directly affected are local communities at relevant geographical scales. Yet there are major gaps in institutional design and policy processes. Local communities are sometimes not consulted at all; when they are, their contribution may be neglected. Furthermore, opportunities to be heard through non-institutional processes such as political mobilisation may be restricted. As a result, policies are commonly adopted that may be unacceptable to local communities or, because local knowledge is neglected, do not work.
These are the Major Arctic Challenges and we must face up to them before we allow for extreme exploitation of the natural resources of thee Arctic and further damage the fragile ecosystem… because we simply do not know what massively damaging forces we are unleashing — to our common peril.
After all the Arctic — although very well demarcated between nations contiguous and far — still represents the vital Global Commons, because of it’s supreme role as the global thermostat. And that places us in the unique and unenviable position to have to fight for the Commons on behalf of all the citizens of this Earth.
So here are some of our recommendations as we go forward in the spirit of cooperation and sustainability for sustainable economic development, exploration, and natural resources management of this fragile ecosystem:
1) The renewal, conservation, and development of traditional forms of activities that will help to create employment and social and economic well-being of the indigenous Peoples of the North should be promoted as a counterbalance to the corroding influence that oil and gas exploration and development jobs have in an endless cycle of boom and bust for the local communities. In addition to “buying the vote” of the people and thus allowing dirty fuel practices and Laisez Faire polluting behaviours to go unchecked and unreported. Therefore all forms of local economics should be integrated into development plans in wide consultation with indigenous people and all development plans must contain remediation, spill response, disaster management and environmental impacts of all these eventualities. The responses and the means to respond and mitigate catastrophes should be in place as basic infrastructure before we are going to be allowing any type of resource extraction development.
2) A review should be made of policy options related to protection of the non-market subsistence sector in connection with the emergence of the mixed and industrial economy in the North and the potential polluters and the large oil companies must prepare and pay for the safety and response and monitoring of their activities infrastructure throughout the areas of their reach for oil and gas.
3) The sustainable use of renewable resources, including for commercial purposes, should be recognised, supported and promoted throughout the circumpolar Arctic not in words but in serious deed and action. The oil and gas mining industry, and the transport oil and gas companies must be allowed to police themselves but a higher authority ought to be established like the US Coast Guard cooperating with the Canadian one, to do double duty on checking pollution and resource extraction impacts throughout the Arctic. Our belief in the industry is strong yet our principle is “TRUST BUT VERIFY”
4) Sustainable use of renewable resources and sustaining ecosystems should be promoted in regards to exploration, development of oil and gas, mineral resources and shipping, through the application of the most stringent environmental standards, which should exceed today’s standards, and through land-use planning that includes development thresholds to ensure that cumulative impacts of those kinds of development are limited.
5) International investment, including from states outside the Arctic, should be mobilised to ensure safe, secure and reliable marine transportation in the Arctic. And the shipping industry similarly must create the infrastructure, pay the costs of passage and fund and manage the insurance liability, their Northwest passage creates as they traverse this fragile ecosystem. Again the US and Canadian Coast Guard must be tasked to manage the shipping flows and the collection of passage duties for paying for the infrastructure necessary to be in place before we have any spectacular failures and disasters – that are inevitable long term.
6) National governments and corporations should take into account ecosystem services values during development planning, including spatial integrative planning and recognition of NO-GO zones, as well as plans to protect this fragile Global Commons. Remediation for the carbon soot from shipping and from the emissions generated from the oil and gas shipped from the Arctic have to be established as a form of Arctic Carbon Tax in order to pay for the services needed to support the sustainable development of the Arctic.
7) Governments should be called on to establish new legislation, where needed, to ensure that industry operating in the Arctic supports and participates in integrated safety research, standard approaches to sustainable development, and monitoring, following set standards.
8) Assessments should be produced of the impacts of different-scales of resource and industrial development in the North. This should include alternate governance models to address resource conflicts related to the increased role and presence of heavy handed and very wealthy “used to get their way” multinational corporations in the North doing as they please…
9) It should be ensured that indigenous Peoples and Arctic communities are fully involved in decisions concerning development, are fully and effectively consulted, and have free prior and informed consent.
10) Best practices should be investigated and disseminated in the management of industrial development. Many councils controlled by indigenous Peoples, in various areas need to be enacted democratically in order to ensure that local communities benefit as much as possible from the positive aspects of industrial development.
11) National governments and corporations should be stimulated to compensate any net negative impacts caused to indigenous Peoples and Arctic communities by industrial development and climate change, through affirmative plans, education and support programmes.
12) Lastly we aim to establish the Standards of Sustainable Development in the Arctic through co-operation and Involvement of all the stakeholders and to that end we invite all local governments and councils on a dialogue along the corporate and national actors in this race to develop without polluting and harming the Global Commons the Arctic represents.
We must absolutely have Arctic certification mechanisms for the seamen and the sea Captains who are operating in the Arctic, because at present no such special certifications exist. We must also have special training for all sea men and industrial workers going to work in the Arctic conditions and in this fragile ecosystem. These have to happen prior to any development in the Arctic. Similarly we must have a manual of operations and procedures for spill response and remediation that has to be common knowledge to all hands on deck. This educational process has to be test orientated so only those able to pass the knowledge with confidence can handle the oil rigs and the ships working there. And the Arctic sustainable Development Standards have to include the provision for as many response vessels and mopping up of the oil operation ships available locally as oil rigs are working in thee vicinity. One to one is hardly an ideal match but a good start none the less.
The EP – ARCTIC SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS have to be vetted by all the local communities and adapted to their own ecosystems before any exploration for oil and gas or industrial resource development can occur in their proximate geographical areas.
The EP – ARCTIC SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS are the only means we have to protect the GLOBAL COMMONS OF THE ARCTIC and that is the reason why we all convened here.
Thank You for your continued support, for your attention to the Arctic and for your human participation.
Dr Rudy Wallace
Chief Arctic Science Co-ordinator
Penelope Justine Mc kallan
We released this White Arctic Sustainable Development Policy today at the ARCTIC SUMMIT in OSLO Norway and hope tha thtey key shareholders andd stakeholders of the Arctic regions will adopt these articles of reaality and science.
Because resources are just one of the legs of the stool that the Atctic represents since it’s beginning of industrial development during the seal oil boom and the Whaling oil fever and all other ever evolving industries that first opened up the Arctic alomost two centuuries ago…
There is already oil and gas extracted from the Arctic and fueling your automobile or your electricity…
Arctic is not a pristine virgin territory some idealists represent it to be….
Far from it with two centuries of oil related industrial development already and with cruise ships now crossing through… Remember the seal oil and the whale oil industries, and now the Fossil fuel oil and related hydrocarbons…
Well it’s still clean and beautiful and extreme and brutal, but now a viirgin by a long shot.
On the other hand…
It’s not a Bangok hooker either…
But the Arctic is something, somewhere in between.
Something in between the 5 million matives and the 500,000 indigenous Inuit peoples, and the tourists and industry that are already there — and all manners of development already present in the deep Arctic.
And we just need to recognize this reality because we must make an effort to make this haphazard Arctic economic and industrrial development – sustainable….