Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | March 5, 2013

Arctic Development

Climate change is not only melting the Arctic sea ice…

It is not just displacing the internet savvy and infinitely cute polar bears.

Climate Change is also melting our hearts because it poses a grave risk to the global habitat for human life and for all other species. Climate Change impacts could very well be our cemetery moment same as the asteroid impact was for the dinosaurs 120 million years ago.

And nowhere is this more evident than in the Arctic, where the rapidly melting glacier has allowed for the first time in history, more than half of the sea-ice to disappear, and thus reveal the riches beneath the sea floor and open up the Northwest passage for shipping, mining, oil drilling and all manners of resource extraction economic activity to be heaped upon the silent North, along with it’s attendant toxic wastes and wanton destruction. Still the Arctic’s meltwater is like the tears of our planet, silently falling into the sea and reminding us of where our excesses could lead to…

Here in the Arctic the temperatures have risen far beyond the highest marked increases of temperature rise recorded anywhere. And as this is caused by global warming and the production of CO2 elsewhere on earth is increasing due to economic development activity based on our Carbon based economies, we are feeding the beast continuously diminishing the Arctic sea ice. This anomaly, along with the chaotic Arctic storms are themselves vastly accelerating the break-up and the melting of the sea ice and the eventual transformation of the Arctic environment in a vicious circle mechanism. This in turn poses some unique and grave challenges for the global climate and for your own nation, city, town and family, as well. There is some kind of irony or primitive justice in this game, because as we challenge the survival of all the species of life in our blatant abuse of the environment – it is the melting Arctic sea ice that challenges us in return…

The sad thing for all of us who have spent plenty of time in the Arctic is that all this has taken place in plain sight and in front of our own eyes already without us being able to do anything. A lot of devastation has already occurred because of our unfettered economic and industrial activity in burning-up fossil fuels to power-up our lives. We can’t continue, because this burning-up of things causes toxic greenhouse gases to be emitted in the atmosphere, that in turn warm up the planet and cause the Arctic ice melt. And now we are seeking to extract more fossil fuels from bellow the Arctic sea bed and burn them up and continue on the merry go round of mining oil, burning it up, warming the planet and causing further ice loss — ad infinitum. Of course we can’t allow this to happen indefinitely and thus we can’t let industrial economic activity go unchecked until we heat up the planet to levels only seen in Venus…

Still being in the Arctic you can see that devastation, well before the economic activity with it’s related byproducts arrives in earnest to affect the Arctic ecosystem. Already, things are bleak. If you have had the courage to have flown for hours on end, over the Tar Sands oil developments in Alberta Canada – you would have witnessed the death of nature right then and there. And you could easily have imagined, what would happen here in the Arctic too. Still by looking at Tar Sands oil development fields from above, or in a postcard from hell, photo – you can easily imagine what the Arctic would look like if the rapacious oil and gas extractive industries are given free hand and unfettered access to rape and pillage the Arctic north. They would probably do the same as they have done too the Athabaskan lands of Canada where they are producing the most polluting fuel on earth. For all these reasons, all earth scientists, climate change specialists, and complex events emergence scientists, who have looked at the Arctic development problem concur, that unfettered industrial access portends a dismal future for this eerily silent last wilderness waiting up North. Waiting to be a witness and willing participant in sustainable economic growth by humans or simply a dirty oily black sea full of dead fish like the Gulf of Mexico came to be after BP was done with it.

Yet we are here. And we are vigilant guardians, standing courageous, and willing to believe that through proper action, we still may be able to protect life, prevent destruction, and conserve the Arctic sea ice and it’s species. And the reason we stand steadfast, here in the frozen North, is because we are tasked to protect the Arctic ecosystem as the global Commons. We are here standing tall in order to protect and serve, in addition to helping the special, social, and cultural fabric of the Arctic, before it is dramatically and violently altered through the accelerated mining development and deep sea oil drilling. Because these economic activities, are very polluting and along with the rapidly increasing need for oil transports from the oil fields and the regular shipping, the commerce, the cruising, and all coming attractions — spell the damning Arctic alterations. And we are at a loss to model the extent and impact of these activities if we cannot regulate and map them out, in order to understand and measure their total effects locally, their global impacts, and the feedback loops, that need to be modeled, simulated, comprehensively evaluated, fully understood, and continuously monitored. Still we are working on it.

While the world’s oilers and dirty energy industrial machines are revving up their engines and are rushing Pell Mell, by pushing ahead blindly, to drill for oil and develop the mining industry of the Arctic and Greenland as if the vast fortunes, so far hidden by sea ice are suddenly revealed as easy pickings – they forget the externalities we incur each and every time we rush to develop without consideration for the consequences.

Because as this new era of a “Gold Rush” has dawned upon the Arctic, the governments responsible for the chunks of it demarcated within their territories are fast asleep. The regional national governments appear weak, even though they are all global powerhouses, and are behaving like silent witnesses – if not willing participants – to the eminent plunder, rape and pillage of the Arctic. And maybe that is their [not so subtle] diplomatic plan, in order to allow for this unfettered access by their energy industry and thus also succeed in blocking the rival claimants such as China and all others who have no real border to the Arctic and yet are just as thirsty for the seemingly easy to get at oil, gas and mineral wealth, lying dormant beneath the earth’s crust under the Arctic seabed.

A terrible foreign policy decision that represents by all and especially by the United States…
That policy is a deadly mistake…
Still, I believe that WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT…

And for those of us who have been here steadfast guardians for a dozen years or more, and accepting the responsibility of protecting the Arctic for humanity, there is another better policy.

An Arctic development policy that represents an easy answer: We must protect the Arctic for own selfish interests. We must protect the Arctic for the simple purpose of protecting the Earth’s thermostat and climate regulator. You see the Arctic is all that.

We must protect the Arctic for preservation and conservation purposes because we know the Arctic bleeds.

We must protect the Arctic because we know it is suffering vast damages and diminishing daily.

We must protect the Arctic because we know it is now just the remaining shadow of it’s former glorious self.

We must protect the Arctic because we know the native species are disappearing same as the native Peoples.

And lastly, we must protect the Arctic because we know there are great challenges ahead.

There are great challenges ahead we must face up to together as well. Together with the Arctic we must face all challenges to our benevolent leadership. Challenges coming from all fronts and in all forms of dirty energy economic development. Challenges to our wish for sustainable growth and human values. Challenges to our integral model of development. Challenges to our model of sustainable development. There are multitudes of challenges. And we are ready to respond to each and every one of them. Yet the challenges are great, our enemies a multitude, and we are few. We know that. Further we know that some of those challenges are insurmountable because all the issues and challenges up here, get bigger and are magnified by nature’s ways, more than any other place on Earth. But that goes for our opponents too…

Yet still we are here. Certain of victory. Because we believe and have strong faith that the Arctic will be preserved in the end. And ultimately, that is why we are waging the good fight.

Nowhere else have so few fought for so many…

Yet we persist.

Because some of us are fated to guard the THERMOPYLAE of today with our lives.

We know this is a bitch of a challenge, and yet we believe that we can address it. As a matter of fact, we know that this challenge can be met, through common sense, global consent and rules for the Arctic’s sustainable development. Because the stakes are huge and in order to address this challenge, a coordinated effort is required. An effort that brings together all nations, and all the world’s bodies with stakeholders, their relevant natural and social science expertise, legal and regulatory frameworks, scientific and business perspectives, as well as appropriate ethical and moral frameworks to effect this imminent development in a sustainable fashion.

To this end, the Environmental Parliament has partnered with the Economist by participating in the international experts meeting on the Arctic Development called ARCTIC SUMMIT taking place in OSLO, Norway’s capital next week. We partnered and participate because we are keen on addressing climate change and sustainable development in the Arctic through proactive measures and business friendly means in order to steer this Gold Rush to a positive future…

Further we do this because it seems to me that the Economist Arctic Summit, has a twofold objective: First, to provide a broad overview of changes due to global warming that are anticipated across the circumpolar North and to investigate ways that they be monitored. Second, to assess the scientific, legal, social, regulatory, cultural and special challenges that must be met in order to ensure the region’s sustainable development within a globally beneficial context. Thirdly to discuss the limits to growth and development in the Arctic that we should not surpass – lest we cause irreparable harm to ourselves and nature at large. Fourth reason why we are gathering to discuss the Arctic at the Economist’s Arctic Summit is to establish the context that industry and business themselves have to address, infrastructure to be created, and rules to self police in order to be allowed to develop the Arctic.
Fifth and last, we are gathering in Oslo next Tuesday, in order to talk to industry and businesses and suggest for them to aim in being good citizens of this earth and find ways to pay their “rent” for being here on the Arctic and for living well off the fat of the land. And we suggest that they start doing this by self policing, protecting, conserving and developing the Arctic sustainably by choosing to be doing good for a change.

Doing Good and doing well in return should be their key motto. Doing rather well economically when one does good is something some of us live by, but industry hasn’t gotten there yet. Because enlightened industry and business leaders have yet to come to understand that it is possible and easily doable to protect this sweet earth, it’s people and all God’s creation without losing profit margins or devaluing their equity. They finally need to see that doing well by doing good is actually true.

And so it is with the polar North. The Arctic is the place where doing well by doing good has to be the installed default brain software and development paradigm for all business leaders involved in the magnificent economic endeavour called Arctic development. Whenever they think of Arctic development they should be mindful of that. And mindful of it, in large capital letters. SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT has to be writ large everywhere on all the Arctic projects, and “tattooed” on all developers, operators, and deck hands foreheads…

And sustainable economic development should not be written only in dubious PR pieces, flashy adverts, and colourful brochures produced by the specially set-up greenwashing PR campaigns of the industry. It should be written well above the advertising inventions of the likes of BP “beyond petroleum” and Exxon Mobil’s “reaching for the sun.” It should be thought ahead before disasters like Shell’s deep sea Arctic drilling team starting out for the Arctic without an environmental preparedness plan and no disaster or spill response of any kind in place. These are foolish actions and disasters in the making as was proven through the “grounding” of Shell’s oil platform and the Russian one — all “clear benefits” of a minor Arctic sea storm.

Seems to me that we need to remind the “tourists” that the Arctic is unusually strong, cold, and stormy. Stormy in more ways than we can describe, envision, or foretell. And thus we need to be prepared when we come up here for economic activity. Same as we must be prepared for eventualities when we manage the conduct of our regular business lives in less inclement climes. It is incumbent that when we come to the Arctic we must be able to live by this simple axiom: “FIRST DO NO HARM”
And also have the infrastructure in place to make those words a reality in the event of any eventuality. OK? Accidents happen. Oil Rigs spill oil. Disasters involving oil mining are a regular occurrence. Transport of oil from the North has always been treacherous. That is why they call the customarily taking place catastrophes and disasters – eventualities…

And we are here to observe, measure, support and assist all forms of sustainable economic development because we have been working on this for a rather long time, and we know how it’s done.

And by the way we are prepared to share with you the rules we have devised for this Arctic economic development in order to be truly sustainable through both industry actions and business deeds, and not in words alone.

Yours,
Dr Kroko

PS:

We aim to hold a Press Conference and release our White Paper for Sustainable Economic Development in the Arctic during the Economist Arctic Summit next Tuesday, March 12th 2013 in Oslo Norway.
We are doing this because we understand the Arctic will be developed and we need to signpost the way and prepare the rules of the road.
This much is clear and because of that we are not prepared to stand idle and watch it happen haphazardly, nor to let things go disastrously wrong.

Instead, we’ll stand firm. And you can do that too. So come stand with us…

We are prepared to go against the tide of the world during these difficult economic times and demand proper accountability, protections, infrastructure development, and disaster prevention and remediation measures paid by the industry and not the taxpayer or the global commons. We must avoid at all costs the model of development seen in other places of oil extraction like the Gulf of Mexico and the Niger delta or Ecuador’s and Amazon’s jungles.
We do this because it is primarily a moral issue. Because in business we must all behave ethically, engage in proper development, share the spoils globally, and not mess with our ecosystems. Equanimity ought to prevail in all of our dealings with Nature… and the precautionary rule must be observed at all times.

Some inevitably will ask:

Why do we do this?

We do this because the world’s people demand of us a safe future.

And that future can only be guaranteed and safe guarded through Sustainable Development alone.

That’s it. Nothing else. Simple. It is really that simple…

And we need our EP safe development rules for a sustainable Arctic, in order to enforce the sustainable economic development model until we can convene ourselves to a Common platform in order to manage to write the rules of the game jointly, and create the new Standards of Economic Development.

And to do this we need the lawgivers and the executives, of the Arctic contiguous nations, to act and maintain the environmental standards they have set up to protect all the other waterways and seas of their national grounds. And we ask for the steady support of sustainability through foresight at the international level. And thus we seek the government’s strong arm intervention to protect the Arctic until the Arctic standards for safe development come into existence.

Because as the lawgivers of yore said: “Salus populi suprema lex.”


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