Arctic attention must shift from profit to conservation based efforts

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Jessica Doojphibulpol/Staff

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The Arctic is suffering from major impacts caused by climate change, and much more intensely than anywhere else on the earth. Studies have shown that the higher altitudes are experiencing increases in temperatures two times higher than those of the rest of the planet. Ice caps are melting at an increasingly rapid rate, igniting the race to the Arctic’s resources. Parents, environmentalists, scientists and others concerned about the fate of our planet worry as the melting ice exposes rich resources of the Arctic while others rev their engines, ready to jump at the future profits buried in the Arctic.

The Arctic contains reserves of oil, gas and minerals that the world’s superpowers are waiting to pounce on. Since 1979, the north pole ice cap has decreased by about 40 percent, opening up two new shipping routes that great economic potential. Exposure of more shipping routes is highly anticipated by competitors. Climate change’s impact on the Arctic is the “go” signal for those who plan to exploit the Arctic for purposes of greed and power. We must resist these capitalist superpowers in order to save our earth. By seeing the impacts on the Arctic as a way to maximize profits, there will be a drastic shift away from the environmental improvements and changes that have recently been implemented and back toward extraction of resources that will lead to more environmental degradation and harm. For example, the Arctic Council, which was first established to monitor animal populations and environmental changes, has now been directed to focus on future port fees and establishing contracts for future oil spill remediation.

Eight countries already have legal territorial claims in the Arctic: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and the United States. China is trying to get in on the shares of the Arctic, and because President Trump considers China a greater threat than Russia, it will likely lead to more conflict. Just last year, major Russian gas companies were granted rights to develop hydrocarbon deposits that were recently discovered. Another consequence of this race will be increased conflict among nations and potential war impacts, environmentally costly actions. Countries such as Canada, Russia, and the United States have already been found exercising their military and expanding their operations in the Arctic.

We must intensify efforts to protect the region and stop exacerbating climate change and its effects instead of hurrying to exploit the Arctic’s resources. By focusing on the extraction of oil, gas, minerals and decline of ice as means to increasing shipping, tourism and military interests, such industrialization will further increase environmental degradation. Many politicians and superpower companies have masked their intentions by claiming these developments will better the people living in the Arctic and the world’s economy, but they maximize profits for a few individuals. The United States should lead a movement to protect the Arctic and push for rigorous standards to be established for shipping routes and other potential industrialization. The United States should also work to protect national monuments and national parks. Another way we can intervene to help protect the Arctic from attack by other countries is by committing to a significant decrease in carbon emissions to help slow down the impacts of climate change. Given all the scientific data that has already been produced regarding climate change and its impacts, we have an obligation to fight for the protection of our earth.

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