According to an April 29 report published in the journal Nature, as more sea ice melts, more heat is released into the atmosphere, and climate warming is exacerbated. Alarmingly, arctic temperature increases in the last decade have been twice as high as the global average. The large amounts of thin ice covering the artic this year will likely melt quickly, leading to a large thaw. Additionally, a general trend of decreasing winter sea ice has been observed. This will dramatically impact arctic ecosystems, and threaten the lifestyles of those living in the region.
The fragility of the arctic ecosystem is underscored by oil extraction activity in the region. The recent explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico highlights the potentially doubly negative impact of arctic oil extraction. Not only are greenhouse gases emitted via the extraction and use of fossil fuels, but the technology used to extract these fuels may have catastrophic environmental impacts in the event of a malfunction. The National Energy Board is currently holding hearings on Beaufort Sea drilling. Despite being asked by oil companies to postpone these hearings, the long term result of the hearings may result in a policy that addresses the long-term safety and management of arctic drilling. Many environmental groups have argued that drilling in the arctic should not take place until sound policy regulating it has been implemented.
CIELAP has a strong interest in arctic environmental issues, and has partnered with the National Film Board to hold screenings of films related to arctic issues, among other topics. These films include Arctic Circle, This Land, The Great Adventure, Being Caribou, and Weather Report. The firms depict the unique vulnerability of the artic, and the environmental and social impacts of climate change in the region, and globally. They also present an imperative for policy that addresses the causes and impacts of arctic climate change.
Information about past and upcoming CIELAP events: http://cielap.org/events.php