Saturday, October 16, 2021

White House steps up work on what to do about melting Arctic

The Biden administration is ramping up its work to figure out what to do about the Arctic warming three times faster than the rest of the world.

The White House said on Friday it was reactivating the Arctic Executive Steering Committee, which coordinates domestic regulations and works with other Arctic countries. It is also adding six new members to the US Arctic Research Commission, including two indigenous Alaskans.

The Steering Committee had been moribund for the past four years, not meeting at a higher level, with David Balton appointed to direct it. “It will go on and do more in the Arctic,” he said.

The revised committee will seek to find out “what needs to be done to better address the changes in the Arctic,” Balton said.

University of Colorado scientist Twyla Moon, who is not associated with the committee or the commission, praised the developments. She said that since the Arctic is changing so rapidly, “serious issues such as national security, the stability of buildings and roads, the availability of food, and much more must be considered and acted upon immediately.” “America can’t afford to sit back.” on arctic issues. “

Balton said in an interview that the Arctic is “opening up in many ways. Much of it is bad news.”

“But there has also been an increase in tourism and an increase in shipping, potentially leading to other industries in the Arctic that need regulation,” he said. “And right now the nations and peoples of the Arctic are scrambling to keep up with this change.”

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New efforts emphasize working with indigenous peoples.

“Achieving these goals is really important, so it has to be done in partnership with the people who live in the area,” said committee deputy director Rachel Allouk Daniel, a climate policy analyst and Yupik, who grew up in Tuntulick, Alaska. – Grown.

Balton said superpower tensions in the region are likely to increase as it becomes more ice-free in parts of the year, allowing not only more shipping but the temptation to go after resources such as oil.

Balton said people living in the lower 48 states should still care about what happens in the polar region.

“The Arctic is a kind of bellwether for what happens to the entire planet. The fate of places like Miami is closely tied to the fate of the Greenland ice sheet,” said Balton. “If you’re in Topeka, Kansas Live, or if you live in California, if you live in Nigeria, your life is going to be affected. … the Arctic matters on all sorts of levels.”

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