Icebreaker
(Photo credit: NOAA Climate Program Office, NABOS 2006 Expedition / Flickr)

As the climate warms, countries are eyeing new economic opportunities in the Arctic.

“This whole region, which previously had been locked in ice for much of the year, is now increasingly navigable by surface ships of a variety of types,” says Sherri Goodman of the Wilson Center and the Center for Climate and Security.

She says that’s creating concerns about how shipping, fishing, and drilling for fossil fuels could harm the region.

“Some of the greatest sources of fossil fuels and minerals are in the Arctic, and although they are hard to reach, there could come a time when there’ll be a rush to extract and exploit these resources in the region,” Goodman says.

She says nations must work together to regulate pollution from these industries, prevent oil spills, and protect fish and other wildlife. She says there’s no time to waste.

“We can’t lose sight of how rapidly conditions are changing – potentially more rapidly than our ability to negotiate international governance systems will keep up,” Goodman says. “So that’s what in part what keeps me up at night about the Arctic.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.