Arctic Update Header
June 28, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House will consider the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. The House may also hold a contempt vote. The Senate is expected to consider an omnibus package regarding several expiring provisions-surface transportation programs, student loan interest rates, and the National Flood Insurance Program.


Preserving Strategic Partnerships & Preparing for Transnational Threats, June 25-28, 2012. United States European Command and United States Africa Command hosts a science and technology conference. A session on the Arctic is scheduled to begin at 8am on Thursday. The schedule is available here


Law of the Sea Convention: Perspectives from Business & Industry, June 28, 2012. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold another hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention, this hearing to focus on the impacts on business and industry.  Witnesses including President of the US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue, President of the American Petroleum Institute Jack Gerard, President of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons, and Chairman of Verizon Communications Lowell McAdam.



Half of Inhaled Soot Particles from Diesel Exhaust, Fires Gets Stuck in the Lungs. The exhaust from diesel-fueled vehicles, wood fires and coal-driven power stations contains small particles of soot that flow out into the atmosphere. The soot is a scourge for the climate but also for human health. Now for the first time, researchers have studied in detail how diesel soot gets stuck in the lungs. The results show that more than half of all inhaled soot particles remain in the body. Science Daily 


GANWRreenpeace: The High Arctic should be protected from companies and governments desperate to exploit it. Greenpeace maintains that what happens in the Arctic affects us all. Besides acting as a planetary air-conditioner, the region is a bellwether for the health of our climate and the global ecosystem. As the ice melts and is replaced by large patches of dark, open water, even more of the sun's heat is absorbed and the melting increases. The frozen North is stuck in a vicious circle, with scientists talking about the sea ice entering a "death spiral." The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. Ice is disappearing at unprecedented levels and with it the habitat of species like the polar bear, while the way of life of the four million people who live above the Arctic Circle is changing forever. MarineLink 


Oil Drilling in AlaskaRussia Not Planning to Raise Oil, Gas Taxes for Several Years- Deputy PM. Russia does not support the raising of taxes in the oil and natural gas industry for the next 5 to 6 years, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Thursday. Speaking to reporters, he said if an opportunity for lowering taxes arises "the government would do everything possible to stimulate economic activity". Russia is facing a slowly declining output of oil, its main source of foreign income, as companies are reluctant to invest in largely untapped fields in the Arctic and in Eastern Siberia. Fox Business 


Northern Premiers Want Increased Infrastructure. The high cost of basics such as food, energy and housing is a major issue across Canada's North and the three Arctic territories can't address it themselves, say the three northern premiers. "When we looked at ways to reduce the cost of living, it all boiled down to infrastructure," said Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod, whose government spends $170 million a year on subsidies to make northern life more affordable. "We're looking at working with the government of Canada to invest." 


Deep Drilling Reveals Evidence of Extreme Warming Periods in Arctic's Past. Imagine a much, much warmer climate enveloping Alaska and the Arctic. Sea levels have risen, and sea ice hardly exists. Greenland's ice cap has vanished. The Bering Strait flows strong and deep, sluicing warm Pacific water into the polar ocean all year long. Forests of spruce and possibly pine grow close to the shores of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Tundra has all but disappeared. A rise in annual temperatures regularly bathes frigid Barrow with warmth comparable to that now found south of the Brooks Range, and chilly Kotzebue gets soothed and pampered with a soft regime that feels somewhat like Fairbanks and the Tanana Valley of today. Alaska Dispatch


Arctic MapSwedish Foreign Minister Discusses the Arctic's Future. Analysis: Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt delivered a lecture to over 300 people at Carleton University in May entitled "Arctic Challenges and the Future Perspectives of Arctic Co-operation." Bildt remarked, "[Sweden] may not have the direct exposure to the Northern Seas as other Arctic nations. Our territory does not extend as far North as that of Canada, and our Arctic population is clearly dwarfed by that of Russia. But the Arctic still matters a great deal to us." The fact that Sweden does not have an Arctic coastline means that it is excluded from the informal Arctic-5 group, which includes Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the U.S. Norway enjoys sovereignty over all of the Scandinavian peninsula's northern coastline. The Sami people have, for centuries, inhabited Finnmark, the northeastern-most county of Norway, which lies directly north of Sweden on the Barents Sea. Alaska Dispatch


arctic shippingIs US Finally Developing a Grand Strategy for Its Arctic Frontier? The United States is set to unveil a five-year scheme for offshore oil and gas leases that it says will open more of the Arctic Ocean to exploration while protecting the environment and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. The US is planning the move as Royal Dutch Shell prepares to sink two exploration wells in US Arctic Ocean waters - one in the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Siberia and north of the Bering Strait, the other in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. "We are currently in the final stages of a rigorous review of Shell's proposal to drill exploratory wells ... this summer," said David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, adding that he anticipated Shell would be granted permission to proceed. Alaska Dispatch



Northern Leaders Want More Say in Arctic Council. As Canada prepares to chair the international Arctic Council in 2013, leaders in the North say they want their voices heard. The chair of the eight-country council rotates every two years, and it's Canada's turn next year. Premiers from the three northern territories said they want to participate in the Council more directly. CBC News 


Many of Canada's Bird Populations in Deep Decline, report says. Barn swallows and chimney swifts that swoop through Canada's skies devouring insects are in serious trouble, with populations down more than 75 per cent since 1970. Shorebirds are also disappearing - their numbers are down by almost half, according to the first comprehensive report on the health of Canada's birds, to be released Wednesday. The news is not all bad. Eagles and other raptors have made dramatic recoveries thanks to bans on pesticides such as DDT. And duck and geese populations are booming, says the report on the billions of birds that spend at least part of the year in Canada. Nanaimo Daily News 


Number of Geese in Arctic Rises: Increase comes as other Arctic bird populations decrease. The number of geese in the Arctic is on the rise, according to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, but the birds are taking a toll on the land. At the same time, typical Arctic shorebird populations are experiencing a steep decline. The North American Bird Conservation Initiative in Canada is made up of federal, provincial and territorial governments as well as conservation groups. CBC News  


AK Native family drawingEnsuring Equity for the Indigenous Within Their Nation-States for the Benefit of All. Of all sectors of society that have historically been marginalized or effectively excluded from development planning and policymaking, indigenous peoples represent the group that poses the most complex challenges. According to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, there are 370 million indigenous people in the world who, to varying degrees, "have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live." However, maintaining these attributes has been very difficult because many nations continue to enforce assimilation policies, principally in the name of development - for the benefit of all. While assimilation of native populations may be a well-intentioned objective of the countries that have engulfed these groups, it is debatable whether indigenous peoples desire the type of social inclusion that development in its varied forms can create. Development is a mixed blessing. Nevertheless, reality dictates that development is inevitable, and that resistance to it would likely bring about consequences far more adverse than those brought forth by acquiescence. The Arctic Institute






Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events               



healthmeetinglogo15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This event is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and behavioral health.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 9-10, 2012. Fairbanks, AK. For more information, go to   


Week of the Arctic, August 13-18, 2012. The Arctic is front and center in peoples' minds-increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development have brought about more reasons to understand and work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off Alaska's coast. To help Alaskans understand these critical challenges and issues at stake in the Arctic, the Institute convened the first Week of the Arctic last year, drawing over 550 participants to five events in four days. The 2012 Week of the Arctic will take place August 13-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. Week of the Arctic events will include:

The Week of the Arctic's signature event is the annual Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner on Friday, August 17th. This year we'll be recognizing Red Dog Mine for their sustainable development in the North.


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-27, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World; October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature.  

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