The Biden administration is stepping up work to figure out what to do about the thaw in the Arctic, which is warming three times faster than the rest of the world.
The White House announced on Friday that it was reactivating the Arctic Executive Steering Committee, which coordinates national regulations and works with other Arctic countries. He also adds six new members to the US Arctic Research Commission, including two natives of Alaska.
The steering committee had been moribund for four years, not meeting at a high level, said David Balton, appointed to lead it. He said “it’s going to step up and do more in the Arctic”.
The revamped committee will attempt to determine what “needs to be done to better manage changes in the Arctic,” Balton said.
University of Colorado scientist Twila Moon, who is not involved with the committee or commission, welcomed the developments. She said that because 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 addressed and dealt with quickly”, Moon said. “The United States cannot afford to sit idly by on Arctic issues. “
Balton, in an interview, said that the Arctic “is opening up in a number of ways. Most of this information is bad news.
“But there is also an increase in tourism and shipping, potentially other industries entering 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. “
The new efforts focus on working with indigenous peoples.
“It is really important to achieve these goals, so it has to be done in partnership with the people who live in the area,” said committee deputy director Raychelle Alauq Daniel, climate policy analyst and Yup’ik who grew up in Tuntuliak, Alaska.
Superpower tensions are likely to increase in the region as it becomes more ice-free during parts of the year, not only allowing for more navigation, but also the temptation to grapple with resources such as oil. , said Balton.
People who live in the lower 48 states should always be concerned about what’s going on in the polar region, Balton said.
“The Arctic is sort of an indicator of what is happening to the planet as a whole. The fate of places like Miami is very closely tied to the fate of the Greenland ice cap, ”Balton said. “If you live in Topeka, Kansas, or if you live in California, if you live in Nigeria, your life is going to be affected. … The Arctic matters at all levels.