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This week in the Arctic: Planning for development, welcoming back the sun

  • Author: Alaska News
  • Updated: August 29, 2016
  • Published January 29, 2016

Here are some of the stories from around the Arctic that we've been following this week:

Plotting a course for Arctic development

Arctic development took center stage at the 2016 Arctic Frontiers conference (titled "Industry and Environment"). Some attendees suggested there were upsides to falling oil prices, despite the importance of that industry to the region, notes the Arctic Journal, by pointing out that oil prices will eventually bounce back, and that the downturn gives Arctic nations a chance to diversify their economies. That diverse new growth should include indigenous groups as full partners, argued attendees representing those groups. "It is important for us to be visible," said said Aili Keskitalo, leader of a Norwegian Saami legislature, "but it is one thing to be seen; what we really want is for our concerns to be listened to, and that's not happening." One forum in which indigenous voices may find a hearing is the Arctic Economic Council. The group, launched in 2014 as part of Canada's tenure as chair of the Arctic Council, has won over some -- though not all -- critics, reports Eye on the Arctic, after fears it would be dominated by major corporations didn't come to pass.

The sun is coming back

Sunlight is returning to Arctic regions, and with it stories from media outlets to the south. NPR's Goats and Soda blog visited Ittoqqortoormiit, on Greenland's east coast, where one resident recalled being disoriented when the sun rose on Christmas Day during a visit to the farther-south Nuuk. Meanwhile, a Pacific Standard reporter from Whitehorse drove north to Inuvik -- only to be surprised to learn that, while the sun didn't rise, her expectation of total darkness wasn't quite right either. In both stories, the absence of light during the depths of Arctic winters led reporters to the persistent northern problem of food insecurity, whether it was the way hunting brought Greenlanders out onto the land during the winter dark (NPR) or way rural villages lag behind northern urban centers in the availability of fresh, healthy produce, especially at the time of year when it's most crucial to healthy living (Pacific Standard).

Further reading:

-- A year after it was formed, John Holdren and Mark Brzezinski, two of the Obama administration's top Arctic policy advisers, look back on their work on the Arctic Executive Steering Committee.

-- "Scott, imagine that you woke up tomorrow morning, and the headline on the newspapers was, 'The World Has Discovered a New Ocean.' " A $1 trillion ocean.

-- After post-election uncertainty, Iqaluit's deepwater port is back on track and could open by 2020.

-- What will the first new polar-class U.S. icebreaker in decades look like? High News North takes a closer look at the Coast Guard's initial requirements.

-- The 2016 Arctic Winter Games are set to be held in Nuuk in March, and most planning is on track, organizers tell CBC North: "The only thing that worries us is the lack of snow."

-- "An opera has become an important part of what has come to be known as nation-building," writes Copenhagen-based columnist Michael Keldren -- which is why he's arguing Greenland shouldn't build one, yet.

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