The Arctic could soon be ice-free in the summer. Can geoengineering help?
This year scientists recorded the second lowest level of Arctic summer ice in forty years. The negative effects of shrinking sea ice on wildlife and Arctic peoples are worsening, but one organization is trying to engineer a solution. The Arctic Ice Project, founded by Leslie Field, is attempting to slow sea ice melt through geoengineering. “We’re not getting there in time to prevent an awful lot of climate devastation,” said Field. “The point of our work is to give the world time with less devastation, to get that important decarbonization work done.” The project, currently in the testing phase, focuses on increasing the reflectiveness of ice by spreading minute microspheres over ice. While cutting carbon emissions would likely have the greatest impact on slowing the melt of sea ice, endeavors like the Arctic Ice Project may give us some valuable time to do so (CBC).
USA Steps Up Diplomatic Efforts in the Arctic
US Coordinator, James DeHart, and his Arctic delegation have been visiting the Nordic countries since October 12. The aim of these meetings is to develop a new Arctic diplomatic plan while ensuring US relations with allies and common perspectives. At the moment, new Arctic strategies are being announced, such as Sweden`s which was recently launched (HNN). In the United States alone, James DeHart explained in an interview for High North News that the US Air Force and the US Navy are also developing their own Arctic strategies. However, it seems that the American Arctic coordinator wanted to remind us that Arctic issues are not only relevant to security. He recalled that the Arctic Council was still the main forum for cooperation in the region, and that the United States was very much involved in it. James Dehart also stressed the importance of environmental issues in the region, and even argued that the United States wanted to ensure that the actors in the Arctic respect environmental standards. He made particular reference to China, a way of showing that concerns about the country exist not only in terms of security. He also talked about economic development and the importance of supporting local communities. This gives us hope that the new American diplomatic strategy for the Arctic will take into account all the socio-economic and environmental aspects of the region (HNN).
U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a presidential permit granting approval to a $22-billion freight rail project connecting Alaska and Alberta.The permit includes permission to "construct, connect, operate, and maintain railway facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada." The project would mean a new, 2.570-kilometre rail line from Fort McMurray, Alta., through the Northwest Territories and Yukon to the Delta Junction in Alaska, where it would connect with existing rail and continue on to ports near Anchorage. The proposed rail line could move bulk cargo such as ore, potatoes, and oil, container goods, and even passengers. "This is a world-class infrastructure project that will generate thousands of jobs for American and Canadian workers, provide a new, more efficient route for trans-Pacific shipping and link Alaska to North American transportation networks," A2A founder Sean McCoshen stated in a press release. However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cautioned that the project must undergo a rigorous environmental assessment under Bill C-69, otherwise known as the “pipeline killer bill,” before it is executed (CBC; Western Standard).
Superfast Arctic undersea cable attracts Japan's Sojitz
Six Japanese companies will participate in a final feasibility study for the first undersea communications line connecting Japan and Europe through the Arctic Ocean, Nikkei Asia writes this week. The 10.600km link is expected to have a data rate of 66 terabytes per second or higher, making it one of the fastest in the world. The undersea cable, which is expected to cost upwards of $760 million, is slated to begin operations in 2023. The undersea line will have landing points in Japan, Norway, and Russia, while participants are planning to establish a new company in order to manage the construction and operation of the new line. Sojitz and other Japanese stakeholders have already planned to invest in this new company, envisaging 25 years of future investments. (Nikkei Asia).