Future of the Arctic

Can the region's resources be safely tapped?


Global interest in the Arctic is rising as climate change causes Arctic sea ice to melt at record rates. The receding ice offers access to the region's abundant oil, gas and mineral deposits and could provide shorter shipping routes between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Many nations also want to fish the region's increasingly ice-free waters. However, many observers say uncontrolled Arctic development could damage fragile ecosystems and communities already under serious pressure. Others say the United States is not paying enough attention to the Arctic and has not set detailed priorities for the region. The Obama administration supports energy production in Arctic Alaska, including offshore oil and gas drilling, but Shell Oil suffered widely publicized setbacks last year with its operations in Alaskan waters. ...

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