As more and more people understand what’s at stake, they become a part of the solution, and share both in the challenges and opportunities presented by the climate crises”. Al Gore
The signs and the effects of climate change are more and more palpable every day. Last year, Typhoon Bopha battered the southern Philippines, killing over 1,000 people. We also witnessed the power of Hurricane Sandy that kills over 100 people and caused an estimated $80 billion in damage. The UN Environment Programme´s Year Book 2013 shows that the reduction in Artic summer ice cover has become more intense in recent years. In 2012, it reached a record low of 3.4 million square kilometers (18 per cent below the previous recorded minimum in 2007 and 50 percent below the average in 1980s and 1990s) and it observes that permafrost is also melting. Recent projections predict ice-free summers for the 2030s.
The last Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Doha bore little fruit. Although a number of developed and developing countries agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (lasting from 2013-2020), the majority of those countries have a widely diverging opinions in terms of vision and responsibilities. While climate change is an international security challenge; in recent years, has become a window of opportunity for some countries. As said by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of United Nations Environment Program, what we are living is that the melt of the ice is causing a new wave to look for the fossil fuels that prompted the melting in the first place. According to the U.S. Geological Survey about 30 per cent of the world´s undiscovered natural gas and 15% of the oil are in the Artic. Many companies, including the Russian Rosneft, the Norwegian Satatoil and the American Exxon Mobil, are getting ready to drill in zones where there is melt of the sea ice. Some other countries have also estimated that the Northern Sea Route will become the new maritime highway with 40 times more navigation by 2020. There also will be an expansion in fishing industry. It is estimated that catching fish at high latitudes could rise between 30 and 70 percent by 2050. The rush to these vast untapped reserves has consequences that must be carefully thought, giving the global impacts and issues at stake. The combination of rapid environmental transformation and the rush for resources can interrupt hydrology, affect the traditional lifestyle of indigenous people, prevent the passage of migrating species, endanger ecosystems and escalate important geopolitical issues that are likely to have ramifications far beyond the Artic.
Few weeks ago, in Oscar´s ceremony, we could see the nomination for best original song (Before my time) from the documentary “Chasing Ice”. This documentary shows us the effects of the climate change in the Artic. The images are overwhelming; both good and bad way. The beauty of the landscape is hardly comparable and hardly findable in other part of the planet. However, it also displays how fast the landscape is changing. We cannot cease in our efforts to maintain this wonder for the next generations. It is our duty to push our governments and remind them that climate change is an important public concern. They have to represent this view in global meetings, invest in new technologies and built alliances in order to achieve better and deeper results. If we want to preserve the fauna and the beauty of the Artic, we cannot stand still watching our opportunity melt away. Even if we are too selfish to not look it as a close problem, we have to recall that climate change will become a serious threat to security in every corner of the planet. It will diminish the availability of critical resource such as water, food and energy and as a result of the scarcity, we will face an increase in migration (especially in Asia and Africa), the escalation of regional hostilities.
*Logan Sandoval holds a degree and master´s degree in International Relations. He works in the Human Rights National Commission (Mexico).