By Tom Fries Arctic News 16 June – 22 June, 2012
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READS OF THE WEEK
If you’ve only got a few minutes this week, spend your time on these particularly useful, informative, creative or well-written pieces.
This will offer you no new insight into today’s Arctic geopolitics, but it’s great nevertheless to learn about the adventures of Willem Barentsz, the Dutch explorer for whom the Barents Sea is named. Enjoy this article from Barents Observer.
Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute have been dragged in to the complex lawsuit over the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in a very dangerous way. I went to some lengths to put the content of their “Statement on the Need to Protect the Scientific Deliberative Process” into one or two sentences, but it is too important to suffer such abridgement. Please take a few minutes to read it.
An in-depth article from Japan’s Asahi Shinbun on Japanese interest and involvement in the development of projects in Russia’s Far East is a great read, and offers information that doesn’t crop up in the press that often.
In a fantastic opinion piece, Craig Medred in Alaska Dispatch highlights the fiction that the oil economy is not already an essential support for communities in the far North – aboriginal and otherwise – pervading most aspects of daily life.
At Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, local communities are attempting to persuade BP to sell propane locally, as it could reduce the community’s dependence on enormously expensive fuel oil. They haven’t had much luck so far (fascinating article from EOTA).
BLOOD & TREASURE
The Russian military’s drills provided fodder for much of this week’s military news. The air force tested fighters, bombers, radar aircraft and tankers in long-range missions over the Arctic (VOR), and the development of new ammo to “plug a hole” in the air force’s capabilities is planned. At sea, the PASSEX drills, held jointly by France and Russia, took place this week, featuring both the French warship De Grasse and the Russian landing ship Alexander Otrakovsky. Primary tasks appear to have been defense-, rescue- and communications-focused (VOR). Video is available as well (RIAN). To strengthen the Northern Fleet’s search-&-rescue capabilities, the new rescue vessel Igor Belousov is under construction at Admiralty Shipyards in St Petersburg. It’s the first such ship built in Russia in more than 30 years, and is planned for testing starting October 2012 (marinelink.com, BO). Meanwhile the submarine Yekaterinburg, victim of an earlier fire, is slated to be repaired at the Svezdochka shipyard near Arkhangelsk (BO), and a new “stealth frigate” built in Russia, the INS Teg, has been delivered to the Indian navy (RIAN).
Despite all this nearby military activity, tiny Iceland was honored as the world’s most peaceful nation by this year’s Global Peace Index (IceNews).
Across the ocean in Canada, Senator Colin Kenny scolded the Harper government in the National Post for failing to make the investments in surveillance technology that are necessary to protect Canada’s marine borders, Arctic and otherwise, while an opinion piece from J L Granatstein in the Ottawa Citizen suggests, perhaps rightly, that the Canadian military has a great chance right now to choose its future direction, but is instead drifting rudderless. A third opinion piece in the Hill Times (registration required) highlighted the disparity between the proportion of accidents that take place in Canada’s Arctic and the proportion of search-and-rescue air equipment formally housed there (0%). Indeed, planned purchases of further search-and-rescue aircraft in Canada are a subject of debate as Boeing competes with Canadian companies like Bombardier and Viking Air (CBC). The Canadian coast guard is meanwhile seeking restitution for its expenses on a rescue mission for the MV Clipper Adventurer, a cruise ship that ran aground off of Nunavut in 2010 (CBC).
The possible purchase of American-made Northrop Grumman Polar Hawk drones to survey Canada’s Arctic reaches has been cause for much back-and-forth sniping about the wisdom of sharing or outsourcing such technology. The debate is nicely covered by Mia Bennett in Eye on the Arctic. On the US side of the border, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp announced this week that the Polar Sea, one of America’s few icebreakers, had gained a reprieve from the scrap heap (Juneau Empire).
THE POLITICAL SCENE
In an interesting turn of events connecting Russia’s Arctic to the wider world, the ship Alaed, which was carrying weapons from Russia to Syria, was turned back after the British company that insured it withdrew its policy (BO). In Murmansk it is likely to be re-flagged from Netherlands Antilles to Russia, making it a much more serious thing to stop its progress (Telegraph). Finnish President Niinistö meanwhile took the opportunity to meet President Putin near St Petersburg to discuss economic matters, among others (YLE). Underlying the talks was clearly the possibility of Finnish accession to NATO, an idea about which Russia is less than thrilled (YLE). A Russian general’s negative comments about the possibility seem, according to one poll, to have marginally increased support for NATO accession within the Finnish population (YLE). On the other side of the coin will be the meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja this week (YLE). Meanwhile President Putin took pains to advocate for the repeal of the US’ 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which puts Russia in a less favored category than other US trading partners (RIAN). This is quite fascinating for those of you who are interested in the messy overlap between trade and diplomacy. At the local level in Murmansk, Barents Observer provided us a quick look at the new Murmansk regional government. Marina Kovtun, the region’s newish governor, signed an agreement with her colleague from Norway’s Finnmark region to add a further 100 million rubles to a large fund already devoted to building what is essentially a company town to deal with radioactive waste, stored at Andreyeva Bay (Bellona).
On the North American side of the Arctic, further commentary came from Brookings, where Senior Fellow Bruce Jones recorded a brief interview advocating the US’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The biggest news from Canada was the revocation of government-paid trips for foreign ambassadors to Canada’s Arctic, which feels significant if only for its symbolism (EOTA). Terry Audla, new president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, highlighted the similarity between his own views and those of Lloyd’s of London CEO Richard Ward regarding engagement of local communities in plans for northern development (Hill Times). Tension between Inuit communities and the federal government was highlighted by a tussle between the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and MPs from Canada’s northern reaches (NN), while the federal government’s interest in the lost 1845 John Franklin expedition might be explained by the possibility of declaring the site a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Such a declaration would add weight to Canadian arguments that Canada should have the prerogative to regulate traffic through the Northwest Passage (reviewcanada.ca).
There continues to be politicking in Canada around animal products as well, of course. The Fur Institute of Canada will be meeting in Iqaluit this week to discuss, in part, continued resistance to the EU’s ban on Canadian seal pelts (EOTA), and an engaging post from Anthony Speca via Northern Public Affairs discusses Canadian whaling in the possible future context of a coherent, unified International Whaling Commission.
What a week it’s been for Shtokman. At the start of the week, Gazprom fired the entire project staff (Bloomberg, BN), but a company spokesman and analyst both played down the news (Bloomberg). CEO Aleksei Zagorovsky remained in his position (upstreamonline.com). The next day, however, word came that the existing project company, based in Zug, Switzerland, would be winding down after expiration on 1 July. A new company will be set up that looks likely to incorporate Shell as a new project partner (Reuters). Shell’s possible addition leads to speculation as well that Total or Statoil might depart the project (BO). Background noise would seem to suggest that Statoil, more than Total, might be looking at other, better opportunities elsewhere (Fox), but RIA Novosti says that it is Statoil who proposed inviting Shell in the first place. One newsletter also reported that “sources” have said that Total is actually on the way out (Reuters). These and other decisions were discussed at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (naturalgaseurope.com), where Total CEO Christophe de Margerie expressed his wish that all differences be ironed out (Murmansk & Shtokman News, Reuters). The Forum played host to several high-level meetings between existing and prospective partners (BO), but as of this writing no firm resolutions had been made (Fox). For a concise overview of the whole developing situation, you’d do best to turn to Anna Kireeva of the Bellona Foundation.
Meanwhile, Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom’s deputy head, said that the company’s ongoing talks with its top European clients have been going according to plan (Reuters Africa). The EU itself may be moving closer to a common energy policy as well (EU).
Rosneft, which has recently looked as though it’s pursuing every available opportunity (Johnson’s Russia List) for partnership, dramatically expanded its international footprint by inking deals with both Statoil and Eni this week (VOR). The deal with Eni covers Russia’s Arctic shelf; that with Statoil covers the Norwegian shelf – thus sayeth Igor Sechin at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (ITAR-TASS). The deal with Statoil also gives Rosneft the prestigious position of being the first Russian major active on the Norwegian shelf. (Side note: Reuters reported last week that China’s CNPC is also looking at ways to stake a claim on the Norwegian shelf.) Best details (locations, stakes, cost-sharing, history) on the Statoil agreement were published by Barents Nova, Eurasia Review and Barents Observer. Be forewarned: as always, one has to dig through thick layers of content-free boilerplate from executives before getting to the interesting details. Details on the Eni-Rosneft agreement come from Eurasia Review. Rosneft might also consider taking advantage of the sale of support ships from drilling/exploration company Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka to expand its capacity in the Murmansk region (BO, BN).
In a wonderful quote, Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, quoted the potential total cost of operations on Russia’s Arctic shelf as $400bn, “comparable to the cost of space exploration” (RT). Meanwhile Russian Minister for Regional Development Viktor Basargin said that federal and regional budgets are expected to contribute $44bn to investment in Arctic projects by 2020 (RIAN). An in-depth article from Japan’s Asahi Shinbun on Japanese interest and involvement in the development of projects in Russia’s Far East is a great read, and offers information that one just doesn’t see elsewhere.
The fun Statoil is having with its Russian partners is equaled only by its optimism regarding its North American projects, where it expects to triple oil output from 150,000bpd today up to 500,000 by 2020 (Reuters). At home, things are less sunny: the internet activists’ platform avaaz.org has taken it upon itself to fight Statoil’s involvement in Canada’s tar sands (AB), a shortage of housing in Stavanger may mean that oil & gas majors must look elsewhere in Norway to expand (AB), and staff on the Norwegian Continental Shelf may be getting ready to strike (AB). Such strikes seem to be happening a lot in Norway recently; is this common? Despite such hurdles, drilling company Transocean is making predictions that the pace of well-drilling in the Barents overall will rise from six in 2011 to 38 by 2017 (upstreamonline.com). Elsewhere, the Guardian published a quick snack covering some of the hesitation among investors to support or insure Arctic projects. I will say it again: no values-based argument is going to put the brakes on Arctic drilling so long as these projects are easy(-ish) to finance and insure.
In North American oil and gas, Shell continues to face pushback on its plans for the Arctic this summer, but is doing whatever it can to make the road smoother (from Richard Harris at NPR). The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement meanwhile completed a portion – not all – of the inspections required for Shell’s drilling equipment that will be used up North (Maritime Executive). At Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, local communities are attempting to persuade BP to sell propane locally, as it could reduce the community’s dependence on enormously expensive fuel oil. They haven’t had much luck so far (fascinating article from EOTA).
In a fantastic opinion piece, Craig Medred in Alaska Dispatch points out the fiction that the oil economy is not already an essential support for communities in the far North, aboriginal or otherwise, while Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell comes down quite clearly on one side of the oil-vs-environment debate in an op-ed in Politico.
Two small bits of news were all that I came across from Canada’s energy sector this week. We heard that the powers and responsibilities of the Mackenzie Valley Petroleum Planning Office (née Pipeline Office) have been substantially expanded (Gov’t of the NWT) and that a pilot-project 2000-era windmill snapped into bits in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut (CBC).
Rare earth metals, China and Greenland were most of the chatter in mining this week. Forbes published a nice piece on the possibility of a future glut of rare earths, in contrast to the present tight markets, while China – famed as the world’s top producer of the elements – announced that its own reserves are actually running dangerously low (BBC). An interesting article from EurActiv – to which I am referring belatedly – gives a nice overview of Greenland’s surprising new stardom on the international stage, while Arctic Portal offers a good debrief of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Copenhagen, and what was – or might have been – discussed. CNBC also syndicated a Reuters piece that highlighted other substantial deals with Danish brewer Carlsberg and shipping firm Maersk.
Greenland is not the only country enjoying China’s tender attentions; Russian aluminum producer RusAl signed a $850mn deal with the Export-Import Bank of China to set up a new production facility in Eastern Siberia (MT, steelguru.com). Diamond producer Alrosa is meanwhile looking at privatization of 14% of its shares later this year (RIAN), and Norilsk Nickel announced improvements in its shipping times that are saving it money (steelguru.com).
On the Canadian side of things, Nunavummiut organization Makita is putting in heroic, blindness-inducing work to translate the socioeconomic section of AREVA’s proposal for its Kiggavik uranium mine first into layman’s English and then into Inuktitut. Friends, I salute you. That is no easy task. Meanwhile, BHP Billiton Canada is looking for a way to exit its interest in the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, but De Beers is apparently uninterested in the stake (Reuters). Apparently Canadian diamonds are becoming a non-core business for more than one international mining conglomerate. In Nunavut, Shear Diamonds’ Jericho mine is producing better than anticipated (NN).
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
In general business news, Russia is already ranked poorly in the World Bank’s Doing Business Indicators, and of the 30 Russian cities recently ranked by the Bank, Moscow came in last (MT). Murmansk also did poorly, adding insult to the injury of the city’s 1.3% decline in industrial production in 2011 (BO). The Barents Monitoring Report pulled out a couple of interesting economic details for Murmansk, highlighted by Barents Observer: mining was a bright spot because of price increases for iron ore and apatite; a decline in wild fisheries was partially counteracted by growth in farmed fish; the largest part of Murmansk’s raw materials are shipped to the Netherlands; and average monthly salaries in the region grew by 11%. Iceland’s economy is meanwhile being pitched as a good-news story, as it’s growing at its fastest pace since the crash (IceNews). The economy in Norway is apparently friendlier than in the US at the moment; advice from Estelle Petersen via Aftenbladet on interviewing for jobs in Norway includes – among several good suggestions – the hysterical admonition to “make the effort to shower and look presentable on the day of the interview.” Ow - my sides ache from laughter.
On the North American side of things, an article from Nunatsiaq News will give you – towards the end – some good insight into the nature of the conglomerates that we know as native corporations. The CBC also offered some interesting data points about aboriginal businesses in Canada in general.
WCEL provided a worthwhile read on the back-and-forth between the federal and provincial levels of the Canadian government over who will ultimately determine fisheries regulations. Meanwhile the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Kenai River king salmon season early because of low numbers (AD). Side note: king salmon get as large as 60 pounds? That is like a Labrador retriever. Also in Alaska, American Seafoods has been fined $700,000 by the EPA for violations of its regulations regarding ozone-depleting refrigerants (KUCB).
China is sending the Xue Long through the Northern Sea Route this year, or at least is planning to do so. If all goes according to plan, says Liu Cigui of the State Oceanic Administration, it will be the first time a Chinese icebreaker has reached the Barents Sea (RIAN). Here, unrelatedly, is a geeky interview with Katherine Palmer of Lloyd’s Register that will give you some good insight into what transport companies have to think about for their ships (gcaptain.com). And from Stratfor (email required to get the article as a sample), an article on China’s Arctic interests pointing out that insurance premiums and draft restrictions on large cargo ships will eat up the distance advantage of Arctic Ocean routes for Chinese shippers.
Protests against exorbitant food prices in Nunavut again took place this week, this time in the context of National Aboriginal Day. Protests were planned for Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Igloolik, Coral Harbour, Pond Inlet and Taloyoak on Thursday, as well as elsewhere in Canada (CBC, NN). The EVP for North West Co (the owner of many grocery stores in affected communities) Michael McMullen tried to stay ahead of the curve by offering “practical advice based on success we’ve had just this year in lowering the cost of healthy food and increasing the consumption of dairy, protein and fresh produce in Nunavut” (NN). A blog post from Jean Crowder, an MP, suggests that Mr McMullen’s successes, admirable though they may be, still leave gaping holes in the fabric of Northern food security. Similarly, a letter from legislators from all of Canada’s Northern provinces to the federal government suggested that the Nutrition North Canada program has, if anything, made the issue worse (HuffPo). Wilf Wilcox, the chair of the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board, responded that this is a mistaken impression based on the fact that NNC selectively targets more nutritious foods for subsidies at the expense of less nutritious items (NN). A woman in Nevada responded to the challenge by starting an adopt-a-family group on Facebook, and it’s interesting to read a wise response from Aaju Peter in Iqaluit that charity, however useful in the short-term, is not a long-term solution to this problem (CBC). Festivities attached to National Aboriginal Day continued despite the protests (NN).
The aftermath of last week’s major flooding in Canada continued into the early days of this week, with one gentleman spotting a cabin adrift on its way down the Mackenzie River (CBC). The washout of the Nahanni Range Road is meanwhile keeping a number of tungsten miners out of work in northern Yukon – no boon for them and their families (CBC). A report was also released this week cataloging the damage from fires in Nunavut in 2011, which comes in at $35mn (NN).
On the health side, the failure of a TB vaccine supply for children in Nunavut is bad news for the territory’s constant struggle with the illness. After last week’s recall by sole Canadian maker Sanofi Pasteur, Health Canada announced early on that there was no expected date for new supply (CBC). According to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the government is looking for ways to expedite the approval process for new batches (APTN), but Sanofi Pasteur announced late in the week that it would be making no more until 2013 (CBC).
In general, the health and well-being of Nunavummiut falls short of what residents in the rest of Canada can expect. The Canadian Community Health Survey for 2011 was finally released this week, and it highlights a collection of chronic issues for the population, including obesity, poor nutrition, smoking and invasive cancers, among others (NN). Boredom itself seems to be at the root of some problems in isolated communities; in Labrador, gas-sniffing among young people is apparently becoming an issue (CBC), and a substantial (for the North) marijuana bust was made this past week in Pond Inlet, Nunavut (NN). To deal with these and other persistent health issues for aboriginal Canadians, the federal government will be investing $25mn in appropriate research over the next 10 years. This accompanies $5.3mn in grants from the Aboriginal Health Intervention Grants program (NN). To some extent, it may be robbing Peter to pay Paul – funding is being cut or redirected from some existing youth and health programs as well (CBC). Minister Aglukkaq also unveiled new, even-yet-still-larger anti-smoking warnings to cover more than half of Canadian cigarette packages (NN), and a Habitat for Humanity initiative to house three families got underway in Yukon (CBC).
In other uncategorized social news…
TAI’s own Alison Weisburger offered a stinging critique of the cultural clumsiness of the Economist’s recent article “One Man and His Dogs”.
There are concerns that foreign workers in Canada are being exploited (CBC), a claim that the Yukon government is investigating (CBC).
Metis in the North Slave region are fighting the NWT government for the right to a portion of this year’s caribou harvest, which follows a two-year ban (NNSO).
A new cost-sharing agreement with the Government of the Northwest Territories may rescue the Deh Cho Bridge project (journalofcommerce.com).
Also released this week was an extensive report on obstetrics in Canada, which you can check out here.
The city of Iqaluit is trying to deal with destructive off-roading (CBC).
Flights between the Kola peninsula and Moscow have been reinstated on a regular basis (BN).
It’s only an abstract, but it’s enough to give a taste of some interesting research into digital storytelling by Inuit on YouTube (ulaval.ca).
ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE and WILDLIFE
Worldwide, the best-covered environmental news this week was, of course, the Rio+20 conference. Canada’s efforts to smother a resolution calling for an end to government subsidies for oil companies drew the ire of some in Canada (Vancouver Sun), and the country was the subject of withering critiques from Greenpeace and others on a range of issues (CBC). Premier of Québec Jean Charest was tracked down by a teenager from Kangiqsualujjuaq (NN) who expressed to him her belief that Nunavimmiut neither know about the province’s Plan Nord for northern development nor support it (NN). Puma chairman Jochen Zeitz also put himself in a camp with several celebrities by dropping a great sound bite, saying that plans to exploit subsoil resources in the Arctic are “the Mount Everest of unsustainable development” (Guardian).
General sentiment seemed to be that the whole Rio+20 conference was an enormous waste of time and money for very little, if anything, by way of consensus, much less concrete plans and agreements. The US, Venezuela, Canada, Russia and Japan collaborated to veto plans for preliminary discussion of a UN treaty to protect international seas (New Scientist), while a paper in Science (abstract here) pointed up global abject failure to adhere to even the plans set forth in the conferences 10 and 20 years ago. Greenland’s Kuupik Kleist offered a lengthy piece on norden.org describing the fine balance that the Greenland government would try to strike during the conference, both caring for the environment and striving to increase living standards worldwide.
Greenpeace made a splash at the conference by launching a star-studded campaign to declare the Arctic a global sanctuary comparable with Antarctica, in which it seems all development would be banned. Most of the news seems to have been about the celebrities on board (Independent, EcoWatch) – showing a certain level of feral good sense on the part of Greenpeace in recruiting said celebrities. To see a little more about the organization’s plans to monitor Shell’s drilling in the Arctic, see their blog. The US-Russia joint announcement of their intentions to “work to protect the Arctic environment and develop potential oil and natural gas resources while keeping environmental concerns in mind” (UPI) does not seem to have convinced Greenpeace.
A new NASA photograph of the earth from the vantage of the North Pole (Smithsonian) was frequently tweeted this week, often accompanied by a depressing note that “this may be your last chance” to see it. Folks felt the annotation to be necessary as the result of headlines in which the precipitous drop in sea ice cover (Think Progress, NSIDC, NN), weird temperature deviations (EOTA) and unexpected decreases in carbon storage as a result of increased plant life in some Arctic biomes (Nature, Daily Mail) contribute to a negative picture of the Arctic’s future. New theories to explain fascinating data from a 2.8mn-year ice core taken from a lake in Siberia suggest that, in fact, the melting of the Western Antarctic ice sheet may in some way act as an accelerant for the melting of the Arctic ice cap (Scientific American, sciencedaily.com, nsf.gov). For some cool information on how and why ice sheets move, check out this great post from Scientific American. This amazing animated .gif from the US Navy also illustrates in an appreciable way the motion of Arctic ice.
The Interagency Arctic Research policy Committee recently released a five-year plan to guide federally-managed research in the Arctic. Reading a review by Carey Restino, it seems like the key bullet points are: greater integration with state-level and aboriginal knowledge bases; greater outreach; and a big question mark about funding (Arctic Sounder). The US also agreed with Russia and, potentially, Norway, to work to reduce impact on the Arctic from diesel emissions and other pollutants (UPI). Meanwhile scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute released a strongly-worded statement about some rough handling they’ve received from the lawyers for BP in the Deepwater Horizon litigation. Readers: This is really important. Give it a read. A group of 44 has meanwhile left Bremerhaven aboard the Polar Stern, a German research vessel, on their way to spend a month studying the Fram Strait and its role in exchange between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans (marinelink.com). The Bering Sea will meanwhile play host to non-human researchers in the form of research buoys to collect a steady stream of data on ocean acidity, among other things. State funding pays for the research (ADN, AD).
In wildlife news, I was tickled to see that US Representative Dave Weldon announced – certainly intending it as hyperbole? – to all the world his belief that there is no actual wildlife in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (politifact.com). Bless his heart for letting that be caught on tape. Meanwhile, all were pleased to read that levels of PCBs found in polar bears on Svalbard seem, at long last, to be reliably in decline (BO). Musk oxen however are making an odd move south – one was spotted this week in northern Alberta (EOTA). In marine mammals, the Center for Biological Diversity is suing the National Marine Fisheries Service to force a decision on the listing of ringed and bearded seals as threatened (Juneau Empire). Meanwhile the sex organs of narwhals and beluga whales are the subject of a gripping study out of the University of Winnipeg; turns out we have very, very little idea of how they make baby belugas (NN). Moving out of mammalia, some really interesting research and modeling suggests that fish populations are likely to move in response to changes in pockets of saline and fresh water in the Arctic (sciencenordic.com).
Finally, nobody seems to have been hurt – or even to have noticed very much – when a 6.0 earthquake hit about 75 miles off of the USGS’s Attu Station in Alaska on Tuesday (USGS). Some resourceful reporter from the AP made an actual story out of it. Simultaneously, Mount Cleveland, one of Alaska’s most active volcanos, decided to make its presence felt with an eruption that shot ash 35,000 feet in the air (AD).
THE SPORTING LIFE
I had no idea that dog-pulled bicycles (bikejors?) exist, but apparently the Dog-Powered Sports Association of the Yukon has actual events for this, including one that took place last week. Also there is the “canicross,” which looks like it involves humans running while being pulled by dogs. Please go and look at this. You will not believe it (Whitehorse Star).
The relationship between Russia and Finland also took a step towards the positive and the light-hearted with a scrimmage involving both Finnish president Niinistö and President Putin who, according to this article in RIA Novosti, is “learning to skate in an attempt to prompt more Russians to take up sport and prove it's never too late.”
THE GRAB BAG
Now, all the things that don’t fit tidily somewhere else.
This is only imaginatively connected to the Arctic, but I feel like it’s pertinent, and it is definitely awesome. A company in Ireland is going back to the future by developing massive cargo ships that rely largely on wind power (gizmag.com).
Mary Simon offered the graduation speech at the University of Alberta – the debrief of her speech is worth a read.
Sweden, in what is perhaps too great a step towards true egalitarianism, offers one citizen each week the chance to run the @Sweden Twitter account. A certain Ms Abrahamsson chose to use her time to offer up some incredibly tasteless comments about Jews and gays. Umbrage has been taken (IceNews).
Wondering what to do with that frozen caribou haunch in your garage freezer? Watchers of the North has the solution.
The Pechenga monastery, still under construction on the Kola Peninsula, will be consecrated by Patriarch Kirill this fall (BO).
A massive crane toppled over into Pangnirtung Harbor in Nunavut; this may delay the construction of a small-craft harbor in the town (CBC).
There is no end to what Americans will do or watch, apparently. A new reality TV show will follow five men on a Seadoo-only trip across the Bering Strait (CBS13, Sacramento). In a similar adventure sponsored by Shell, a Yukon teen will be making the effort to drive all the way across Canada on five tanks of gas (CBC). What happens if she runs out?
Sturgeon require warmer water than can be found in the Arctic, so some clever Russians have started up a sturgeon farm in waters warmed by the exhaust water from the Kola nuclear power plant. They produce delicious caviar that glows faintly in the dark (not really) (BN).
Bears are a growing problem in Whitehorse (CBC), but an influx of Alaskan dogs for a dog show is a delight (Whitehorse Star).
Tromsø played host to troupes of dancing people in celebration of the city’s International Week (BO). The city is also the home of the Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden, profiled this week in the Wall Street Journal.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
Here’s a selection of great photos of…
…Deadhorse, Alaska (a must-see slide show) – via Kadir van Lohuizen
…residents of the Komi Republic ceremonially washing icons – via RIA Novosti
…Sweden’s Arctic forest – via BBC
…north Norway – via Instagram user yask76
…a clearly awesome dog, Skunk – via Nunatsiaq News
…solstice sunset in Iceland – via Instagram user officialstation
…a Yellowknife summer sunset – via flickr user Kevin Klingbeil
…Kugluktuk, Nunavut – via flickr user DnV Photo
…fishing on Watson Lake – via flickr user Bruce McKay
…a Whitehorse evening – via flickr user kdee64
And, if you like your information via video…
…Helge Lund makes a fairly official statement to the UN Foundation about the future of energy demand and supply
…a fun video on Arctic botany from Cruise North Expeditions
…a quick video from YLE on Finland’s midsummer celebrations
Alaska Dispatch (AD)
Anchorage Daily News (ADN)
Barents Nova (BN)
Barents Observer (BO)
Eye on the Arctic (EOTA)
Fairbanks News Miner (FNM)
Globe and Mail (G&M)
Moscow Times (MT)
Natural Gas Europe (NGE)
New York Times (NYT)
Northern News Service Online (NNSO)
Northern Public Affairs (NPA)
Nunatsiaq News (NN)
Ottawa Citizen (OC)
RIA Novosti (RIAN)
Russia Today (RT)
Voice of Russia (VOR)
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
Washington Post (WP)