By Tom Fries The Arctic This Week – 21 July to 27 July 2012
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READS OF THE WEEK
If you’ve got limited time this week, spend it on the following six articles, which stand out both for style and content.
Anthony Speca’s writing this quarter for Northern Public Affairs has been an enormous pleasure to read, and a brief update to three of his recent pieces touches on some of the most interesting political and legal issues currently being served in the Arctic buffet: Canada’s seal hunt, whaling policy, and Greenpeace’s “Save the Arctic” campaign. Wry and eminently readable. Another fine writer, Damien Degeorges, provided thoughtful and complete answers to many different questions about Greenland’s political and economic future via an interview in EurActiv.
Though media coverage of Shell’s drilling plans is plentiful these days, much of it is fairly crude and not a little sensationalized. A nice article from Alex DeMarban in Alaska Dispatch is a notable exception that covers in a readable and comprehensive way the current state of the project. I also have to express admiration for the National Journal for collecting a great series of answers to the question: Is Arctic oil drilling ready for prime time? Enjoy.
Those of you moved by the natural sciences will enjoy an engrossing article from Nunatsiaq News on the life cycle of common Arctic mosquitoes, and how they may fare in a warmer climate. It is one more great article among many from this source. I also loved the virtual introduction to the city of Yakutsk provided this week in the Moscow Times.
BLOOD & TREASURE
A US F-16 on its way from Misawa Air Base in Japan to Alaska crashed in Russo-Japanese waters near the Kuril Islands this week. Its pilot was picked up by a Japanese boat, and the USCG was notified, and the base’s fleet of F-16s was grounded for inspections (Moscow News, RT). Russia announced that it would hold large-scale drills in the Barents in August (RIAN), while joint US-Russia drills focused on preparing for nuclear accidents are currently taking place in Russia’s Sayda Bay. The US National Nuclear Security Administration is the American party (GSN Magazine).
The US Coast Guard’s ongoing Arctic Shield exercise, which is working on “oil spill response training, delivery of supplies to remote villages and emergency preparedness,” drew the Sycamore from Cordova, Alaska this week (Cordova Times). Dodbuzz.com covered the Coast Guard’s efforts to establish a toehold in northern Alaska capably and dispassionately, while the Boston Globe took a more amusing tack; it highlighted the bubble-gum-and-duct-tape nature of the Coast Guard’s facilities up North and the exorbitant prices our poor military is being forced to pay for second-rate facilities. The Fairbanks News-Miner meanwhile wins points for opening its article on the Coast Guard’s new outpost with the following: “In a place where whale bones are scattered in front yards, pipelines run aboveground, and trash cans are spray-painted with positive messages like ‘kids are our future,’ the Coast Guard is something new.” Nice.
On the Canadian side of the border, a creepy story from the CBC regarding a winter drowning from days of yore highlights the insufficiency of the Canadian government’s search-and-rescue assets. A different aquatic death provided the necessary goad to get the Canadian Coast Guard to remove a sunken, unmarked and dangerous buoy off of Iqaluit (CBC). Meanwhile we are all looking forward to the video and so on that will come from Canada’s armed forces during their upcoming Operation Nanook, which begins on 1 August (forces.gc.ca).
THE POLITICAL SCENE
Anthony Speca’s writing this quarter for Northern Public Affairs has been an enormous pleasure to read, and a brief update to three of his recent pieces touches on some of the most interesting political and legal issues currently being served in the Arctic buffet: Canada’s seal hunt, whaling policy, and Greenpeace’s “Save the Arctic” campaign. Wry and eminently readable.
A well-done article from MarineLink covers the state-of-play of US Arctic interests after our wonderful Congress declined, yet again, to sign on to UNCLOS. While some of our Congresspersons were busy plugging their ears to the entreaties of the better angels of their natures, some Alaskans have been working on asserting their independence from oil companies via the revived, informal “Backbone” group intended to push back against corporate influence in Alaskan government (AD). Their motivation is perhaps understandable in light of an article in Alaska Dispatch covering Governor Sean Parnell’s efforts to raise (not very much) money for conservative candidates, who appear bothered at what they see as hyper-taxation of oil companies.
In Canada, recently reelected Assembly of First Nations chief Shawn Atleo took part in Canada’s premiers’ meeting, using that platform to push for cooperative development that benefits the aboriginal communities that he represents (G&M). Meanwhile Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern, a Twitter firebrand, announced that she would not be running for reelection (NN). Her list of suggestions for the next mayor provides a good overview of the specific challenges that the community faces. Coupled with her list of concerns for Iqaluit in the face of Baffinland’s Mary River project (NN), it’s clear that Mayor Redfern has a deep understanding of her city and its people.
The Government of Nunavut announced this week that it was considering changes to its contracting policy, which some feel has done an inadequate job of focusing on Inuit-owned businesses (CBC), while in northern Québec, Premier Jean Charest and the Cree Nation agreed on the formation of a new regional government to replace the James Bay municipality and give the Cree exclusive jurisdiction over several key components of infrastructure and industry (G&M).
Even – or especially – when it’s about business, news on China and the Arctic is always political. China’s national oil company CNOOC has made an offer to buy Calgary-based oil and gas company Nexen for $15.1bn, an eye-popping 60% premium over the company’s stock price (CBC). Because Nexen has assets in US waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the US could in theory block the purchase. Senator Charles Schumer sees this as an opportunity for the US to put some pressure on China on trade issues, but Forbes has a wonderful article which covers the situation and rolls its eyes dramatically at the idea. Meanwhile Huang Nubo, a wealthy investor from China, announced that his development of a Nordic holiday resort in Iceland is moving forward (IceNews).
In the European Arctic, talk of Greenland’s own political interests as distinct from those of Denmark grows day by day (enn.com). Damien Degeorges provided a thoughtful interview on the many different components of Greenland’s political and economic future in EurActiv. Finland is meanwhile ready to receive Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti after the latter’s visit to Russia (YLE), where Monti’s conversations with President Putin dealt largely with mutual energy interests (FT). Russia’s engagement with the larger NATO community is, however, in need of some work, at least as reviewed by Russia’s Valdai Club. The massive country’s engagement with its eastern neighbor Japan has also been occasionally tense as the dispute over the Kuril Islands simmers, but Japan appears to be willing to consider some sort of joint management/governance scheme for the first time (RIAN). This is a pretty big deal, and it will be one subject of discussion between Putin and Japanese foreign minister Koichiro Gemba in their talks over the weekend (RIAN).
The European Union’s communiqué on its future Arctic policy may have said exasperatingly little of interest, but a document on how its space assets will be used to support its role in the Arctic will probably be a fascinating read for 5 or 6 of you. For those interested in aboriginal issues in the Arctic, Heidi Bruce in the most recent issue of Fourth World Journal published a lengthy analysis of the impact of dramatic changes in climate and human activity on indigenous peoples.
The Washington Post covered Greenpeace’s identification of soft corals on the seabed in a portion of Shell’s Chukchi Sea lease area, part of the NGO’s concerted initiative to establish grounds on which to slow or stop the progress of drilling in the Arctic. Greenpeace’s Esperanza reached the ice edge in the Chukchi Sea on 26 July, and crew members shared some good photos. Though most of the online coverage of the Greenpeace initiative has been positive, a more cautious note was struck by Raz Godelnik, and an article on the conservative website Human Events focused primarily on what it sees as the dangers and hypocrisies of Greenpeace’s activities.
A small group of Alaskans congregated outside of the federal building in Anchorage, AK to ask the EPA not to waive air-quality requirements for Shell’s Noble Discoverer (HuffPo), while Senator Lisa Murkowski asked the federal government to consider extending the time window during which Shell will be allowed to drill (The Hill). Indeed, the time window for Shell’s activities is dwindling rapidly (Reuters), and the Coast Guard seems to be “suboptimally equipped” to deal with anything that might go wrong (BusinessWeek). The Sierra Club added its own voice to the mix, and CNN Money published a video illustrating the concerns of aboriginal communities near the drill site, while Alaska’s state-level readiness to respond to a spill is a matter of concern to some (EOTA). The Fairbanks News-Miner pointed to Shell’s recent equipment issues, covered in detail in previous weeks, as a sign that the company is just not ready to move ahead.
On 26 July, rumors began to surface that Shell was considering scaling back its plans for the season (BusinessWeek), and on 27 July the company made a formal announcement that it would now only attempt to drill two wells (NatGeo, chron.com). The company simultaneously met with administration officials (or didn’t – seems unconfirmed) to request an extension of deadline similar to what Senator Murkowski asked for (Fox). A really nice article from Alex DeMarban in Alaska Dispatch covered in a readable and comprehensive way the current state of the project.
On the good-news-for-Shell front, the Coast Guard approved the Arctic Challenger barge under less-stringent standards than originally planned (fuelfix.com, AD). The Coast Guard also planned a working test of its spill-cleanup equipment (AD). And Shell of course is not the only oil company in Alaska; ConocoPhillips announced profits for Q2 2012 of $551mn (EOTA), which fed into Alaska’s debate over whether taxes on oil companies should be lowered or not.
Next door in Canada, despite enthusiasm for gas from the Canol shale (Reuters) and other such prospects, TransCanada is considering converting one of its major pipelines to ship crude oil rather than gas (Platts). The NWT meanwhile is looking at building out a sustainable wood biomass industry (marketwatch.com), something in which it seems the territory would have a natural advantage.
Moving across the ocean to Russia, Gazprom announced the completion of a massive expansion at the Zapolyarnoye project in the Yamal-Nenets region (Penn Energy) while continuing to chat casually with Shell about that company’s interest in Shtokman (Bloomberg). The Russian giant also expressed its belief that shale gas in the US will not be the long-term economic bonanza that we’re all expecting (Platts), but other countries see the announcement as a PR ploy to discourage development of competing resources. Gazprom may be looking at future competition in the export market from compatriot Novatek (Bloomberg), which started work this week on the Sabetta port facility, an outlet for gas from the Yamal LNG project (BN, ship-technology.com, naturalgaseurope.com). The port will be one of the largest in Russia, requiring the construction of a 50km canal, with a total of $2.3bn allocated by both public and private entities between now and the expected opening date of 2018 (VOR).
Anglo-Russian joint venture TNK-BP’s activities were also the subject of much news this week. The company blamed its BP parent for delays in the West Siberian Rospan project (naturalgaseurope.com), and a regional court assessed BP a fine of $3.1bn to be paid to TNK-BP. This is apparently because BP, in attempting to link up with Rosneft on a separate project, breached TNK-BP’s shareholder agreement (Seattle Times). TNK-BP also undertook a series of “strategic partnership” agreements for refining with Sibur (Platts) and announced that it wishes to take part in the Nord Stream project (vestnikkavkaza.net). BP’s plan to sell its shares in the TNK-BP project are causing a flurry of speculation (corporateforeignpolicy.com), with Rosneft’s interest generating press in the New York Times and ITAR-TASS. The Financial Times seems convinced that BP shouldn’t sell out yet; whether the company will listen…who can say?
Rosneft’s Barents Sea partnership with Eni took a step forward in the form of an exploration loan facility agreement (Reuters) stipulating that Eni will fully finance the exploration costs as laid out in the licenses. Above that, costs are to be split according to the percentages staked in the project (MT). The agreement was signed as one of several issues covered in a meeting between Mario Monti and Dmitri Medvedev (Reuters). Also of interest was the announcement that oil production from the West Khosedayuskoye field in the Yamal-Nenets, a joint Russian-Vietnamese venture, was set to begin (MT), and that the two partners, Zarubezhneft and Petrovietnam, are considering a joint exploratory venture for the Barents (Reuters) as well.
Should you wish to get a broad assessment of hydrocarbon resources offshore in the Russian Arctic, take a look at this image from Ilqar Qurbanov on Twitter.
General overviews on Arctic energy for those of you who are new to Arctic issues are available from the Financial Post, fuelfix.com, valuewalk.com, the Star-Phoenix, the Guardian, Nation of Change and Greenpeace.
One chapter in the epic saga of Baffinland’s Mary River project is gradually drawing to a close as public hearings finish up. Some of the last hearings in Igloolik were less well-attended than might be expected (CBC). Things are going well for the Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut, which announced that it had achieved record production in Q2 2012 (CBC). The Meadowbank project hasn’t been all positive, however; RCMP representatives pointed out this week that the additional disposable income coming into the nearby Baker Lake community from the mine has led to a steep rise in crime, much of it alcohol related (NN).
In other Canadian mining news, Harry Winston may pick up Rio Tinto’s 60% share in the Diavik diamond mine (FT), a Yukon miner who thought it within his rights to essentially placer-mine away portions of public roads had his day in court and lost (WS), and fish are being tested near Yellowknife to see if they show evidence of contamination from the infamous Giant Mine (CBC). For a surprisingly thorough and clear catalogue of the current state of mining in Nunavut, enjoy a quick rundown from Peter Taptuna via the Institute of the North.
Next door in Alaska, negative news regarding the economic feasibility of the proposed Donlin Creek gold mine came from Barrick and NovaGold, the two Canadian owners (EOTA).
Across the ocean, the announcement that the Oleny Ruchey processing facility near Murmansk had opened was greeted with enthusiasm by the region’s acting governor Aleksey Tyukavin (BN), though the regional WWF has had nothing positive to say about a planned road to support the project. Severstal was doubtless pleased to get the contract to supply piping for Gazprom’s Yamal project in the years ahead (Bloomberg), but Alrosa is looking unhappily at a dramatic drop in demand for its diamonds in Europe (RT).
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
Disastrously low Chinook salmon runs in the Yukon prompted emergency meetings this week to discuss different possibilities for managing the problem (CBC), while Alaska Public Radio covered the controversy that went with last week’s handout in Bethel of nets that are permissible under the sudden new catch restrictions. From famine to feast: Chum salmon in the very same river are the source of surprisingly good business, re-branded and repackaged (AD, Arctic Sounder). I was surprised to learn that the two species swim on different sides of the Yukon, making them easy to separate out for catch purposes. Weird. In Bristol Bay, sockeye salmon are also coming in in great numbers (Arctic Sounder).
Moving out to ocean fishing, a praiseworthy article in Canada’s Globe & Mail covers the tension between conservation and exploitation of Arctic fisheries for the communities that could benefit in food and jobs. Ireland is attempting to work through the EU to take on Iceland over mackerel stocks (IceNews), while in the Barents Sea Norwegian police have fined a Murmansk-based Russian trawler $74,000 for illegally discharging fish over the side of their boat (RAPSI). Lastly, you may remember reading about a vessel in Unalaska that sprung an ammonia leak, forcing evacuations of various sorts. That’s been resolved now, though not without the leak of 20,500 pounds of the stuff. The boat, the Excellence, is headed back out to sea (Dutch Harbor Fisherman).
Ice in the Arctic, though thinner today than previously, is still no joke. Ice damage to the Zelada Desgagnés’s hull, acquired during the Iqaluit sealift in Frobisher Bay, is keeping the ship in Iqaluit until an ice-free opportunity to make its way back to Montréal for repair (nasty pictures from the CBC). The institution of an official Polar Code mandating particular safety precautions for all Arctic cruise ships seems like a good idea to me; potential details of such a code are covered in DC Bureau. In Murmansk, the storied shipyard (founded 1917) has been officially declared bankrupt (BN). Lastly, it seems the partial privatization of Russian shipping firm Sovcomflot will likely to be handled by JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs or Deutsche Bank (Bloomberg).
Big news late this week was that the supply ships that have been stuck in Frobisher Bay, the Anna Desgagnés and MV Qamutiq, finally made it to Iqaluit under escort from two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers (CBC). The sealift is carrying unusually large quantities of some non-perishable foods, ordered by retailers in anticipation of shrinking air-freight subsidies later this year (CBC). Those subsidies will be disappearing under new Nutrition North provisions. Shipping country food, however, has gotten a boost as Qikiqtani First Aviation and Sakku First Aviation lowered rates (NN).
Further protests of the high cost of food in Nunavut are planned by group “Feeding My Family” in August (NN); the group’s assessment of differing food costs in the South and North – which really is shocking – is available here. Lessee Papatsie, creator of Feeding My Family, asked Baffinland (of the Mary River iron project) whether they’d be willing to bring their ships up carrying food cargo before sending them back out with iron; Erik Madsen, the company’s VP for sustainable development, says the ships aren’t designed to safely make their way into shallower ports or carry foodstuffs as cargo (NN). Folks elsewhere are making well-intended gestures of help; an Ottawa-based organic food delivery service is planning to work within Nutrition North policies to try out a weekly food market in Iqaluit beginning in August (NN). A comparable program in Yellowknife to provide edible but discarded food from retailers and restaurants to the city’s needy residents got a two-year reprieve from eviction from its current location (NNSO), while in Whitehorse the arrival of a KFC (an essential part of a healthy diet) was greeted with much fanfare (CBC).
Management of narwhal hunts in Canada may be changing, as Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) proposed a system that would calculate and distribute catch-quotas according to distinct narwhal populations as opposed to human communities (EOTA). Nunavut Tunngavik Inc questioned DFO’s recommendations on several different counts; Nunatsiaq News has a clear review of the back and forth. Looks like beluga hunting has started, at any rate, based on a photo from Serina Putuguq.
The melting of permafrost underlying sections of the Alcan – the long highway that connects Canada to Alaska – is creating a growing engineering challenge, covered brilliantly and at length in this week’s New York Times (annoying repetitive login and search required). Air connections are changing, too, with a new buyout of a Canadian regional airline (ncsnwt.com), a new air terminal in the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok (ITAR-TASS) and growth in the Yakutia airlines fleet (Avia Time). In Yellowknife, an abandoned steam cleaner festively dressed in Christmas-themed wrapping paper frightened everyone out of the city’s airport (CBC). Hell hath no fury like a steam cleaner scorned.
The good people of Fairbanks are trying to pump life back in to their sister-city relationship with Yakutsk (FNM), while much-covered plans by Northwestel to upgrade its internet infrastructure in the Canadian North suffered a brutal, well-written and - god bless it - analytical whacking at the hands of SSi Micro (whacking here, press release here). I don’t want to get involved here, but it’s fun (and so unusual!) to see someone actually go through a plan in detail, rather than just run back and forth shrieking about how it’s the best thing ever or, alternatively, the penultimate step on the road to hell.
Another development helping us to work better with one another: Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario will begin offering an Inuktitut language course in the fall (CBC).
Finally, I usually skip over anything about conferences, which I see as (with occasional exceptions) an enormous waste of time and money. But this looks cool: a conference on urbanization in the Arctic, which will take place in Nuuk, Greenland at the end of August. Now THAT is an interesting trend that nobody’s bothered to talk much about. It would be interesting to know if disproportionately high crime rates in Canada’s northern territories (CBC), including drugs and weapons trafficking (WS), are related at all to this trend. While urbanization may be speeding up in the North, a potpourri of inherent/chronic issues for Canada’s First Nations communities is the subject of a much talked-about op-ed in the Globe & Mail.
Now, a few pieces that fit nowhere else. A one-year review of a system that monitors health and social data about mothers and young children in Nunavut has been a brought some privacy concerns to light (NN). Inuvik’s Great Northern Arts Festival has come to an end (CBC). The deadline for residential school survivors to submit compensation claims is coming soon (NN). A municipal workers’ strike in Fort Smith, NWT is running much longer than I expected it to (CBC). Firefighters in Hay River, NWT got some cool training in rappelling that should help them to broaden their rescue “repertoire” (hayriverhub.com). An impassioned but confusingly composed letter to Nunatsiaq News seems to want to point out that LGBT and aboriginal communities in Canada would do better at a national level if they worked together.
ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE and WILDLIFE
Let’s start this week with animals, from small to large. At the very bottom of the food chain, plankton surprised researchers this week by making their way from equatorial regions on pulses of warm water from the Atlantic up to the Arctic Ocean near Norway (phys.org). Also at the bottom of the food chain, but infinitely more pestilent, mosquitoes are likely to benefit from a warming Arctic with earlier maturation (NN). Hooray! Slightly larger things that crawl – to wit, a pseudoscorpion found in the Yukon – were the objects of a cranky and delightful love letter from entomologist Christopher Buddle at McGill.
Clams are useful as stationary observers of aquatic pollution, and scientist Carol Reinisch believes they’re critical enough for this purpose that she’s self-funding a study of the creatures in the Northwest Passage to get the baseline data necessary to assess their future response to aquatic pollution (CBC). Likewise, baseline data on the habits of beluga whales are lacking, and scientists from Oceans North Canada are doing their best to remedy the situation with what sounds like an entertaining project tagging beluga whales by catching them…by hand (WFP). That cannot be an elegant process.
Moving on to land, scientists are concerned that changes in the life cycles of lemmings may lead ultimately to changes elsewhere in the Arctic ecosystems, as these cute creatures provide an important source of snacks for larger animals (sciencenordic.com). In Alaska, a baby walrus, yet to be named, was found stranded near Barrow, rescued and brought to the Alaska SeaLife Center where it spends its day being “tactile and social,” which translates to: cuddling with its handlers. In the Northwest Territories, residents are concerned about possible spread of anthrax infections from bison killed nearby by the naturally-occurring microbes. Scientists say: not to worry (CBC).
Finishing, as we so often do, with polar bears, Finnish news service YLE provided the most adorable pictures of a mother and cub playing with Olympic-ring tires and a Finnish flag at the Ranua Zoo. Less adorably, a polar bear attacked a woman in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Québec (CBC). Several different news outlets reported this week on research that the iconic bears, during their time on this earth, have interbred with brown bears often enough to leave distinct markings in brown bears’ DNA (AD).
Big numbers make for big press, and the news that 97% of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet was seen melting at the same time got lots of news outlets that don’t often talk about Arctic news (for example, Washington, DC’s News Hour) running to the phones to find people who could speak cogently about it. [For the Arctic Institute’s take on the media’s overheated coverage of the Greenland ice sheet melt, click here.] For good reporting on the flurry of activity among glaciologists and other scientists that led to the announcement, go to spaceref.com. For a quick and level-headed read, head to NPR.
An enormous ice island that calved off of Greenland’s Petermann glacier has also come in, at long last, for a close-up photograph (NASA). It’s not just Greenland’s ice that’s been a hot topic this week; the NSIDC pointed out that ice extent is generally tracking quite low this year, particularly over the Russian Arctic. For a great collection of visual illustrations of precisely that, turn to the Arctic Sea Ice Blog. Commentary on the concept of a last ice area, which is expected to be in Canada, came from WWF, as did a good and level-headed post on the environmental dangers of the Baffinland / Mary River project.
Writing about science itself was surprisingly popular this week. The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat posted an announcement of its upcoming geologic survey, with Danish scientists aboard, to support Denmark’s claims to the Arctic continental shelf. Russia announced that it would look to establish an Arctic Research Center on the Yamal peninsula (VOR), and we read that schools in Yakutia are being recruited to help study permafrost in the province’s Arctic territory (VOR). The research vessel Professor Molchanov got a two-line profile in Voice of Russia as it waits in Arkhangelsk for its departure date of 1 August, while a catalog of the scientific activities of the team aboard the Xue Long was made available by chinare5.com. For a nice infographic of Russia’s scientific stations in the Arctic, turn to RIA Novosti. For a good chuckle, read an article from Barents Nova in which a professor at Moscow State University proposes renaming the Arctic Ocean the “Russian Ocean.” Good luck with that.
The Arctic’s connection to places even yet still farther away was abundantly clear as scientists discovered what appears to be a 25km-wide meteorite crater of ancient vintage on Victoria Island’s Prince Albert peninsula (metronews.ca), while a different group of researchers went to Devon Island to test equipment for use on Mars (CBC).
In new peer-reviewed papers, some fascinating and valuable research on what happens to organic particles (soot, etc.) after they land on Arctic ice has been published in Polar Research. Congratulations to the authors on doing some useful and creative research.
THE SPORTING LIFE
The men rowing across the Arctic Circle must be pleased by their popularity, as they’ve gotten coverage in the Fairbanks News-Miner and in Bloomberg this week. I leave it to you to decide whether the adventure is exactly the kind of thing that MBAs from prestigious schools would, or would not, do. The silly jet-ski Bering-Strait adventurers, after their catch-and-release by Russia’s border patrol, are now making their way through the Northwest Passage (Arctic Sounder). In contrast, a not-made-for-TV journey through Greenland’s waters is getting underway in a tiny boat, with no planned destination, under the motto: Wander, accept, adapt (avannaa.org).
The Telegraph published essentially an advertisement for what I will call an adventure-swimming vacation to Norway’s Lofoten islands, while in Alaska, an unnamed hiker on a long journey across the state appears to have slipped off a cliff to his death in the Brooks Range (AD).
THE GRAB BAG
Tourism is an increasingly important part of the Arctic economy. One person with what we will gently call “vision” sees increased sales and marketing of reindeer milk as one key to further success in this industry (EOTA).
A gentleman fishing for sablefish off of Alaska landed an antique land mine (Bristol Bay Times).
Justin Bieber is Canadian, apparently, which was news to me. He also apparently has enough aboriginal heritage that he “gets free gas” in Canada. His dismissive tweet about this was, as one would imagine, not viewed positively (CBC).
A delightful poster for “Hans Across the Water” beer encourages Danes and Canadians to make beer, not war (National Post).
Yevgeny Nikitin, a bass-baritone from Murmansk, pulled out of the famous Wagner Bayreuth Festival after word of his Nazi-themed tattoos spread (news.com.au).
I loved the lengthy profile of Yakutsk in the Moscow Times.
You’ll drool over Lonely Planet’s list of the 17 top things to do in Norway, released this week.
An entertaining gag from Canadians (I think?)…next in the series that brought you Ice Road Truckers and Ice Pilots, a new reality show called Ice Realtors.
Everyone is assuredly shocked to learn that Russia’s Facebook-lookalike ‘Vkontakte’ is apparently getting “stuffed with porn”. Prosecutors in Murmansk have decided they’re not gonna take it anymore (BN).
A sinkhole on the Slave River in the Northwest Territories devoured a cabin and other miscellaneous things (CBC).
A trick parachutist from Canada’s Air Force dropped a little too hard and broke a few bones following a stunt in Whitehorse (CBC).
Should you wish, you can read Sir Paul McCartney’s full statement as to why he’s chosen to sign Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic petition (Examiner). Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise is also on its way to Murmansk, and the city is preparing for its arrival (BN).
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is trying out solar panels for its new Sustainable Village student housing (FNM).
A flattering profile piece on Syktyvkar, the capital city of the Komi Republic, makes it sound, at the very least, interesting (Arctic Portal).
The NorthMart store in Iqaluit was evacuated after a can of bear spray went off, apparently on its own (CBC).
Yellowknife is looking at a housing boom to help mitigate chronic shortages of the past few years (CBC).
A new sculpture, potentially honoring fishermen’s wives, will soon be installed in Murmansk (BN).
First, this week’s great photo essays on: flying around the Arctic, from starshaped; the wildlife, people and landscapes of the Arctic, from Life on Thin Ice; and on Greenland, from Rebecca Barfoot.
Individual photos of (1) the Yukon River, (2) Klondike National Park, (3) the shore of the Arctic Ocean, (4) people standing on a glacier, (5) Tromsø viewed from above, (6) the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaker Des Groseilliers escorting the Anna Desgagnés in Frobisher Bay, (7) a lake shore with dramatic driftwood, (8 & 9) two icebergs afloat at the coast, (10) a beach in Nunavut, (11) a section of tundra ruined by some dude joyriding on an ATV, (12) a northern meadow, (13) a zeppelin in the Arctic (historical pic), (14) Quttinirpaaq National Park in Nunavut, (15) a thermometer at 31 Celsius in Nuuk, Greenland, and (16) an Arctic poppy.
On to wildlife photos, including (1, 2 & 3) several pictures of a family of loons with two babies, (4) an Arctic hare, (5) an unidentified shorebird, (6 & 7) a budding young naturalist, (8) chicks in a rock-cliff nest, and (9) a black bear.
Nowadays you can actually watch a live-stream of bears in Alaska standing in a river and feasting on salmon (explore.org). I saw three when I clicked on it! What a time to be alive.
This is old (April 2011), but who doesn’t want to look again at polar bear cubs wrasslin’.
For fishing enthusiasts, this long but fun video of net-fishing on the Great Slave Lake will be just the thing.
The Baker Institute gave us an interesting interview with Dr Henry Huntington, the Arctic Program Science Director at the PEW Environment Group, on onshore vs offshore oil spills. The Baker Institute also talked with Alaska’s Lt Governor Mead Treadwell about his perception that the real risk of an Arctic spill is from shipping, not oil drilling.
Alaska Dispatch (AD)
Anchorage Daily News (ADN)
Barents Nova (BN)
Barents Observer (BO)
Eye on the Arctic (EOTA)
Fairbanks News Miner (FNM)
Financial Times (FT)
Globe and Mail (G&M)
Huffington Post (HP)
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)
Whitehorse Star (WS)
Winnipeg Free Press (WFP)