By Tom Fries The Arctic This Week – 22 September to 28 September 2012
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READS OF THE WEEK
If you’re pressed for time, the following eight articles will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Four excellent reads, all on Gazprom and the near-term future of Russian hydrocarbons, come from Barents Observer, National Business Review, the Moscow Times and the Washington Post. It’s good analysis and good writing all around, and if this is a topic of interest then you should read them as a group. They complement one another well.
I am a sucker for a good narrative, and as such it’s my pleasure to point to two more excellent articles from Up Here magazine. The first – not a feel-good piece, be warned – comes from Eva Holland. She uses a particularly extraordinary case of one suicide to dig deeply into the ecosystem of issues that generates this troubling and persistent problem in the Canadian North. The second, from Nathan VanderKlippe, is more of a good mystery than anything else, asking whether there might not still be a nuclear weapon sunken beneath the ice between Greenland and Nunavut, left over from the dramatic crash of a military jet in 1968.
For those of you who, like me, are fascinated by the ambitious engineering feats that go into Arctic industry, an article from Yonhap News on the new icebreaking ore-carrier being developed by a Hyundai shipyard in South Korea is greatly to be recommended.
Michael Byers’s latest round of recommendations for Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council is, as always, worth your attention.
BLOOD & TREASURE
Russian forces were in high gear this week, as “over 7,000 men, more than 20 surface ships and submarines, about 30 aircraft, and [approximately] 150 combat vehicles” participated in exercises in the Western Russian Arctic (Naval Today, video on YouTube). The nuclear battle cruiser Pyotr Veliky played a significant role in search-and-rescue components of the exercise (BO); the details of that exercise are described with relish in rusnavy.com. Did you know that Russian navy soldiers knit rugs in their off hours? For a photo of a landing exercise, and an article in Russian, go to nord-news.ru. Russia also announced it would now be basing MiG-31s on Novaya Zemlya (RIAN).
Norway is trying out a mandatory 18 months of service for its military, starting with guards at the Norway-Russia border (BO). The scuttled nuclear submarine K-27, a potential nuclear problem lurking at the bottom of the Kara Sea, presents an interesting engineering problem, but also has a fascinating history (BO). The scrapping of the Polar Sea, one of the US’s only icebreakers, and long out of service, has been postponed (Seattle Times).
Total CEO Christophe de Margerie’s announcement that the company sees Arctic oil (oil, specifically) drilling as too risky because of potential environmental catastrophes was the biggest news of the week – the CEO announced “a leak would do too much damage to the image of the company” (G&M, Greenpeace). Shell quite naturally felt itself compelled to say that Arctic drilling comes with enormous potential and enormous responsibility, and that the company feels it’s prepared (Guardian). Simultaneously, Shell representative Guy Outen said at a Sakhalin-focused hydrocarbon event that Shell’s interest in co-development of Arctic resources in Russia abides (BN).
A dust-up between Norway and the European Parliament’s Environment Committee over a moratorium on Arctic drilling was a side story, as Norway’s Deputy Oil & Energy Minister Per Rune Henriksen made it clear that Norway’s plans for drilling won’t be meaningfully affected by whatever the EP may decide to do (AB).
Excellent week for writing on Russian hydrocarbons! Dive into the following articles together. Gazprom and Rosneft are forming an alliance of convenience in the interest of maintaining their privileged position on Russia’s Arctic shelf (BO), but the larger partner is beginning to face meaningful challenges to its dominance and business practices both from without and within (excellent piece from National Business Review). Will these challenges mean a systemic change to the company’s “bizarre” investment choices? Maybe, maybe not (MT). The Washington Post’s similarly-themed article is an excellent and detailed overview of the changes that may be ahead for Gazprom and of the company’s historic role in the Russian political system. The hydrocarbon industry in Russia’s northern latitudes is the subject of a massive but excellent article from the CBC, and Reuters takes a look at the future of tax regimens for remote oil fields.
In other Russian news, Exxon and Rosneft’s exploration plans in the Kara Sea are taking them close to the site of Soviet-era nuclear waste dumps (Bloomberg), and Pechora LNG and Gazprom had some positive news on the development of infrastructure to support processing and export of LNG from fields in the Timan Pechora province (BO, BusinessWeek). State-owned Zarubezhneft has taken over production at the Peschanoozerskoye oil facility on Kolguyev Island in the Barents Sea, currently Russia’s only functioning oil field in the Barents (BO, Upstream). Standard & Poor’s published its base-case scenario for Novatek for 2012, which makes interesting reading (Reuters). Gazprom will be entering a new market for the company, providing LNG as fuel for ships (NGE). The geological composition of the Yuzhno-Russkoye oil & gas field, and what promise it might hold for future production by operator Severneftegazprom, are the subject of an article I only halfway understand from Oil & Gas Eurasia.
News from Aftenbladet suggests a banner year for Statoil. The company has discovered more oil and gas already this year than in all of 2011 (AB), and is in the worldwide lead as the most acquisitive company (by value) over the last 12 months (AB). The young are taking notice, as 161 two-year trainees started their programs at Statoil’s various facilities (AB). Statoil isn’t the only company looking optimistically at its Arctic future, as Danish company Maersk Drilling looks at possibilities to assert its own place in the field (Copenhagen Post). And not everything is sunny for Statoil, as labor disputes – even those that are eventually resolved – continue to roil the waters (Platts).
An assortment of other Scandinavian news: Aker Solutions has won a (big?) contract to supply components of a new jack-up rig being built in China (AB). Seadrill has awarded a contract to Samsung to build a new ultra-deepwater drillship (AB). A wind park near Tromsø capable of serving up to 7,000 Norwegian households has newly opened (BO). Company Egersund Trawl and Marine is working on development of better technology for cleaning up surface oil spills (AB).
Alaska’s governor Sean Parnell is eager to start LNG production from Alaska’s North Slope to serve Asian markets, and he’s putting pressure on Exxon Mobil, BP and ConocoPhillips to find the best way to do so (Bloomberg), as well as making marketing trips to Japan and Korea (FNM). Eagerness to secure the potential benefits of increased shipping through the Bering Strait has Aleutian islanders looking to Memphis, TN – a FedEx hub city – as a model for their own future development (AD). Meanwhile the editorial staff of Bloomberg suggests that this year’s eventual deceleration in Shell’s Alaskan drilling plans is an opportunity that should not be missed for the federal government to review its safety regulations. The heads of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Ducks Unlimited came together to write an op-ed highlighting the preference of cooperation over competition in planning for the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (CNN). Is that realistic, if even US Senator Mark Begich and Governor Parnell are trading nastygrams over the issue (ADN)? Senator Murkowski, at least, appears to have successfully badgered her federal colleagues into a substantial increase in funding for cleanup efforts of the exploratory wells in the NPR-A (AD).
The town of Wainwright continues to be the focus of a lot of press coverage as a developing case study in the benefits and costs of offshore exploration for remote Arctic communities (LA Times), while the town of Kivalina’s attempted lawsuit against a collection of energy companies for causing the climate change that is slowly washing away their town has been rejected (Forbes). Meanwhile Eye on the Arctic’s excellent series comparing drilling offshore to drilling in ANWR, and asking how the decision was made to pursue the former and forego the latter, continues (Part 2, Part 3).
In assorted other North American news: The village of False Pass in the Aleutian chain may soon be the first town in the US to get its energy from ocean currents (KUCB). The Nunavut Petroleum Workshop is coming up in a couple of weeks. The NWT’s Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment struck back at critics of the recent sale of a Beaufort Sea license to oil “minor” Franklin Petroleum, saying that any investment in the area is welcome (CBC). Tlicho in the NWT is in the process of installing a wood-pellet boiler to take care of municipal buildings’ heating needs (Arctic Energy Alliance).
General recaps of Arctic oil drilling, for those needing an introduction, come from Al Jazeera and the Falls Church News-Press.
[Russia & Scandinavia]
Alrosa’s discovery of a ridiculously large diamond caught headlines this week (RIAN), as did the country’s announcement that it might soon offer a tender for a massive and as-yet-undeveloped gold deposit in its East (Reuters). On the Kola Peninsula, the argument over a road through a national park to be developed in order to carry apatite from a mine to a processing center has been resolved by the government’s commitment to step in and create an “environmentally friendly” solution (MT). Next door in northern Finland, a new gold deposit – possibly of high quality – has been discovered by an Australian firm (YLE), while the video on Greenland’s possible mineral-based future from New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal can be seen here.
The first Inuit-owned mining development company, after receiving a commitment of $1mn from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, has gone on a road show on Wall Street looking for further mining investment (NN, WSJ). A representative of organization NORD-STAR is exploring the societal benefits of Arctic oil & gas exploration. Test results from the Rackla gold project in Yukon are apparently positive, though I don’t know exactly how to interpret them (CMJ). The Nunavut Impact Review Board has recommended using digital technology to improve participation of Inuit in discussions related to the Mary River project (isuma.tv).
ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE and WILDLIFE
[General news of imminent disaster]
Researchers analyzing unsaturated fats in algae buried in sediment on Svalbard have concluded that the Arctic is now warmer than at any time in the past 1,800 years (Columbia U, plus a great photo essay on the expedition itself), and Professor Peter Wadhams continues to command headlines by underbidding everyone else on how soon the ice will be completely gone during the summer (Guardian). He suggests as well that it is time for radical measures – geoengineering – to mitigate the disaster. That suggestion is pecked away at a bit by a thoughtful article from the Oxford Martin school and a somewhat spottier blog post, while the probably more realistic John Yackel suggests that, although the impact of the accelerating melt is not to be underestimated, “it will be very hard to stop it with any changes we make in the near or midterm future” (CTV News). For illustrative images of the new minimum, check the American Geophysical Union blog.
Scientists with the National Snow & Ice Data Center say that a trend towards a later refreeze date each year is difficult to spot because “the record is pretty noisy.” NASA supports that assessment with a video pointing out that the summer’s Arctic cyclone played a key role in the new ice-extent minimum (Reuters Video). CNN points again to the fact that permafrost will thaw and tundra will dry out and burn, while NPR’s Richard Harris points to new complementary research showing that the pace of snowmelt on-land is accelerating even faster than the pace of ice-melt on the sea. That issue is covered really well, and at greater length, in Wired Science, while Alaska Dispatch gets the Alaska-specific view of the impact of this summer’s new minimum.
Commentary on the above runs as follows: The melt is happening much quicker than anyone anticipated. This is a terrible thing which will affect weather, farming, etc. far beyond the Arctic itself in ways we cannot anticipate. Only drastic action can save us now, if anything can. The press, politicians and most people in general aren’t doing nearly enough about it. Many companies see it as a commercial opportunity for shipping and resource exploration. Depending on your preference, take a read from Scientific American, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Irish Times or the Sydney Morning Herald.
Finally, I heartily thank Media Matters for taking the trouble to actually do some number crunching rather than just loudly expressing a fuzzy, completely subjective perception that “the media” is not paying “enough” attention to the new ice-extent minimum. Good and diligent people that they are, they put some numbers to it, and discovered that six major American TV news networks have, since June, covered Paul Ryan’s workout routine in seven full segments and 66 mentions, whereas the new ice-extent minimum garnered only one full segment and 20 mentions. Thanks guys: NOW we have something to talk about, although I’d still be interested to see the numbers just from early August onward, since that’s when Paul Ryan was announced as the new VP candidate and a new minimum ice-extent began to look like an inevitability.
Other intelligent commentary worth your while to read came from two WWF representatives. First, Jon Hoekstra puts forth a sensible argument that a pristine environment also has massive economic benefits in jobs and industry for Alaska, most particularly in the realms of fisheries and tourism. You can also listen to a brief and engaging audio interview with Mr Hoekstra from KCRW. Second, Carter Roberts in a succinct letter to the editor of the New York Times argues that the first step to figuring out what should be done in the Arctic is mapping out the resources that are there, and deciding how we value them. For more from WWF, check out the latest edition of its online newsletter The Arc or download its longer PDF The Circle.
Norway and Russia are arranging future expeditions to continue describing and monitoring radioactive waste in former Soviet “dumps” in the Kara Sea (BO). Nearby, a group of Russian scientists is on its way to Novaya Zemlya to look for William Barents’s ship Mercury and, hopefully, return with some artifacts from the wreck (BO). Across the ocean, scientists off of Canada’s Arctic coast are studying methane bubbling from the sea floor to examine what changes it creates on the sea floor itself (phys.org), while Julienne Strove of the National Snow and Ice Data Center shared some post-expedition reflections as she headed home from an expedition looking at sea ice.
Starting with three different apex predators, the US Senate has apparently been uncertain what it ought to do for or against the hunters who killed Canadian polar bears back in 2008, right before it was made illegal to bring trophy bears across the border. The bears are still frozen in Canada, waiting to be picked up (HP). Charles Monnett probably never expected that his fame as “that scientist with the drowned polar bears” would extend quite so far into the future, but he’s still making news today (FNM), while one blogger takes issue with data recently published to support conclusions about the population of the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population. The polar bears take no note of all this, preferring instead to congregate in large numbers over a rotting whale carcass in Kaktovik (AD).
Still on land, new research demonstrates that the fertility of Arctic reindeer has a strong negative correlation with aggregate rainfall (france24.com), while if we head out to sea we find scientists preparing for an initiative to tag Greenland sharks in an effort to study these mysterious creatures’ habits and make some guesses about what increased fishing might do to their populations (EOTA). Elsewhere, a team that’s been tagging narwhal has broken camp for the summer (Vancouver Sun).
[Other Science news]
Canada’s research efforts in the area of natural resources and environment appear to be failing to thrive (o.canada.com), though planning for the to-be-developed Canadian High Arctic Research Station is proceeding nonetheless (NN). Local residents have expressed a strong wish that the Station will serve to integrate modern scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge (a current example of which can be seen at skepticalscience.com) for the benefit of both disciplines (NN). In the US, Alaska’s senator Mark Begich has also introduced a bill to increase support for America’s Arctic research initiatives (ANN).
Back in Canada, researchers are monitoring the glaciers that feed the Yukon River in order to get a sense of “the potential impacts of climate change on the ability to generate hydro-electric power” (CBC). Scientists elsewhere are studying “ice quakes” caused by the calving of Greenland’s glaciers (NYTimes). Work at the Ekati diamond mine in the NWT appears to have accidentally uncovered a 50mn year old chunk of redwood tree (Fox). The Korea Polar Research Institute appears to have money to spend on collaborations with researchers that might expand the Institute’s capabilities and research portfolio, but I’m not clear on what sorts of proposals they’re looking for – give it a look if you’re looking for funding.
THE POLITICAL SCENE
[International and cross-border issues]
Canada will soon take up the scepter as head of the Arctic Council, and this has been the occasion for much discussion about what, precisely, it should press during its turn on the throne. A recent meeting in Ottawa, at which TAI’s own Kathrin Keil presented, covered suggestions from Michael Byers and others as to new structures to manage Arctic fisheries and other issues (Edmonton Journal, and Byers’s paper here). Alaska Dispatch takes a measured look at the ongoing process of resolving territorial claims under UNCLOS, and a fine article comes from Charles Aruliah on iPolitics.ca, who points to the many different ways in which the Arctic is NOT like the current South China Sea in its potential for disputes. The Arctic Council isn’t a big enough venue for Finland, apparently, which is angling for a seat on the UN Security Council (YLE).
NOTE: A shoddy retread article from the Strategic Culture Foundation runs on at enormous length in the look-out-for-Arctic-war-next-week vein, and then – shamelessly, with neither the least attempt to disguise it nor any indication of a citation – simply PLAGIARIZES its obvious, twice-reheated conclusion from a 2010 article in the American Interest. It also includes text essentially lifted from a July 2012 article from the Russian Council, among probably several others, although I stopped spot-checking in disgust. Lame, Mr Akulov.
Looking now to more bilateral issues, EU involvement in the Arctic might be easier for regional actors to swallow if presented as an interest in climate change, instead of as an interest in foreign policy (Public Service Europe). The EU is meanwhile in a stubborn fight with Russia over a proposed new visa regimen under which the EU wants important privileges extended to European NGO representatives as well (BO). Visa applications at the Finnish consulate in Murmansk are meanwhile piling up at a terrifying pace (BN photo). While they rush to visit Finland, Russians are also taking to Twitter to “chat with” US Ambassador Michael McFaul, who opened himself to questions via Twitter last Wednesday (RIAN). Meanwhile Russian and Japanese representatives will be meeting again in mid-October in yet one more effort to resolve their territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands (Japan Times).
[China and South Korea]
South Korea’s handy management of its Arctic ambitions is the subject of a brief overview in Eye on the Arctic with many useful links to more detailed resources, while Xinhua covered the homecoming to Shanghai of the Xuelong and the Whitehorse Star reviewed Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski’s recent signing of a “sister province agreement” with the Chinese state of Shaanxi.
The US’s icebreaker poverty is the subject of an editorial in the Seattle Times, while at the federal level several democratic senators have asked the Department of the Interior to hit the “pause” button indefinitely on plans for drilling in US federal Arctic waters (Common Dreams). More locally, the city of Unalaska in the Aleutian chain is pleased to have numerous representatives on the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (KUCB).
In Canada, two parliamentarians made a failed bid to generate an emergency debate on the new ice-extent minimum (EOTA) – what precisely they hoped to achieve thereby is not clear. Meanwhile the Government of Nunavut seems to be working happily together with the federal government on certain issues like infrastructure (Gov’t of Canada) while pushing simultaneously for greater independence through the devolution process (NN). At the provincial level, Nunavik is engaged in the painful, slow debate with Québec over which parcels of land should be permissible for industrial development, and which should be left alone (NN), while in the NWT Minister David Ramsay spoke – a well-written speech, I have to say – on the politics and possibilities of development in the Sahtu Region. And at the most local level, the race to be the new mayor of Whitehorse now has a final list of five competitors (WS).
Three articles on Russia that are tangentially relevant to the Arctic come: from Natural Gas Europe (sketchily edited, be warned) on Putin’s grand strategy for continuing Russia’s dominance as a gas supplier; from the Asia Times, on Siberia’s potential future as a hydrocarbon provider politically preferable to the Middle East; and from Barents Nova, on Russia’s increasingly broad definition of what constitutes “treason” – yikes.
Moving to Scandinavia: the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund may be the source of “overheating” in the country’s economy, whatever that might mean (AB); and the Icelandic government’s decision to use the Euro as a new currency will depend on whether the Euro and the Krona stabilize, and which does so first (IceNews).
SHIPPING, FISHING and OTHER INDUSTRIAL NEWS
The Franklin Expedition may have come home without the Erebus and the Terror, but it didn’t come home empty-handed altogether. New hydrographic data collected by the expedition will allow ships to safely navigate the Alexandra Strait, saving time and money (CBC). Alaska is also pushing forward with plans for a Port Authority to help with development of a new deep-water port, as well as expanded port infrastructure in general (Port Strategy). Elsewhere, a great article from Yonhap News takes a closer look at the new icebreaking ore-carrier being developed by a Hyundai shipyard in South Korea, and potential rules to ensure that shipping activity does little additional direct harm to the Arctic environment are under consideration (2 Degrees Network).
In a gesture of solidarity with their companions of industry across the Pacific, a group of West Coast American fishing companies is sending $375,000 to their counterparts in Northeastern Japan to help them rebuild after the destruction of the tsunami of March 2011 (SitNews). In Alaska, prices for several stocks are dropping substantially, making for a difficult season for halibut and black cod fisheries particularly (BBT). For detailed numbers on Alaska’s salmon fisheries this season, go to Alaska Dispatch and the Cordova Times. Elsewhere in Alaska, some communities are pushing for changes to the allocation of shares of fisheries resources – apparently these are distributed among communities according to some factor other than population size right now (Dutch Harbor Fisherman), and the allowable crab catch for much of the northern Bering Strait is to be discussed and set in a couple of weeks (Cordova Times).
In Europe, Norway is set to increase its cod quota for 2013 by 25%, as part of an overall vision for growth of the industry (fishupdate.com). The industry already is Norway’s largest export commodity. Norway’s catch of salmon in the Barents, however, appears to be impinging on Russian stocks; this is the source of a dispute between the two countries (fishandfly.com). At a global level, data on fisheries is relatively poor; some researchers are trying to use new techniques to establish better estimates of populations and thus make better basis judgments for fisheries-management programs (Science Daily).
As Canada and Norway continue to push forward via the WTO to contest an EU ban on imported seal products (NN), buyers worldwide purchased CAD1.5mn in furs of various kinds from the NWT, a growth of 25% over 2011 (Gov’t of NWT). In Finland, animal rights groups are attempting to use a ballot initiative to get legislation before parliament that would ban fur farms (YLE).
[Other industrial news]
Company Verdantix has come out with a new report looking at the Arctic as an emerging economy, and suggesting it will rival others (in what way?) by 2025. The city of Murmansk is working on drawing some of that development to itself with improved tax regimes to incentivize businesses (BO). Newly eased border-crossing regulations are certainly helping Russian border towns Nikel and Zapolyarny benefit from day-tripping Norwegian guests (BO), and programs trying to nurture a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in the Barents region will likely have a positive impact on the whole region’s growth over the long term (BO). Meanwhile Rovaniemi is inviting Russian investors in to explain the virtues of setting up shop in the Finnish north (BN), and the mining sector in NWT is forecast to be the driver of overall economic growth for the territory in the year to come (WS).
A Yukon-based startup distiller might be looking at broader success thanks to a brief appearance on a popular CBC TV show (WS). Finland is desperately looking for more staff to bolster its offerings in data security (YLE).
HEALTH, EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURE and SOCIETY
Incomprehensibly, someone broke into the greenhouse in Inuvik, NWT and sprayed a fire extinguisher around, rendering much, or all, of the produce inedible (CBC). In better food news, the hunt for narwhal has been successful in Cambridge Bay (NN), the guillemot harvest in Greenland is the subject of a sort of Gothic photo collection, and hospital patients in Iqaluit may soon be fed primarily with frozen food shipped up from Ottawa, as well as with country food prepared locally (NN). The new Frobisher Market in Iqaluit might not yet be in full accordance with health-safety laws, though it’s clearly well-intended (CBC), and the political debate over the Nutrition North program continues as it has (Carolyn Bennett’s blog).
Whooping cough has appeared twice as often as usual in Alaska this year (FNM), and Norway is dealing with coughing of another sort altogether by sustaining a ban on visible presentation of cigarettes in retail stores (IceNews). A doctor in Canada says that children with substance-abuse problems should not be sent away for treatment; instead, they should be treated on-site, as the causes of that substance abuse are often part and parcel of the communities in which they live (CBC). For a no-longer-new but still extremely informative resource on Inuit health, look to a massive (360-page) collection of interviews with Inuit elders on health issues (tradition-orale.ca).
A profile of a young man who killed himself by jumping from a plane on his way home from psychiatric treatment in Yellowknife is difficult, and important, to read. Thanks to Eva Holland at Up Here. Family Violence Awareness Week took place in the Northwest Territories this week (GNWT), and the Kamatsiaqtut Helpline – an irreplaceable resource when it’s needed – is making efforts to recruit and train additional volunteers (NN).
The BBC reported this week on rural communities’ lack of access to broadband, and how that hampers economic development. This is of course a major issue around the Arctic, but the process of pushing for fiber-optic cable connecting many Alaskan and Canadian Arctic communities to a high-speed Tokyo-London line is slowly advancing (EOTA, detailed article from NN). Meanwhile bottom-of-the-pack cellular and internet service in terms of speed and coverage continue to underserve northern residents (NN). Companies are promising improvements (IT World Canada), while arguing that satellite systems are a better long-term option than the proposed fiber-optic system (NN). Those companies are also competing with one another for the (surely meager?) business of northern customers (NN), and agreeing to work together to ensure that federal subsidies for their businesses remain in place (NN).
Improvements to basic transport infrastructure are also a crying need of northern communities. Shipping companies are frustrated by the absence of even semi-modern docking facilities in Iqaluit, where so much must be shipped in (EOTA). In Kativik, airport staffing shortages and other public transport issues were on the docket at the recent regional government meeting (NN). In the Northwest Territories, maintaining adequate roads under conditions of constant freezing and melting is a big problem (CBC). And in Alaska, flood damage to the railroad running between Anchorage and Fairbanks may ultimately cost $3mn in repairs and lost revenue (FNM), though the railroad did resume operations early last week (FNM). The same round of flooding ate away at the Parks Highway near Denali National Park (FNM).
Residential and commercial energy infrastructure can also be dangerously frail; strong winds in Pangnirtung were enough to knock out power to many customers (CBC), and the island of St George in the Pribiloff group is facing a real crisis as the supplier of gas, fuel oil, diesel, etc. pulls out – who will bring in these critical supplies (AD, with great pics and a documentary)? Norway is also looking at investments of several billion dollars in its own power-transport infrastructure in order to better serve northern industries and communities (Reuters).
Finally, Nunavik is trying to figure out better ways to reduce and reuse the waste the community produces (NN), and a new state-of-the-art sewage treatment facility in Dawson City is great, but may be expensive in the long run (CBC).
This past week has been Nunavut Literacy Week with the publication of new books from and for Nunavut (NN), and many Alaskan college students from coastal villages are enjoying support for their studies from the Coastal Villages Region Fund (Dutch Harbor Fisherman).
Numerous news outlets have taken a particular interest this week in the northern communities likely to be affected by development of Arctic hydrocarbon resources. The BBC looks at Point Hope, while the LA Times produced a photo essay to accompany its article on Wainwright, Alaska, and Alaska Dispatch takes a look at Kaktovik.
A new study finds that Canada is the second most satisfied country in the world, behind Denmark (CBC). Of Canada’s residents, Nunavut inhabitants are least satisfied. The growth and decline of the arts industry in Canada’s North is the subject of a long piece in Eye on the Arctic by Eilis Quinn, as well as a narrated slide show.
THE SPORTING LIFE
In the only sports news coming from outside the Canadian press, the Atlantic published a long piece on the trip of the Belzebub II, the first unfortified boat through the M’Clure Strait route of the Northwest Passage. The hunt season for antlerless moose begins in Fairbanks on Monday 1 October (FNM).
All else comes from Canada, and most of that from sporty Whitehorse, where the Yukon Curling Association (like FIFA, but for curling, and just for the Yukon) is having a very tough time getting enough board members interested (WS). Other winter sports are getting ready to pick up, with snowmobilers gritting their teeth in the face of new rules and licenses needed (WS) and speed skating getting started with a training camp (WS). Fall sports are still having their day, with cross-country running booming (WS), as illustrated by some sporty photos from the Yukon Cross Country Championship. And let us not forget our beloved canine companions: dog-powered sports like the freight pull and the two-dog canicross were contested as well (WS).
Last we go to soccer. One of the coaches of Iqaluit’s recent youth soccer program pleads for the continued availability of the Arctic Winter Games turf facilities for area youngsters (NN), and the NWT is proud to send a women’s team to the Canadian Soccer Association National Championships Jubilee Trophy competition for the first time (canadasoccer.com).
THE GRAB BAG
Now to those pieces of news that fit nowhere else.
First, an awesome article from Up Here magazine looks at the possibility that a Cold War-era nuclear bomb is still underwater somewhere between Greenland and Nunavut after the crash of a jet in 1968. / A family in Barrow, AK is convinced that Bigfoots live on the North Slope (AD). / These photos don’t look doctored, but I’m no expert – there is apparently a disco polar bear near Bernard Spit, AK. / The wreck of Robert Scott’s SS Terra Nova was discovered off the coast of Greenland (IceNews). / Fairbanks is the enfant terrible of Alaska when it comes to EPA-mandated clean-air plans (FNM). / Iceland’s been enjoying awesome northern lights (IceNews). / A 6.4 earthquake shook the western Aleutian islands (FNM). / A lawsuit filed by a couple against the Yukon government for slaughtering their reindeer in 2005 has been tossed (WS). / Rescuers were still finding buried sheep alive ten days after a mighty blizzard in Northeast Iceland (Iceland Review). / Casting a very wide net, the CBC asked some prominent Northerners about their most significant cultural memories. / If history is your thing, dive into this manuscript report of William Bradford’s journey to Greenland, published 1873. / A plane crash in Finland’s North killed two men (YLE).
Start your perusing with these excellent photo essays covering (1) a bird-watching trip to the North Pole aboard the icebreaker Yamal (note – not new, but worth seeing), (2) a wonderful series of photos of Yakutia in fall, (3) another great series of pics of ANWR from various photographers, and (4) a quick batch of eight photos of Murmansk. If you’re interested in pushing your own Arctic photography a little further into the public eye, you could do so with a contribution to ITK’s 2013 calendar, which supports hunters.
Enjoy these individual pictures of (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) several beautiful Arctic landscapes, (6, 7) winter life in Yakutia, (8) a dumpster urging residents of Barrow, AK to “save the whales…for dinner”, (9) a closed-down lodge on the Alaska Highway and (10) winter ptarmigans in flight.
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)
Alaska Dispatch (AD)
Alaska Native News (ANN)
Anchorage Daily News (ADN)
Barents Nova (BN)
Barents Observer (BO)
Bristol Bay Times (BBT)
Canadian Mining Journal (CMJ)
Eye on the Arctic (EOTA)
Fairbanks News Miner (FNM)
Financial Times (FT)
Globe and Mail (G&M)
Huffington Post (HP)
Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN)
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)