(Fairbanks, Ak.) An International seminar on extractive industries in the Arctic is happening at the University of Alaska Fairbanks this weekend. UAF history professor and seminar organizer Terrance Cole says it’s bringing together participants from numerous circumpolar nations to discuss the increasing focus on developing the Arctic’s largely untapped resources.
“The Arctic and sub-Arctic is really opening up to the outside world in a way that has never occurred before in human history. The Arctic has remained sort of a potential warehouse, in part because it was so difficult to get to, but improvements in technology and transportation are changing the equation.”
Cole says resource extraction will also be looked at relative to parallel environmental and culture values, and competing governmental jurisdictions.
“It really calls for international cooperation on a scale that’s really hard to imagine, but in the Arctic, we’re going to have to.”
Cole notes that the United States is playing catch up in asserting itself in the Arctic, relative to other world superpowers like Russia and China.
“A late entrant I suppose in the race, typified by President Obama saying let’s start building some ice breakers. You know right now, we’re really almost at a 19th century level with our ice breakers, with a couple icebreakers that don’t really work so well. We’re just not in the same league as China or Russia on that.”
The extractive industries seminar is being put on by UAF in conjunction with the cooperative network of international higher education institutions known as “The University of the Arctic”. ###