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Frozen Government, Melting Arctic

Arctic_melt_trends_graphAs the U.S. government freezes, the Arctic continues to melt. This is not a healthy state of affairs. In a recent article in Roll Call, Sherri Goodman and Robert Gagosian of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative call for greater attention to a rapidly-changing Arctic by Congress and the White House. While in the coming days U.S. government officials are more likely to be exploring dining and drinking deals than the Arctic seas, it is a crucial issue that should be taken up as soon as possible, not least because it should lend itself to bipartisan cooperation.

The Arctic, and how to deal with it, is also relevant to broader discussions over budget cuts and national security needs.  Todd Harrison outlined the “Defense Cuts Conundrum” in Foreign Affairs where he made the argument that in a resource strained environment, defense strategy will need to focus on prioritizing near-term risks or preparing for future risks.  Goodman and Gagosian outline why changes in the Arctic present both near-term and long-term risks, and should be treated as such.  They note:

Our country’s lagging investment in, and attention to, the Arctic requires immediate action and concrete commitments. With average temperatures in the region rising twice as fast as the rest of the globe, the Arctic is on the frontlines of global change. And rapidly-changing conditions at the top of the world will certainly affect all of us, regardless of where we live.

Read the full article here.

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