Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Our Future Depends on the Arctic

December 14, 2019

New York Times Op-Ed

Our Future Depends on the Arctic

Save it from the ravages of warming and we can save the planet.

By Durwood J. Zaelke and Paul Bledsoe

The authors work for groups focused on climate policy.

Sea ice in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in June.Credit…Christopher Miller for The New York Times

As the United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, warned when opening the Conference of the Parties of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25): “The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the Arctic.

The consequences of losing the Arctic, which plays a critical stabilizing role in the global climate, are catastrophic. The world needs an all-out effort to keep the Arctic safe. This requires cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, of course, but also attacking short-lived climate pollutants — especially black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone.

The risk of losing the Arctic’s stabilizing function for the global climate now appears far greater than the risk of experimenting with geoengineering. So, in addition, we need to put geoengineering into the policy mix, despite its hazards, moral or otherwise.

Save the Arctic, and we’ll have a chance to save the climate. 

Editorial available at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/14/opinion/sunday/climate-change-arctic.html