REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Much has been made in recent years about the impending age of the Arctic. Some envision a future in which massive cargo vessels crawl haphazardly over an ice-free Arctic Ocean. Others see a future devastatingly impacted by the continued decline of sea ice, along with the accompanying ocean acidification and melting of permafrost on lands above the Arctic Circle. Still others see the potential for resource development, or for trade with new neighbors in new ways.
But whose vision for the future Arctic is the right one? And when will the change come?
The reality is much of it is already coming, and perhaps all of the predictions are correct to some extent. It’s not happening -- and never was going to happen -- overnight. Instead, it’s been a gradual movement north, a heightened interest in the growing potential of the region.
And now, in the town of Reykjavík, Iceland, just south of the Arctic Circle, a meeting of minds to discuss just that potential -- and the inevitable accompanying hangover of Arctic melt -- is convening in an effort to focus the discussion on an international scale.
The Arctic Circle is holding its inaugural confab this weekend. Co-founded by Alaska Dispatch Publisher Alice Rogoff and Icelandic President Ólafur Grímsson, the event features speakers, panels and presentations focused on the future of the world’s far north.