Arctic Blast

27 Dec

  “Arctic Blast” (Annie and the Natural Wonder Band)

Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Arctic Field Program, gave a presentation last month in which she emphasized the need for “approach stewardship.” Due to the fact that the Arctic is a site of rapid and accelerating change, interventions are now required that not only address present concerns, but also anticipate needs of the future. One positive note is that technological progress has been made in the area of assessment; tools that model different scenarios of ecological change have been developed which aid scientists and policy makers in addressing approaching challenges. On a more complex note, the overall catalyst for the majority of problems is climate change.

Although global warming affects the entire Arctic ecosystem, I think it is appropriate that the polar bear serves as an icon for this crisis, given that sea ice is literally melting under his or her feet. Additionally, the image of a powerful creature in such a precarious position, faced with the prospect of losing its “island in the storm” is compelling. Furthermore, anthropogenic sources play a role in the polar bear’s plight; oil and gas drilling as well as Arctic shipping contribute greatly to escalating polar cap, permafrost, and glacier melt. It strikes me as unfortunate, especially for indigenous people whose survival and way of life is increasingly threatened, that increased ice melt translates into easier access to fragile areas for shipping companies and oil and gas companies.

Fortunately, however, I am encouraged by the bold stance Margaret took in a WWF statement dated September 20, 2013, in which she asserts “Global climate emissions must be reduced and the surge in polar shipping must be accompanied by strong, international safety and environmental safeguards. Waiting until the next disastrous Arctic spill is simply not an option.” I could not agree more and I hope that others who feel the same, regardless of their age, will let policy makers know their concerns.
  “Save the Seas” (Annie and the Natural Wonder Band)

– Ann Grilli, AC
Ann is a first year Ada Comstock Scholar and environmental science and policy major. A New York native, Ann now lives in Hadley, MA. Before coming to Smith, Ann and her husband formed Annie and the Natural Wonder Band and have traveled around the world, using their music to teach children about the natural world. They performed “Save the Seas” with a children’s choir from Maryland at the United Nations as part of an international children’s contest focusing on preserving the oceans.

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