The melting Arctic is fertile ground for businesses. But continued oil exploration poses an ethical dilemma

(Eco Business, 15 Oct 2019) Norway’s Arctic residents are facing hardships from rapid warming, which is also affecting communities in Asia. But the Nordic country’s wealth is built on oil, and exploration is moving further north. Can it find a middle ground?

The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, which lies halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, has seen profound changes in recent decades.

Wintertime temperatures have risen by more than 10°C over the last 30 years. The ocean is almost 2°C warmer than 40 years ago, and its residents see springtime two weeks earlier than before. They are also seeing a greater likelihood of avalanches due to increased rain in winter, said Professor Kim Holmén, international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Residents of Longyearbyen, the Svalbard town where he lives, now feel insecure at home. The change in sentiment is a “very difficult thing to measure but is very obvious”, he said at a seminar on 7 October in Singapore to promote knowledge of the Arctic environment, resources and technologies.

Yet, Holmén believes that environmental and growing business interests in the region need not be pitched against each other.

As temperatures rise and sea ice melts in the Arctic, more businesses are eyeing its potential for aquaculture, oil and gas, minerals, tourism and shipping.

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Eco Business, 15 Oct 2019: The melting Arctic is fertile ground for businesses. But continued oil exploration poses an ethical dilemma