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Environmental Science


“To wear the arctic fox, you have to kill it.”

-Marianne Moore

The following paper gives insight regarding Arctic Circles along with a few underlying environmental and ethical considerations. Evidently, five major circles of most northerly latitude make one big circle that is commonly known as Arctic Circle. The northern territory of this circle is widely known as the Arctic; on the other hand, the southern zone is named as Northern Temperature zone. In the following a brief description of some important features, habit and habitats and climate of Arctic Circle is given:

  • Climate: The climate conditions of Arctic Circle are cold however Norway’s coastal region features a semi-mild climate because of Gulf Stream. The very stream keeps the iced effect away from Norway’s northern ports and Northwest Russia throughout the year. Within interior regions summers are warmers, and in winters it becomes exceptionally chilled. In summers it could be 30o C, and in winters it reaches to about -50o C which is exacerbated cold.
  • Population: Because of the severity of climate conditions the people of the region is not as such flourished. At the time only 4 million inhabitants are living within the premises of northern Arctic Circle. On the contrary, several areas of the circle were resided by indigenous populace about thousands of years ago, and these natives formulate the ten percent of overall Arctic Circle’s population.
  • Countries: Arctic Circle is an extensive region which is further sectioned through eight prominent nations. These countries include Sweden, Denmark (Greenland), Alaska, Norway, Russia, Finland, Canadians northwest regions along with Yukon and Nunavut and Iceland.
  • Wildlife: The wildlife of Arctic Circle is exceedingly flourished and features a wide range of animals, birds and aquatic creatures. Arctic wolf, the bald eagle, spotted seal, walrus, salmon, Greenland shark, sheep, puffins; Arctic woolly bear moth, snow goose, snowy owl, arctic fox, Arctic skua and ringed seals are the most famous among all.

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Resource extraction is a practice which can be defined as an activity through which resources from natures are withdrawn. Resources extraction is a subject to have various range and scope and could be based on traditional usage, international industries, and preindustrial communities. Such activities are primary factors which play an imperative role in the development of economy along with agricultural activities. Some basic instances of resource extractions are forestry, mining, trapping, and hunting, drilling for the acquisition of oil and gas or other petroleum products. All these excavations are vital to establishing a strong structure of country’s wealth. Even so, regardless of all interrelated benefits; resources extractions can disturb the social system through inflation and by affecting the performance of other industries. Such situations then further developed in disparity and underdevelopment and can lead to corruption. Moreover, practices like resources extractions can impact the social justice for native people and can damage the environmental and ethical balance.

Arctic Circle is rich in oil resources and wildlife resources and therefore is a hot cake for the industrialists and other economic analyzers. In 2016, Foreign minister of Russia praised the perception of “pragmatism” and welcomed Rex Tillerson as the nominee for the position of the United States secretary of state. Evidently, Tillerson catered a close relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and according to them, it would be beneficial to have ExxonMobil’s CEO (Tilerson) as secretary as it would augment the exploration procedural with Russian Energy Company. Apparently, the sensitive political and environmental equilibriums made the Arctic Circle a bone of contention throughout the planet. The resources extractions are a delicate issue in the region and are an explicit threat to the conventional values and lifestyles of people rights specifically of indigenous people of Arctic Circle.

Arctic Circle is comprised of several parties which include local and central government, councils of native people as well as Arctic Council. And therefore the decisions regarding any substantial activity within Arctic Circle require an elongated chain of complicated tasks and approvals etcetera. Because of diverse hierarchy and levels of stakeholders, the regional system of Arctic Circles becomes less effective and less efficient. In the due race of power indigenous people seldom get chances to raise their voice on any issue and the authority of non-indigenous stakeholders always creates a socially unjust system.

There is an immense need to be altered the political system throughout the Arctic Circle because it permits a very meager political consideration to the indigenous people and highly supports the other states with interest. In turn, the absence of a substantial basis of enforced rights has been extremely disadvantageous to the native population. According to the regulations of UNDRIP indigenous populace are entitled of a few fundamental rights which include a discrimination-free environment, self-determination and a sense of autonomy, influence over different regional and state-based decisions and utilization of traditional resources and lands. Besides, they are entitled to fair rectification, reduction of adverse environmental effects and etcetera. However, arctic communities demonstrated apparent failure to carry out these rule and regulations and left indigenous people with minimum or no rights.

The most common matter which causes squabbles on a frequent basis is the desire and intention of indigenous people to conserve the environment and to devise the strategies for the betterment of sustainability process. Native people say Arctic Circle is their home on the other hand industrial block of the region continuously asserts the significance of developing an environment to make augmented profits through extraction and trade of the natural resources. Sometimes the arguments get flamed up and cause conflict among both parties. Take the instance of ICC petition which was submitted to the Court of Human Rights and through the petition it was requested to show concern over the changing climatic situation and the higher levels of pollution in the United States. According to the content of plea, it was declared the environmental damages are breaching the right to practice traditional and cultural activities because traditions of the region are strictly incorporated with the natural ambiance of the circle. Regardless of the precise and robust proposition, the petition dismissed as a conclusion.

When it comes to the matter of economic benefits which are inextricably connected with environmental factors and natural resources, it reminds the law of John Rawls’s principle of justice. The principle criticizes the social class of individuals to accept their status as least advantaged class and in due course become entitled although undeservedly for the advantages regulated by Difference Principle. The same case is applied to the cost-benefit analysis of environmental factors and economic gains in Arctic Circle. An assessment which was held for evaluating the oil and gas resources of offshore Arctic Circle, the research was conducted by the United States energy information administration in December 2011. It is stated that risks are associated with economic factors and the peril of environmental harshness and territorial clashes are substantial, but regardless of all other factors, the potential incentive is enormous. The mentioned statement depicts the ecological factors and damages, as well as traditional and indigenous conflicts with other stakeholders are inevitable, but industrialists would gain an attractive deal of wealth through this implication of resources extractions.

The possible cost of taking the initiative for drilling for extraction of oil and gas demonstrates concerns which are raised by different stakeholders and environmental and governmental agencies. Such perils include terrible ecological hazards such as oil spilling accident through the sensitive ecosystem of Arctic Circle. And the primary question is about the adequate equipment and other necessary preparation along with other imperative preventive measures. The involved parties and other interrelated public authorities are silent on these questions and are showing no severe concern over the issue. In short, it can be summarized that the exact intangible cost of the extraction process would be a violation of fragile ecosystem and a sheer danger to the purity and cleanness of icy waters of an Arctic Circle which may be subsequently turned into the oily fluid which in turn will become hazardous for the survival of wildlife. On the other hand, it is estimated that the subject drilling for oil and gas from the Beaufort seas has potential to earn about ninety-seven billion dollars within a projected period of fifty years.

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According to a rough calculation it is portrayed that the drill will extract about 5.1 billion oil barrels which can be produced from 2019-2045. Similarly, from 2029 to 2057 it is expected to obtain nearly seven trillion cubic feet gas form the Chukchi Sea. The overall extraction will generate ninety-six billion dollars and more than twenty-four thousands employment opportunities for local people. By every added year the billions are subject to keep increasing, and from an economic point of view it is a considerable amount, but from an environmental perspective, it is bogus and could harm the overall atmosphere, climate, habits, and inhabitants as well as wildlife to an unimaginable extent.

However, the higher authorities and industrialists believe in the concept of utilitarianism in such cases. According to this concept, industrialists affirm that resource extractions procedural will outcome in significant productivity and job-generating experience what will be advantageous a large fragment of the society and therefore all interconnected harms are irrelevant. Nevertheless, the extraction is harmful to the local atmosphere and regional climate and inhabitants. Through the exposition of resources extraction issue, it is definite that indigenous people’s rights are adversely violated in Arctic Circle and are encountering a perpetual state of fluctuation. Native people are hugely dependant on other non-native stakeholders and interested groups.

The overall environmental downfalls which caused by drilling in Arctic Circles affected the climate of the region significantly. The climate change works faster and in the more exacerbated manner in the Arctic Circle as compared to other territories of the planet. Recently, it is reported that Arctic Circle is confronting a warming phenomenon which is as twice as the global average. Temperature operates differently in the subject region, and for this reason, the slightest increase of about 2-degree centigrade have potential to make a significant difference. Apparently, even a little elevation in temperature causes to impact the freezing point of the region and consequently modifies the overall nature and attribute of Arctic. This process then becomes the source to melt the ice, and the reflection of heat accelerates the process of global warming.

Global warming and ice are melting incidents, in turn; affect the wildlife of Arctic Circle. The protection of the region is imperative to save the polar bears. Arctic region is not like Antarctic region, and polar bears are a significant symbol of its heritage. Polar bears need a specific habitat for their dens and seasonal feeding and birth giving purposes. And rapidly melting ice and swiftly accelerating global warming is a concrete threat to their existence. However, different environmental organizations and WWF are seeking preventive measures to mitigate the adverse impact of different industrial activities, but solutions are slower than problems. Likewise, salmon is an inhabitant of northern Atlantic and just like polar bears facing an ultimate risk of endangering. Evidently, a considerable stock of salmon has eradicated from the east coasts of the United States, but Russia, Iceland, and Norway carry reasonable stock. Experts agreed that the increase in temperature could sprinkle more tension and stress to the already existing problematic issue of pollution as well as the development of HEP, parasites, and lice of salmons and escape of salmon from farmed areas. The warmer temperature in Arctic Circle devastatingly affects the expansion and survival of Salmon.

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Along with polar bears and salmon, the vegetation of Arctic Circle is also confronting risks by environmental changes and industrial practices. Polar deserts are the main vegetation areas of Arctic which is located in the northern boreal forest in the south. This territory has a broad horizon of tundra as well. The subject climate change which is taking place due to ineffective industrial implication shrinking the northwards vegetative expansions and pushing them into the arctic tundra meanwhile tundra expanding into polar deserts. Such immense changes take centuries to cast an impact but because of industrial practices tundra is becoming smaller and smaller day by day. In turn, several birds and grazing animals are encountering a lack of their breeding and living places. Moreover, the industrial revolution in the region of Arctic Circle brings a boosted infusion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is making the oceans thirty percent more acidic. And the temperature works twice in same arctic physics applied to the cold waters of the Arctic sea which absorb acids as double as average. The acidic water of oceans is impeding the development and survival of coral reefs as well as the other sea creatures like shells and oysters, plankton and snails etcetera.

Climate change that caused by industrial evolution and all drilling for oil and gas extractions is not a local problem it is an international issue and will influence all the globe it is a matter of time. The climatic feedbacks from Arctic Circle is augmenting international sea level which in turn affects the precipitation patterns and global climatic conditions. This change will not stop here and will pose significant implications to several next generations. The climate change is going beyond the Arctic region and altering weather patterns all around the world. Now it is not merely all about the seals or polar bears instead it becomes an issue all species living on the earth because all of them are dependent on ice. And in coming decades new generation has to pay the price of ineffective implementation of the industrial revolution by their health and wealth.

Throughout the environmental and industrial discussion, it is crucial to highlight Arctic Power ANWR. It is a non-profit organization for citizens and founded in the year 1992 and explores the presidential and congressional endorsement for the exploration possibilities of oil and gas extraction. ANWR also addresses the discovery of production process within the premises of Plain coast of Arctic national wildlife refuge. There are two major groups of native people in the Arctic Circle one is Inuit and second is Gwich’in. Evidently Inuit supports the existence and purpose of ANWR on the contrary Gwich’in is strictly opposed to it. Inuit people who live in North Slope assert that they highly appreciate the association of ANWR. According to them, they have observed the industrial petroleum operation for nearly 30 years because populace of about 6,500 is inhabited near arctic slope and watch the entire process by themselves.

They believed that if industrialists and companies find the traces of oil in coastal plains of ANWR, they will develop it carefully and will take care of environmental aspects as well. On the other side, Gwich’in features a population of seven thousand people. Their people are dispersed throughout the migration route of caribou which lies between Canadian Yukon and northeastern Alaska. Gwich’in loudly opposed the drilling in the ANWR because they are scared about the consequences. They contemplate that such step will threat their presence as well as the survival hunters of caribou. Inupiat wanted to carry on with the drilling project because they need money to sustain their luxuries and comforts. Likewise, the Chukchi Sea Lease Sale of 2008 is imperative in the regard of environmental and populace threats and economic gaining debate. The sale took place after considerate and thoughtful analyzes and evaluation interior department issued a record of decision. Under this record of Decisions department sealed the Chukchi Sea OCS oil and Gas Lease Sale 193, and subsequently, the further lease was released in the year 2008.

Image result for arctic people photography

By analyzing the implications mentioned above and devastating effects of industrial revolution, it becomes evident that saving the Arctic Circle is the most crucial factor at the moment. No matter what a cost and benefit analyze shows and no matter of temporary wealth and job gaining opportunities this industrialists activities will make the humans and other living things to a pay a hefty price in coming centuries. Climatic change which is rapidly enwrapping Arctic Circle is not limited to the region only. Instead, it will cast its affects all around the planet and for a prolonged period. Polar bears, Salmon, Oysters, Coral reef, shells and vegetation, birds and grazing animals and indigenous people are not the only victim of this change. The global warming features adverse effects for everyone, but no one comprehends the real function of arctic ice. Everyone has to play their part to save the Arctic Circle. Otherwise, it will ruin the balance of nature and apocalypse will be inevitable. Moreover one can estimate the costs and benefits of Arctic’s from an economic standpoint, but no one can approximate the ultimate price of spilling of oil which ruins the delicate and sensitive environment of Arctic Circle. The entire deal of industrialization is sufficient enough to bring catastrophe to the region and sea that could cost numerous lives and the natural equilibrium will lose its timeless balance eternally. The future and consequences are foreseeable, and therefore it is a requirement of global wisdom to implement preventive measures before it becomes too late.

Works Cited


“Arctic Offshore Drilling.” Ethics Unwrapped, 2018 Ethics Unwrapped– McCombs School of

Chukchi Sea Industry Data Now Available to the Public.” ARCUS, National Science
Foundation under Cooperative Agreement, 27 May 2017,

Climate Impacts on Coastal Areas.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 6 Oct. 2016,

Department of the Interior Affirms 2008 Chukchi Sea Lease Sale.” U.S. Department of the
Interior, 26 Apr. 2016,

James Liszka. “Arctic.” GREENR Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural
Resources, Macmillan Reference USA, a Part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2009, d=GRNR&userGroupName=olr_greenr&docId=CX3234100030.

Krupnick, Alan J. “Drilling for Oil in the Arctic: Considering Economic and Social Costs and
” Resources for the Future, Resource for the Future. All Rights Reserved, 2 June

Polar Habitats.” TheSchoolRun, TheSchoolRun 2018,

Toi, et al. “Russian FM Hails ‘Pragmatism’ of Incoming US Secretary Tillerson.” The Times of
Israel, Salamandra, 13 Dec. 2016,

“U.S. Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee.” Principles for the Conduct of Research in
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