President of Iceland, Ólafur R. Grímsson: The Arctic is the New Political Playing Field

The Arctic was for centuries largely unknown,
a very remote part of the Western world, and it was only 100 years ago that discoverers
starting to go to the North Pole and to these remote areas. And then the Cold War closed
the Arctic in terms of military confrontation and the conflicts between the Soviet Union
on one hand and the Western powers on the other. So, one of the most important things
to remember when we look at the Arctic in the beginning of the 21st-century is that
it is so recently that we as mankind have been able to come together to discuss and
decide what do we do with respect to the Arctic future. There is no part of planet Earth, which has
so recently arrived on our desk as a challenge and as an opportunity. So therefore, the cooperation
in the Arctic is one of the most crucial issues of the 21st-century for many reasons. One
is that this is the front line of climate change. The aggressive melting of the ice
in the Arctic will have consequences all over the world. If only a quarter of the Greenland
ice sheet melts this will lead to two meters rising sea levels everywhere in the world.
And already we are seeing that the present melting of the Arctic sea ice is causing extreme
weather events in the United States, in Asia and in other parts of the world. In addition,
the Arctic is one of the richest parts of the world in terms of untapped natural resources.
And with the continuous melting of the Arctic sea ice there will be new shipping lines linking
Asia to America and Europe in a revolutionary way like the Suez Canal on the Panama Canal
did in it’s time. That is why the Arctic has now become the new economic and political
playing field. In 2015 the United States takes on the chairmanship
of the Arctic Council. It is the first time since the Arctic Council became a treaty making
organization that the U.S. takes on that responsibility. And the chairmanship is not just a formal
role, it is supposed to provide a vision, a policy agenda and a direction towards the
future. So it’s very important that all the people in the United States who are interested
in climate change, who are interested in the environment, realize that in the next two
or three years the U.S. will be in the leadership role with respect to the future of the Arctic,
of course in partnership with other Arctic countries as well as the observer states from
Asia and Europe. Although the Arctic Council is an intergovernmental body, there is a role
for activists, environmentalist, experts, scientist, ordinary people in this process.
And in order to facilitate that, together with many other partners from the Arctic I
established last year what’s called the Arctic Circle, which is a kind of an international
assembly where everybody, whether it’s an individual or citizen or a government or a
corporation or a scientific institute or a university or an activist group, can come
together where everybody has the same role, the same right to speak and discuss. So I would encourage, especially in the two
next two or three years, everybody who is concerned about these issues in the United
States, first of all to look at the Arctic Circle on the website and
see if you want to come to the assembly, if you want to attend the following meetings
that will take place in the United States, in Greenland and Singapore, as well as Iceland
in the next 12 to 18 months, but overall be aware that your own country, the United States
of America, will from 2015 to 2017 be the leader in making policy and agreement and
map out the future for that part of planet earth where climate change is most aggressively
taking place. There was a big great march in New York about climate and hundreds of
thousands of people participated. I’m not sure if many of them realized that in the
early months of next year it will be the U.S. who will chair the international cooperation
on that part of Mother Earth where climate change is most aggressively taking place.

Maurice Vega

40 Responses

  1. The USA would never refer to Earth as 'Mother Earth'. For that reason alone they should not hold any control over the Arctic!

  2. Weird, I'm pretty sure the fact that the US will be chairing the arctic commission is EXACTLY what the protestors realized – hence the protests? Not sure how else these people think we're supposed to get our voice out there and demand policy change.

  3. So USA(not really a country know for being enviornmentally friendly) is going to control the artic…
    Really? Did they run out of enviornmentally friendly countries?…

  4. According to the science 20,000 years ago most of North America was under ice.
    6000 years later most of that had melted and now it's all pretty much gone.
    Maybe all the ice is going to melt everywhere, and the world will become tropical everywhere as it once was, then the ice will return again and will have another Ice Age. Just seems like that's the cycle .

  5. It will be interesting to see if Russia recognizes such an organization and would agree to any directives issued by it, especially with the US chairing it.

  6. I don't like scare tactics surrounding introducing new products.  It would make more sense to educate everyone on the benefits of solar power, solar panels, electric cars and how they help us live a cleaner life.  I am all for a car that can drive with no gas. I would love to participate in solar panels on my home.  However the state of Georgia is fixated on building Nuclear power plants. Georgia Power is a monopoly.  There are no subsidies for folks who want to use solar so it is not cost efficient for the average citizen. I do believe that factories and cars do put out a lot of pollution which may be harmful to the earth and human kind.  While there is talk about the Arctic shrinking, how come no one is explaining why the Antarctic is expanding?  The Antarctic expanding should offset the melting of the Arctic.  In the end, no one really knows the long term effects because there is no recorded documentation.

  7. Antarctica snow or ice, Has set new records for the extreme amounts of snow and Ice totals this year, They don't talk about that, WHY? Because Can't make money on this!

  8. But I'm not a US citizen, why is he talking like all the people watching this channel are?
    The focus wasn't part of the title of the video and it weirded me out.
    Is this the target demographic of this channel? I don't get it

  9. USA controlling the Arctic? gg. Earth is going to flood. Every seen Waterworld? Imagine that but 500 degrees.

  10. Name the last time you saw an acting President of the United States speak about policy off-prompter, casually, and intelligently.

  11. Unfortunately a large part of the southern US has politically become anti-science and until this changes through education not much will change.

  12. Mmmm oil and natural resources, I bet there are a load of people and corporations who are eagerly awaiting the melting of that pesky ice!

  13. i dont know will the us chairing this committee, this body, will it be a good thing? WHO  will be checking IT?  will changes Progress the country and the World or not? Man, this is bigtime stuff….

  14. Climate change is a well researched, proven scientific fact, just like evolution. You can question it, but that does not make it less true, it might only make you seem more ignorant.

  15. @Rocco Cammarano: Thats is right, man. And that cant be good. Worse when he mentioned about the ship lines and so on, comparing them as the suez canal, or panama canal. Freaks me out…

  16. Then the U.S. will have a huge interest in giving the Arctic to us Canadians. I liked it better when it was hands off. Keep it neutral like Antarctica.

  17. Obama needs to start putting his boot on peoples' throats about climate change. He needs to become Heisenberg. He needs to become the danger. He needs to drag them through the mud over and over and over and put their names out in the public and vehemently criticize them personally, by name, until they finally get it. And if they don't get it, then tell the public why certain people in congress "think" they don't get it. Obama's a pussy. Obama's soft. He's a bad president because he keeps giving into Republicans with climate change. He needs to redeem himself or nobody's going to give a shit about him when he's out. 

  18. The U.S won't give a shit about the arctic if it doesn't help them gain money, maybe if it had oil? Politics. We know fracking can cause high damage to the environment. Maybe removing oil can cause earthquake, cuz it lubricate the plate tectonic to rotate smoothly. but we can stop fracking but won't stop a trillion dollar oil industry.

  19. As an Icelander, I can only hang my head in shame that this buffoon continues to be our "head of state". Thankfully that is largely a decorative title, so he wields no real power. He's just an embarrassment.

  20. "USA have the artic, and do policy!!!"cry,cry………
    And Russia says, NO, we know better, part of the artic is legitimately ours.
    In other words, Iceland is powerless and insignificant before the heavy weights.

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