The Arctic


The Arctic Essay, Research Paper

The Artic Introduction. The Artic is a region at the upper most tip of the NorthernHemisphere. The Artic includes the area around Greenland, USSR,Canada and Alaska. Much of the Artic circle is permanently frozenice. The Artic is a pristine environment, clean and void of humaninterference. However as humans move into these areas and beginto extract what ever they can be balance can be tipped, resultingin pollution and destruction of the environment. Climate. The Artic winters much longer than the Summer. In the winter thesun never rises and in the summer it never sets. The averagetemperature for the Artic is zero degrees of less. Industry and the Artic. There was once a time when the land of the Artic Circle wasconsidered useless and only hospitable to those native to it.However once vast quantities of oil and fish had been found therewas a rush of interest in the land. Fishing in the Artic has occurred for thousands of years but inrecent years man has been fishing the Artic; in greater numbersand taking more fish. Professional fishermen are taking all kindsof fish as well as whales and seals. In some areas fishermen havebecome so efficient at their job that quotas have needed to beput on to limit or stop the capture of certain animals. There are many mineral deposits within the Artic Circle.In Russia: nickel, iron ore, apatite, diamonds, gold, tin, coal,mica, and tungsten. In Sweden: iron ore. In Greenland: lead,zinc, molybdenum and cryolite. Spitsbergen: coal. Canada:uranium, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, tungsten and iron ore.The digging out of minerals would inevitably disturb the naturalhabitat as well as the environment there would be a great cost tomaintain the site. Industry that is designed to process variousminerals have waste products that would be most unwelcome in theArtic. A good example of this is the pollution that has arisen asa result of the smelting of metals in the Artic. It is for thisreason that there is very little industry in the Artic. HoweverRussia, Canada, Greenland and Iceland have several small scalemanufacturing plants. The largest industry in the Artic is oil. The rush began in 1968when a large oil field was discovered, there was a great deal ofprotest but the development went ahead. Oil extracted from the felid makes its way to Port Valdez via a1300 kilometre pipeline. Although steps were taken to limit thepipelines affect on the environment it still disrupts themigration of caribou. In 1989 the unthinkable happened and the super tanker ExxonValdez ran aground spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into

the Prince William Sound. The effects of the slick were devastating. Within a week workerscounted 24000 dead sea birds and 1000 sea otters. The effects ofthe slick were felt throughout the food chain from photoplanktonto bears. The Exxon company funded the clean up but there was nocompensation for the hundreds of people that lost their job as aresult of the slick. Pollution of the Artic A large threat to the Artic is transboundry pollution andbioaccumulation. These are both complex subjects but are easilyexplained. Transboundry pollution is the pollution of the Articfrom other countries. The ocean currents and wind conditionsresult in large amounts of pollution being deposited in theArtic. In winter when the sun is low thick blankets of hazecan be seen over the Artic. Bioaccumulation is the process wherepollutants build up in the Artic because they cannot be brokendown due to the extreme cold. Once harsh chemicals find their wayinto the food chain they stay there forever, trapped in theanimals and sediments. A result of increased pollutants in the atmosphere is theoccurrence of acid rain. Sulphur and Nitrogen dioxides drift fromdeveloped countries and when they mix with water in theatmosphere they can produce acid rain as strong as lemon juice.The acid snow melts in summer and spring producing an acidshock that can kill animals and plants alike. In 1986 the nuclear reactor in Chernoybl exploded sending anuclear cloud into the atmosphere that among other placescontaminated plants and animals in the Artic region. Particularlyaffected were lichens, lichens are a plant that makes up themajority of a reindeers’ diet. When the reindeers ate thelichens they became radioactive and many thousands had to beshot. Tourism vs conservation. In the battle between tourism and conservation, tourism seems toalways win. However in the Artic tourism has so far had littleeffect (compared to other human activity) on the environment. Thescenery and wild life of the Artic are seen as so special thatpeople pay thousands of dollars for a small glimpse of the Artic. It is believed by many that Artic tourism will spread a generalconcern for the environment. There is no denying that if tourismis not controlled people will destroy what they have come to see.Tourism will alway clash with conservation and it is many peoplesopinion that tourism should be stoped in the Artic altogether,but if there is money to be made someone will be there to providethe service. Conclusion. Human’s have had a great deal of impact on the Artic environment.Mining, tourism bioaccumulation and transboundry pollution meanthat this land is a great threat. Tourism is the latest threatwith huge potential for damage. The Artic is one of the fewunspoilt wilderness areas in the world and must be conserved.

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