The Arctic in World Environmental History

By Greenberg, Jonathan D. | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, October 2009 | Go to article overview

The Arctic in World Environmental History


Greenberg, Jonathan D., Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


ABSTRACT

This Article situates the Arctic in global environmental history across the long duration of time.

For millions of years, the Arctic has been the world's most important "barometer of global change and amplifier of global warming." (1) For twenty thousand years, the Arctic has been the homeland of modern human settlement, and it has played a central role in the interplay between global climate change and human migration throughout Eurasia and the Americas. Since the late fifteenth century, Arctic aboriginal peoples, lands, and seas have been thoroughly integrated into the international history of European trade, capitalism, and colonization; the territorial expansion of modern nation states; and the transnational strategic history since the outset of the Cold War, including the continued basing of nuclear-armed missiles, bombers, and submarines throughout the Arctic region.

Appreciation of this international history can provide lessons for contemporary policymakers to help mitigate grave risks to human life and biodiversity in the Arctic and subArctic. For example, this Article calls for negotiations between the U.S., NATO, and the Russian Federation on the basis of Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev's 1987 proposal to transform the Arctic into "a zone of peace" and, specifically, to establish "a nuclear free-zone in northern Europe." (2)

In conclusion, this Article identifies how deeply embedded global systems of political economy and international relations continue to shape recent developments in the Arctic at this time of exacerbated climate change and resulting ecological crisis.

Appreciation of the Arctic's environmental history can help decision-makers to more knowledgeably and effectively support indigenous self-determination, resource conservation, and environmental stewardship throughout the circumpolar bioregion.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I.  INTRODUCTION
      A.  Nunavut and Ultima Thule
      B.  Political Ecology and the Longue Duree

 II.  DEEP TIME ECHOES
      A.  70 Million Years Ago
      B.  55 Million Years Ago
      C.  From Pleistocene to Holocene (our own era)

III.  MOTHERLAND AND BRIDGE
      A.  Original Siberian Settlers
      B.  Across to Berengia and Beyond

 IV.  ABORIGINAL PEOPLES AND NATIONS
      A.  Sovereignty and Territoriality
      B.  Sustainable Resource Use
          1. Reindeer/Caribou Peoples
          2. Sea Mammal Peoples

  V.  TERRA NULLIUS

      A.  Consult Any Atlas
      B.  The Global Fur Trade
      C.  The International Whaling Industry

 VI.  SETTLER COLONIALISM
      A.  Mineral Development
      B.  Indigenous Cultural Eradication and
      Resilience
      C.  Demographic Data

 VII. ULTIMA THULE
      A.  The 1941 Greenland Treaty
      B.  The Last Kings of Thule
      C.  Nuclear Trajectories
      D.  A Private Sea
      E.  A Nuclear-Free Arctic?

VIII. ARCTIC HISTORY ACROSS THE LONGUE DUREE
      A.  To the Mid-Twentieth Century
      B.  The Past Sixty Years

One of the oldest dreams of mankind is to find a dignity that might include all living things.

Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape. (3)

I. INTRODUCTION

Now we know that the ice caps are melting, effectively changing the polar environment forever. Asked to close our eyes and imagine the Arctic as it appeared in years past, polar bears may come to our minds. Yet now we imagine a single bear wobbling upon a patch of broken-off sea-ice, a searing image cycled through the internet into the world's consciousness as a metaphor for the Arctic's fate in our new and rapidly warming millennium. We worry about the extinction of polar species and the fate of vulnerable coastal populations (in the Ganges delta of Bangladesh, for example), whose lands and lives would be destroyed if Greenland ice sheets melt into the Arctic Sea. Indeed we are right to worry and take whatever collective action we can as families, societies, organizations, and governments. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Arctic in World Environmental History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.