Essay, Research Paper: Arctic

Geography

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The Artic is a region at the upper most tip of the Northern Hemisphere. The
Artic includes the area around Greenland, USSR, Canada and Alaska. Much of the
Artic circle is permanently frozen ice. The Artic is a pristine environment,
clean and void of human interference. However as humans move into these areas
and begin to extract what ever they can be balance can be tipped, resulting in
pollution and destruction of the environment. Climate. The Artic winters much
longer than the Summer. In the winter the sun never rises and in the summer it
never sets. The average temperature for the Artic is zero degrees of less.
Industry and the Artic. There was once a time when the land of the Artic Circle
was considered useless and only hospitable to those native to it. However once
vast quantities of oil and fish had been found there was a rush of interest in
the land. Fishing in the Artic has occurred for thousands of years but in recent
years man has been fishing the Artic; in greater numbers and taking more fish.
Professional fishermen are taking all kinds of fish as well as whales and seals.
In some areas fishermen have become so efficient at their job that quotas have
needed to be put 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 natural habitat as well as the environment
there would be a great cost to maintain the site. Industry that is designed to
process various minerals have waste products that would be most unwelcome in the
Artic. A good example of this is the pollution that has arisen as a result of
the smelting of metals in the Artic. It is for this reason that there is very
little industry in the Artic. However Russia, Canada, Greenland and Iceland have
several small scale manufacturing plants. The largest industry in the Artic is
oil. The rush began in 1968 when a large oil field was discovered, there was a
great deal of protest but the development went ahead. Oil extracted from the
felid makes its way to Port Valdez via a 1300 kilometre pipeline. Although steps
were taken to limit the pipelines affect on the environment it still disrupts
the migration of caribou. In 1989 the unthinkable happened and the super tanker
Exxon Valdez ran aground spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into the
Prince William Sound. The effects of the slick were devastating. Within a week
workers counted 24000 dead sea birds and 1000 sea otters. The effects of the
slick were felt throughout the food chain from photoplankton to bears. The Exxon
company funded the clean up but there was no compensation for the hundreds of
people that lost their job as a result of the slick. Pollution of the Artic A
large threat to the Artic is transboundry pollution and bioaccumulation. These
are both complex subjects but are easily explained. Transboundry pollution is
the pollution of the Artic from other countries. The ocean currents and wind
conditions result in large amounts of pollution being deposited in the Artic. In
winter when the sun is low thick blankets of haze can be seen over the Artic.
Bioaccumulation is the process where pollutants build up in the Artic because
they cannot be broken down due to the extreme cold. Once harsh chemicals find
their way into the food chain they stay there forever, trapped in the animals
and sediments. A result of increased pollutants in the atmosphere is the
occurrence of acid rain. Sulphur and Nitrogen dioxides drift from developed
countries and when they mix with water in the atmosphere they can produce acid
rain as strong as lemon juice. The acid snow melts in summer and spring
producing an acid shock that can kill animals and plants alike. In 1986 the
nuclear reactor in Chernoybl exploded sending a nuclear cloud into the
atmosphere that among other places contaminated plants and animals in the Artic
region. Particularly affected were lichens, lichens are a plant that makes up
the majority of a reindeers' diet. When the reindeers ate the lichens they
became radioactive and many thousands had to be shot. Tourism vs conservation.
In the battle between tourism and conservation, tourism seems to always win.
However in the Artic tourism has so far had little effect (compared to other
human activity) on the environment. The scenery and wild life of the Artic are
seen as so special that people pay thousands of dollars for a small glimpse of
the Artic. It is believed by many that Artic tourism will spread a general
concern for the environment. There is no denying that if tourism is not
controlled people will destroy what they have come to see. Tourism will alway
clash with conservation and it is many peoples opinion that tourism should be
stoped in the Artic altogether, but if there is money to be made someone will be
there to provide the service. Conclusion. Human's have had a great deal of
impact on the Artic environment. Mining, tourism bioaccumulation and
transboundry pollution mean that this land is a great threat. Tourism is the
latest threat with huge potential for damage. The Artic is one of the few
unspoilt wilderness areas in the world and must be conserved.
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