Arctic Yearbook 2012
Finger-Stich and Finger
including the then powerful peace and anti-nuclear movements, are no longer an influential force
powerful enough to demand demilitarization, even when some political opportunities seem to open
Other problems raised in the late 1980s in the discourse of Gorbachev have not been solved either.
Even though there has been important progress in decreasing some emissions at the source, as in the
case of acidification, decommissioning some nuclear facilities and armaments, and doubling the
coverage of protected areas (Livingston, 2011), heavy metals and Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPs) are still found in increasing concentrations in Arctic ecosystems, and global warming is
accelerating at an unprecedented rate and with it is biodiversity loss (McKie, 2012).
The Arctic thus becomes the symbol of a global dilemma, in which everyone is faced with the
responsibility to decide if and how to engage and become an actor of resistance and change for
setting limits and taking an alternative course to the one taken by the actual economic growth-
dependent, extractive and consumption-driven modern global society. Both the Arctic and the
Antarctic warn us of limits not to cross. For the future we propose to retain the learning from the
three phases outlined in this article – namely (1) the Arctic at the top of world peace and
environmental protection; (2) the Arctic as an inhabited region, with its own bio-cultural-diversity
and sustainable development interests; and (3) the Arctic as center of world attention on climate and
peak oil induced changes, but to leave the downsides of each of the different phases. To recall, these
are: (1) the neo-colonial approach to environmental protection which does not integrate the cultural
aspects and need to respect indigenous peoples self-determination; (2) the mainstreaming of
environmental concerns into governmental and corporate institutions; and (3) the highjacking of
climate change by combined TNC, SOE and nation-states resource security interests.
Actually, the 2012 summer meltdown appears to be even more severe than the one observed in
2007, according to the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 (Center for Polar Observation and
Modeling, University College London).
The sociologists Michel Crozier and Erhard Friedberg (1977) worked on social systems and
power relations at the level of organizations. They showed that agents, when developing their
strategies, always seek to increase their margin of freedom, which can, at times, be in
contradiction with the collective interest of an organization.