The Arctic

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