« View All Blog Posts

Frozen Treasures Begin to Thaw
By Michael Schweibinz

My last blog offered a synopsis of the 2014 Climate Change report from the United States military. The Pentagon’s Adaptation Roadmap illustrates how climate change will affect the military’s plans, operations, training, testing, infrastructure, and supply chain management.

In prior publications about the U.S. government’s response to climate change, we addressed the following:

  • Rising global temperatures
  • Changing precipitation patterns
  • More extreme or frequent weather events
  • Rising sea levels and associated storm surges

In the “plans and operations” section of the 2014 report, the Department of Defense highlights two other climate change outcomes that are seldom considered: the rapidly-melting Artic exposure of resource-rich areas and the opening of formerly frozen sea-lanes. Shortly, both factors are likely to spark political and economic conflict.

In fact, world superpowers are already competing for control and/or ownership of these previously barren wastelands. By acting immediately, nations like China, United States, and Russia are hoping to control the rights to the Arctic’s abundant supply of oil, gas, and minerals—all of which are becoming increasingly accessible due to the rapid melting of previously frozen sea-lanes.

The Artic region has become a major foreign policy consideration for China. Recently, China’s State Oceanic Administration has been “lobbying intensely for permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, which is a loose-knit international body of eight nations that develops policy for the region. China is arguing that it is a “near Arctic state” and proclaiming that the Arctic is “the inherited wealth of all humankind.

Chinese companies are financing mine development in Greenland, and according to the New York Times, have proposed “building runways for jumbo jets on the ice in Greenland’s far north to fly out minerals until the ice melts enough for shipping.”

 While large shipping and mining corporations may benefit from the melting Artic region, the environment may not. According to a 2012 New York Times article, “scientific forecasts based on computer modeling have long suggested that a time will come when the Arctic will be completely free of ice in the summer, perhaps by the middle of the century.”

This timely topic is an important one, and one that was deemed appropriate for this year’s SRI conference. During her presentation, the Dance of the Blue Planet, Dr. Susan K. Avery, President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, enlightened conference participants on how the oceans are frequently left out of the conversation regarding climate change. Dr. Avery focuses much of her research on how changing ocean currents are impacting melting rates. Read more about Dr. Susan K. Avery, and about the race for Arctic’s thawing treasures here.


At First Affirmative, we understand that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?

Posted: November 28, 2014