The Arctic and Its Future

[© C. Grabhorn]

"It is a land of sublime beauty, humbling terror, and natural wonder. If not there, what place in our world will we dedicate to silence and solitude? To look upon or even only consider those vast horizons stretches both the imagination and the soul." --Alvah Simon, North to the Night

The Arctic, with its forbidding climate and rugged beauty, has long been seen as the ultimate wilderness; a place whose very severity has isolated it from the ravages of industrial society. But the world is changing.

And nowhere is the magnitude of that unfolding change more apparent than in the Arctic. Here the cultural, political, economic as well as environmental impacts of global warming are playing out in stark clarity.

As the Arctic warms and melts, access to previously inaccessible resources will become possible, and major new international shipping routes could be opened. Who will benefit, and what do we stand to lose? Buddhism sees our lives as an integral and inseparable part of the natural environment. We all have a role to play in creating the future, and from this viewpoint, the SGI Quarterly considers how we can ensure that a sense of responsibility--to the natural world, the 4 million inhabitants of this unique and fragile region, and to all humanity--guides our actions from now on.