Executive Summary for March 24th

We review the latest Arctic news, including a forecast that we have another warm year in store for the Arctic, the U.S. administration’s plans to abandon efforts to curb climate change and a big environmental conflict in Canada’s Yukon hitting the country’s top court.

Published on March 24, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Arctic Warmth Set to Continue

The unprecedented heat that the Arctic experienced in 2016 is expected to continue this year as the world heads into “truly uncharted territory,” the World Meteorological Organization warned this week.

As the Guardian reports, the past year’s warming was aided in part by the natural climate cycle known as El Niño. While El Niño is now waning, 2017 still looks like it will continue along a trajectory of shrinking sea ice and rising sea levels, due to the greenhouse gases driving climate change.

Scientific research shows that the world hasn’t been this warm for the past 115,000 years, and that Earth hasn’t seen this amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4 million years.

U.S. Prepares to Upend Climate Policies

The United States, meanwhile, will soon see Donald Trump’s administration begin to pull apart Barack Obama’s climate change policies.

As the New York Times reports, some of these changes will require years of procedural wrangling, while others can be accomplished with a stroke of the president’s pen.

It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change. But these policy changes all but assure that the U.S. won’t meet its agreed emissions reduction targets.

Yukon’s Peel Watershed Hits Canada’s Top Court

On Wednesday the Supreme Court of Canada began hearing a case that could determine the fate of the Peel watershed, a massive swath of northeast Yukon.

As the Walrus reports, the question of whether the Peel should be opened to mineral exploration or kept largely pristine has divided the territory for years, and produced a long-running court battle.

The issue has taken on great symbolic status for affected First Nations, as well as for conservationists such as the one interviewed by the Walrus. “You live in suburbia but consider yourself Canadian because of these vast, unspoiled wildernesses,” says Lewis Rifkind, the Yukon Conservation Society’s mining analyst. “The idea that they exist becomes very important.”

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