Which Canary in the Coalmine? The Arctic in the International Climate Change Regime

Which Canary in the Coalmine? The Arctic in the International Climate Change Regime The Yearbook of Polar Law IV (2012): 583­617 Sébastien Duyck* 1.Introduction Thanks to the wild and inspiring beauty of its pristine landscapes, to the presence of charismatic mega-fauna, and to its particular sensitivity to climate variations, the Arctic has become a key reference in the climate discourse. Images of polar bears and the cracking of sea ice illustrate a large number of publications and presentations dedicated to climate change. The vulnerability of the region to climate impacts is enhanced by the fact that local temperatures increase almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet.1 Furthermore, in the High North, this warming is materialized by dramatic physical changes reshaping landscapes and profoundly afffecting human activities. While the increase of temperatures can be much more pernicious and diffficult to experience in other regions, the thawing of permafrost and retreating sea ice are, indeed, phenomena that individuals can more easily comprehend. In this context, the Arctic has often been described as the climate crisis' "canary in the coal mine".2 Additionally, a rise in the average temperature of the region will also have global repercussions ­ for instance, the Arctic being one of the main contributors to rising sea-levels as http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Yearbook of Polar Law Online Brill

Which Canary in the Coalmine? The Arctic in the International Climate Change Regime

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1876-8814
eISSN
2211-6427
D.O.I.
10.1163/22116427-91000105
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The Yearbook of Polar Law IV (2012): 583­617 Sébastien Duyck* 1.Introduction Thanks to the wild and inspiring beauty of its pristine landscapes, to the presence of charismatic mega-fauna, and to its particular sensitivity to climate variations, the Arctic has become a key reference in the climate discourse. Images of polar bears and the cracking of sea ice illustrate a large number of publications and presentations dedicated to climate change. The vulnerability of the region to climate impacts is enhanced by the fact that local temperatures increase almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet.1 Furthermore, in the High North, this warming is materialized by dramatic physical changes reshaping landscapes and profoundly afffecting human activities. While the increase of temperatures can be much more pernicious and diffficult to experience in other regions, the thawing of permafrost and retreating sea ice are, indeed, phenomena that individuals can more easily comprehend. In this context, the Arctic has often been described as the climate crisis' "canary in the coal mine".2 Additionally, a rise in the average temperature of the region will also have global repercussions ­ for instance, the Arctic being one of the main contributors to rising sea-levels as

Journal

The Yearbook of Polar Law OnlineBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2012

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