Overview: Global-Arctic Interactions—The Arctic Moves from Periphery to Center

Document Type


Publication Date



Global Climate System, Climate Change, Arctic, Sustainable Development


Unprecedented changes in the global climate system are transforming the planet as we move deeper into the 21st century. Nowhere are the effects of climate change more far-reaching and profound than in the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the global average. Feedback effects expand the existing links between the Arctic and the rest of the global system. Not only are Arctic biophysical responses contributing to the acceleration of climate change globally, but increased accessibility to the Arctic is also driving new efforts to exploit the region’s stores of natural resources—including oil and gas—and making the region a domain of increasing interest from a geopolitical perspective.

The result is what we call the “Arctic Paradox.” Climate change is creating conditions conducive to the extraction and shipment to southern markets of the Arctic’s large reserves of oil and natural gas. But the combustion of hydrocarbons to serve the energy needs of modern industrial societies leads to the emission of greenhouse gases and, as a result, contributes to the acceleration of climate change. Finding ways to come to terms with this paradox must rank as the top priority for all those interested in the future of the Arctic.