Breaking Ice

Snowy-ventures!
by Megan Hayes -- October 3rd, 2014

For most, the Arctic regions are far off places of which adventurers dream and are replicated by Christmas miniatures and holiday décor. What many don’t immediately realize, however, is the arctic is home to unique cultures and peoples, special ecosystem types, promising future markets, and challenging International disputes and opportunities for cooperation.

For those like me who are captivated by the arctic, an opportunity to visit, no matter how short a trip, simply could not be missed. Last week, I was granted the opportunity to attend the University of Tromso’s K.J. Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea conference on legal issues associated with the development and use of energy resources in the Arctic, with support of the Mellon Foundation

Two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle, I was surrounded by academics, business interests, lawyers and nonprofit entrepreneurs – all experts in the field of arctic issues. I was having the happiest nerd-moment of my life.

Tromso, Norway

Of the many places in the world to study and focus my environmentalist passions, I chose this land — remote in location, unforgiving in nature and uninviting to visitors. With a longstanding interest in marine policy issues one might think it would be more favorable for me to study climate impacts on coral reefs or beautiful lengthy beaches, so at least I could get an enjoyable vacation and possibly a tan out of my data collection and research…

But I’ve gone against the trend,  focusing on something that most climate change enthusiasts would consider a lost cause. With its subtle complexities, rich history and unique challenges, the Arctic, long standing as the canary in the coal mine for climate change impacts, has captured my interests and captivated my academic career. (For a more in-depth introduction to the complexities of the arctic, go here)

Though the presentations were not all that the Centre for the Law of the Sea conference had to offer, the intellectual conversations that arose over a coffee or a beer outside of the presentations were opportunities to challenge ideas, contextualize them, and propose new ones. These likeminded folk were equally passionate and dared me to broaden my perspectives.

The flight was long; my stay was short. But thankfully I intend to travel again for more chilly adventures. Here are some photos from the trip!

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