After lunch, the grind continues. People deal with “Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Arctic” (aka VACCA) See what I mean about acronyms? The SAOs are concerned with the impromtu dance that takes place at these meetings. Most of the hard thought and consideration has already taken place back home, before these guys even show up. What they’re on the lookout for is the unexpected, the unplanned for, the surprise that comes out of left field.

The topic may be contaminants or emergency preparedness. Take this last one. Russia (with the U.S., Norway, Sweden and Canada observing) conducted a controlled oil spill then cleaned it up to a carefully crafted plan. They recorded the results under as controlled circumstances as possible to study whether they could handle an oil spill in Arctic waters. Given the increasing pressure put upon the North as oil prices skyrocket in the south, and everyone scrambles for more stable energy resources, this is heavy stuff. Then the unexpected.

Inuit Circumpolar Conference asks whether the study can be expanded due to increased uranium mining in the north. The “what if” the worst happened and they didn’t know what to do? Backs stiffened. Brows furrow and knit. Jaws tighten. Then the reaction as one country after another, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden tell the assembled that there’s no need for the emergency preparedness study to broaden the mandate to include nuclear accidents or problems with uranium mining pollution. Russia has set up adequate safety regimes, as have other countries. This is an internal situation and they see no reason to bring nuclear radiation into an international forum. Why add this topic to an already broad mandate?

What is really going on is the individual countries, Canada included, really prefer to keep the doors closed when it comes to atomic energy or uranium mining. Okay, oil and gas exploration and development is one thing, but step back when it comes to that other thing.

Very interesting conference.

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