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The Internationalization of the Circumpolar North: Charting a Course for the 21st Century
by Oran R. Young
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Current Issues
Are there features of the biotic and abiotic systems of the Arctic that require special treatment in the development of environmental and resource regimes?

  Every region has its own distinct features, a fact that means nesting must be handled in a manner that is sensitive to the circumstances prevailing in each region of the world. In the Arctic, these features involve things like high concentrations of birds and animals that make whole populations vulnerable to catastrophic events; slow rates of regeneration for depleted stocks and degraded ecosystems; long residency periods for many types of pollutants, and bioaccumulation and biomagnification that concentrate contaminants such as POPs and heavy metals at the top of the food chain [21]. Clearly, there is a need to bear these features of the region's biophysical systems in mind in devising international regimes dealing with Arctic issues. Stocks of some species of whales depleted a hundred and more years ago by commercial whalers have yet to recover in a number of parts of the Arctic. Stocks of other species (e.g. caribou and sea lions) are subject to fluctuations whose speed and magnitude are great but whose causes are poorly understood. Ecological "cascades" are common under Arctic conditions, so that there can be no assurance that ecosystems will return to their preexisting state following more or less severe disturbances. The implications of these circumstances are clear. Although there is a legitimate role for global regimes, there can be no substitute for a detailed understanding of the dynamics of regional systems in devising effective arrangements to manage human/environment relations in an area like the Arctic. What is more, there is a critical need to make use of all available knowledge, including traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as well as western, scientific knowledge, in devising and administering specific environmental and resource regimes [22].
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The Internationalization of the Circumpolar North: Charting a Course for the 21st Century,
by Oran R. Young.
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