Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 87

87 Arctic Yearbook 2015 recommendations. Reduction of short-lived climate forcers, such as black carbon and methane, would have multiple benefits for human health, agriculture and ecosystems to aid in reducing the potential for crop failure, early death, and planetary warming. Observation of pollutants in the Arctic has long been recorded, and the sheer plentitude of documentation originating from the Arctic Council alone attest to the challenges that lay ahead. This article considers the narratives, policies and actions taken to address the well-known evidence of Arctic pollution, specifically black carbon, also known as soot. To what extent is the U.S. able to exert influence beyond national borders in the implementation of short-lived climate forcer reductions? What actions has the U.S. taken at home? For it is by example that the U.S. can best engage other nations to develop measures and implement existing policy to mitigate the effects of climate change. Pollutants: Documentation & a slow road to action The appearance of possible pollutants in the Arctic first occurred in the late 1880s with the observation of ‘dark stains’ on Arctic snow and ice by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen. From the 1940s to the 1960s U.S. weather reconnaissance flight crews reported observations of “dense haze that extended for thousands of miles” over the Arctic (Soros 1992: 8). However, it was not until 1987 when President Mikhail Gorbachev appealed to the international community in Murmansk, Russia calling for demilitarization of the Arctic region that the stage was set for multilateral engagement on environmental protection. A significant outcome of his now famous speech was the formation of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) in 1991 (Heininen 2011), which represented a “collective, circumpolar approach toward environmental issues,” (Canadian Arctic Resources Committee 1993-94). In the United States, pressing concern about the environmental legacy of nuclear arms led to the 1992 U.S. Senate Hearing Select Committee on Intelligence, Radioactive and Other Environmental Threats to the United States and the Arctic resulting from past Soviet activities. The proceedings, which took place in Alaska, made public the extent to which Soviet radioactive contaminants from nuclear reactors, accidents and “reckless nuclear waste disposal” had permeated the Arctic region, &V6