Polar Shift: The Arctic Sustained

Polar Shift: The Arctic Sustained

By Joseph F. C. DiMento

International Environmental Policy Series Strategies for Sustainable Development Series

Polar Shift addresses how to sustain the Arctic's richness, beauty, and local and global value. It describes programs specifically created to protect this region and presents competing ideas of how it can be improved with specific recommendations

PDF, 166 Pages


May 2022

£19.99, $27.95

EPUB, 166 Pages


May 2022

£19.99, $27.95

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About This Book

Polar Shift addresses how to sustain the Arctic's richness, beauty, and local and global value. Its core describes programs specifically created to protect this region: the great inventory of law, policy, and civil society activity targeting sustainability of the region. It presents the Arctic’s environmental health very broadly understood and competing ideas of how it can be maintained or improved with specific recommendations. This is a book about the Arctic's past and how it was envisioned, about its environment, its people, and their cultures.

Polar Shift describes how the changing of the Arctic matters and to whom. It asks: Is it of serious concern if the Arctic becomes warmer? If its glaciers shrink away and its polar bears are found in zoos only? If cultures and traditions based on cold are changing? Is it acceptable if cultures adapt to a less cold world?

What if it's warming, thawing, melting, and other changes reflect significant global environmental shifts? What if the Arctic's instability affects society as a whole: if it bodes for bad changes: sunken cities throughout the world, cultural practices precluded, traditions and languages lost, species gone extinct, major metropolitan areas so hot as to be unlivable, and massive movements of people from inhospitable regions?

Why does it matter which countries are considered Arctic nations? Countries want to be seen as Arctic for several reasons. They may want access to a boom of extractable resources: oil, gas, and special metals. Some nations have a deep interest in protecting the Arctic, preserving what is pristine, and improving what is threatened. And some want to influence major international transit routes and rules for going through them to save time and money for international trade. Nations also view the region for significant security and military concerns. Who has and should have a decision-making say on these questions is a matter of high global stakes.


“This book guides readers through the great diversity of the ‘region of the century.’ Moving from the realm of the ‘Arctic Five’ to the cultural heritage of indigenous people, from Arctic governance to the latest scientific findings, the author offers a variety of tools to understand what future changes in the North will depend solely on natural forces… and what will depend on us.” —Ilaria Tani, Doctor of Research in International law, University of Milano-Bicocca, Dipartimento di Giurisprudenza (School of Law), Milano, Italy

“Polar Shift is at once an accessible and carefully documented introduction to the rapidly changing Arctic, a compelling argument about the region’s planetary importance, and a thoughtful blueprint for a sustainable future that invites a mutually beneficial and respectful engagement with the world south of 66°33’43” N.” —Richard Matthew, Associate Dean for Research and International Programs, University of California, Irvine, USA

In Polar Shift: The Arctic Sustained, DiMento demonstrates that law has been critical to understanding the deeply contested nature of Arctic sustainability among different actors (governments, indigenous peoples, corporations, etc.) across time and space. This book is an invaluable resource for individuals with a keen interest in Arctic sustainability, early stage Arctic researchers across various disciplines, and decision-makers. It also serves as a crucial reminder to comprehend and promote Arctic sustainability against the broader geopolitical landscape, especially in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. DiMento compellingly affirms that the good future of the North relies on regional practices that integrate sustainability and social justice, as well as the global community deepening their understanding and engaging respectfully with the region.—H-Environment

Author Information

Joseph F. C. DiMento is professor of law and of planning and friend of the Arctic. He writes, teaches, and lectures on international environmental law and society.


International Environmental Policy Series

Strategies for Sustainable Development Series

Table of Contents

News from the Arctic September 2035; Acknowledgments; 1. Introduction: The Region of the Century; 2. The Place: In History and Now; 3. The Environment and How It Is Changing; 4. Rules and Other Influencers; 5. The Arctic Sustained; Index.


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