Importance of Natural Resources

Toward a Sustainable Arctic Future – A Message From U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry


[Fulbright opening music] Hello everyone, and greetings to all of you. As chair of the Arctic Council, the United
States has a very simple goal: to enable future generations to live and prosper in the Arctic
forever. But today, I think you all know that that hope is in jeopardy. And the reason is
very straightforward: climate change. So I wanted to take a moment just to emphasize
the importance of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative and of the research that all of you are doing
and the efforts you are making to mitigate the impacts of climate change on that unique
region. The good news is that governments across the
globe are finally starting to get what scientists have been telling people for a long time:
climate change is an urgent and an imminent danger. The evidence is there for all to see:
record temperatures, more frequent storms, increased famine and drought. Just last summer, President Obama and I travelled
to Alaska, and the President went up into the Arctic in order to try to make clear our
determination to try to do our part but also to show people what is already happening,
in terms of permafrost thaw and other graphic impacts on the region’s species as well
as people. But what we know is, is this change is happening all around us. But especially
happening in the Arctic: a region that is warming twice as fast as any other; a place
where glaciers are shrinking at three times the rate of the last century; where whole
communities are endangered by rising seas; and where permafrost, as I mentioned a moment
ago, is thawing and that causes a very harmful release of methane into the atmosphere. And
as all of you know, methane is twenty times more damaging than CO2. Well, in Paris, last December, we made a step
forward. More than 190 nations came together with 186 individual plans of action, and they
pledged to do their best to prevent the worst consequences of climate change and to try
to move in the direction of a cleaner energy future. But all of us know that when it comes
to the emission of greenhouse gases, there just isn’t any simple on or off switch.
We’re all going to have to do everything possible to reverse the long-term trend. And
we all know we’re really behind the curve. We’re not starting from where we ought to
be. So we have to focus on immediate steps to increase resilience and limit social, economic,
and ecological costs. That is where all of you come in. Obviously, you simply wouldn’t be Fulbright
Arctic Initiative Scholars if you weren’t already dedicated to solving problems and
if you didn’t have the requisite knowledge and the skills to try to make the difference.
So I urge you to think creatively about what more we can do to help local communities adjust
to the changes that we can’t stop and to identify areas of damage that we still have
time to prevent and lay out an action agenda that all of us in public life have a responsibility
to respond to. That will require hard work, the ability to reach across the boundaries
of one scientific discipline to collaborate with others. And it will require attention
to all four research areas: water, energy, health, and infrastructure. It’s a big job,
but I am absolutely confident that you have everything that is needed to make it successful.
So my profound thanks to the Fulbright Center in Finland and the University of Oulu for
hosting this symposium. And my thanks especially to all of you for taking the time to participate
and for the good work that you are about to do. My best wishes to everybody.


Reader Comments

  1. It's a shame they had a politician do this report. It would have been more believable if a scientist or someone smart had done this report….

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