Of course it had to happen during his last week in office: President Bush and his administration just issued a long list of directives regarding American military, economic and diplomatic plans for an increasingly accessible Arctic Sea. The document signals a proactive stance on managing the region's natural and strategic resources, but even more interestingly, it shows a tacit acknowledgment of the reality of climate change from a government that spent two terms resisting it.
According to the doc, chief priorities include working to understand "the effects of climate change and increasing human activity in the Arctic region." Climate change is mentioned no less than six times, and the administration places emphasis on understanding the effects of climate change on sensitive ecosystems and vulnerable Arctic communities.
The document spends more time, however, establishing the U.S.'s desire to keep Northwest Passage trade routes open and establish the first Arctic Coast Guard outpost. These assertions have riled our normally passive neighbors to the north: Canada has long maintained sole sovereignty over the Northwest Passage.
It's nice to see this administration confront climate change head-on, even this late in the game, but did we have to pick a fight with our do-gooder little brother Canada? He's kind of a tattler.
(If all this climate-change business leaves you wanting to green up your life, check out BACKPACKER's new environmental news and tips blog, Green Scene).