On this most auspicious morning we had the pleasure to attend the esteemed Winter Conference. We mingled quickly before filing in and sitting down and giving our full attention to the speakers. The first was a learned scientist who lectured on the current international politics in the Arctic. With record amounts of ice melting, the Arctic Ocean is looking more like an ocean every day, leading many countries to stake a claim on these potentially lucrative waters, with images of oil and natural gas floating in their eyes. The melting of the Arctic also opens up a possible new trade route, which would greatly speed trade for the Arctic nations. So far negotiations have remained fairly amicable, and the lecturer held this up as an example for international politics elsewhere.
Next, we heard from a Swede who had spent eight years in Australia and Ireland, studying how natives interact with their environment and the government. Australia has had much success employing natives in their forest and environmental services. She believes governments and other people could learn much from native peoples, but they must be treated respectfully and not “mined”. A highlight was hearing her Australian/slight Irish accent. Priceless.