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Don't Just Watch The Arctic Burn: Declare MAPS Now

Don’t Just Watch The Arctic Burn: Declare MAPS Now

Unprecedented heat continues to sear the Arctic, with temperatures last week hovering around 33.8 degrees Celsius. In June, the region already set an all-time high temperature of more than 38 degrees Celsius in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk. 

This is feverishly hot for a human, but considering Verkhoyansk is home to one of the coldest temperatures ever recorded outside Antarctica, the unprecedented heat is cataclysmic. Unseasonably early fires are also blazing across the region with 7,900 square miles already burnt.

Arctic sea ice coverage along Siberia’s coast is at a 41-year low, and the unwavering heat is only hastening its demise. MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, must be declared immediately to protect us all from imminent danger. 

 Verkhoyansk—and the entire Arctic region—are supposed to be keeping us cool. Arctic land and sea ice have been playing this role for millions of years, reflecting the sun’s heat back out into space through the summer, then rebuilding through the sunless winter.

Humanity has never known life without this protection. Now, that is changing—at a speed of 14,000 tons a second. The loss of protective ice cover means air temperatures are much warmer over land. Hotter air dries out vegetation, turning it into kindling for intense and long-burning fires that are difficult to extinguish.

In a vicious feedback loop, the fires add carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which leads to further ice melt—contributing to the destabilization of the entire global climate system. In the month of June alone, Arctic wildfires emitted about 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

The unprecedented heat is not just a surreal experience. Nor is it just a threat to those who have historically had to develop far more cold tolerance than heat tolerance. It is an urgent alarm for us all.  

 Although the region is weakened and vulnerable, exploitative interests (oil and gas, shipping and fishing, deep sea mining) are threatening to transform the Arctic Ocean into yet another hotbed of destructive economic activity. Commercial interests only break up remaining ice and hinder its ability to regrow. MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, prohibits all exploitation of the Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle, creating the largest protected area in history. The all-volunteer international charity Parvati Foundation is leading the creation of MAPS as an immediate and practical plan of action to protect our world.   

 “What happens in the Arctic affects us all,” says Parvati Foundation Founder and CEO, Parvati Devi. “Rising Arctic temperatures, diminishing ice and Arctic fires endanger the health and safety of all life on Earth. MAPS is an urgent and essential act of protection, for which world leaders must take immediate responsibility by signing the MAPS Treaty now.” 

 The MAPS Treaty updates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to protect all ocean waters north of the Arctic Circle. To realize MAPS at the speed required, Parvati Foundation is rolling out GEM: Global Education for MAPS. By harnessing the power of modern media, it awakens interconnection and generates the international momentum of an unstoppable call from citizens and world leaders alike for a healthy world. 

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