Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Arctic is melting rapidly. Ice and glaciers are at record low levels in the North Pole.

The Arctic is melting rapidly. Ice and glaciers are at record low levels in the North Pole. (Photo: NASA Flickr)

Pompeo Cheers 'Opportunity' in Arctic From Climate Change as America Blocks Resolution Language

"The latest data shows that after a month of record temperatures in the Bering Sea, ocean ice in the Arctic is at an all-time record low for the date, crushing the record set … last April."

Eoin Higgins

Rather than saving the Arctic from climate change, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the melting polar region should be seen as an opening for the northern hemisphere. 

Pompeo's comments came during a speech to a meeting of the Arctic Council, a group of seven countries—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the U.S.—with interests and claims in the region. 

"Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade," said Pompeo. "This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days."

Reporting in The Washington Post said that Arctic Council members were "stunned" by Pompeo's remarks and the U.S. position, especially coming on the same day as a U.N. report warning of the extinction of 1 million species due to human activity and within months of a NOAA report showing that 95 percent of the region's thickest ice is gone. 

The council member countries had hoped to pass a resolution calling for addressing climate change—but the U.S. killed the statement's references to the phrase.

Per the Post's PowerPost:

Pompeo suggested the Arctic Council look beyond "environmental research into events that may or may not occur in 100 years," his closest reference to the phrase "climate change."

In remarks justifying continued exploitation in the region, Pompeo extolled the virtues of potential exploitation of Arctic natural resources, listing off the untouched natural treasures that climate change is making more easily accessible to humans.

"The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance," said Pompeo. "It houses 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore."

Earlier in the speech, as Common Dreams reported Monday, Pompeo took aim at Russia and China, attacking the two American adversaries for perceived "lawlessness."

The convenience for shipping and trade that Pompeo celebrated, as environmental advocates have pointed out, is because of a bleak climate reality. 

The Arctic is melting rapidly. Ice and glaciers are at record low levels in the North Pole, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. 

Activist Bill McKibben, in April, expressed his concern for the polar region in a piece for Common Dreams

"To invent a word, the north is rapidly slushifying, with more rainfall and fewer days of hard freeze," wrote McKibben. "The latest data shows that after a month of record temperatures in the Bering Sea, ocean ice in the Arctic is at an all-time record low for the date, crushing the record set … last April."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Sanders Demands End to Medicare Premium Hike From Alzheimer's Drug

Biogen's original price for the controversial drug, he argues, "is the perfect example of why Medicare should be negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Monumental Victory' as Biden Cancels Boundary Waters Mining Leases

Rep. Betty McCollum called the administration's decision "a rejection of the deeply flawed and politically motivated process under the Trump administration."

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Groups Demand Hearings on the 'Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act'

"The longer Congress waits," warned one advocate, "the stronger and more dangerous this industry will become."

Kenny Stancil ·


Democrats Urge Biden to Abandon Dangerous Trump Policies on Nuclear Weapons

With the Nuclear Posture Review, say congressional lawmakers, the president can ensure "future generations can finally be free from the nuclear sword of Damocles that hangs over all our heads."

Andrea Germanos ·


'There Is No Military Solution': Jayapal, Lee Demand Diplomacy on Ukraine

"We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis," said the progressive Democrats.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo