Media and the Politics of Arctic Climate Change: When the Ice Breaks
The Arctic sea-ice reached record lows in 2007, and again in 2012. In the international news media, these moments were reflected via striking images of polar bears, crumbling icechunks and the use of more alarmist metaphors about global climate change. Through these narratives, and despite the periodic disappearance of climate change from media reports due to issue fatigue, a sharper narrative of climate change has entered public discourse: a new global reality where the future is no longer a given. Going beyond media studies as well as descriptive or highly scientific accounts of the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, this book explores how both historical and contemporary mediations, scientific narratives and satellite technology simultaneously capture and reconstruct this new reality of the Anthropocene, where human activities shape the planet. By highlighting the linkagesbetween science, media, environmental change and geopolitics, the informed contributors to the volume invite the reader to reflect on what is local and what is global in today's connected mediatized world.
In this chapter we want to see what historical narratives can tell us in order to better understand our concerns with the vanishing ice as evidence of a current mega-transition. Was the 2007 minimum unique? When and why did science start to study Arctic sea ice? Have there been periods of an ice-free Arctic Sea in the past? And, if they did occur, how does it impact on interpretations of our present- time discourse on the possible emergence of anice- free Arctic Sea? Climate change may, in retrospect, have appeared an obvious companion idea, but this relationship between ice and climate was rarely put forward as a serious alternative for the immediate future on the human timescale of decades, generations, or even centuries. But when it finally was, comparatively late in the middle of the twentieth century, sea ice was part of the story. We start by visiting the idea of an ice-free Arctic in the past, then moving on to the scientific undertakings on sea -ice in the Soviet Union. Interwar efforts outside the Soviet Union were as only matched by Nordic researchers, with whom we deal with subsequently. Finally we discuss the Cold -War effortsand their military connections. That science is interest-driven is evident throughout the entire period. Sea- ice minima may comprise straightforward facts, but the underlying knowledge is the outcome of a complex science politics of circumpolar ice.