Arctic scientist’s dilemma

The World

Moran’s team retrieved the deepest sediment samples ever recovered from the Arctic Ocean. The scientists were ecstatic. But the samples told a sobering story. The scientists found that the earth’s climate was far more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously believed. They also found possible sources of oil and coal which if exploited could accelerate global warming. Moran also knew that oil companies would be interested in her findings. Moran tell it like this: around 50 million years ago the North Pole was hot, you could jump in and swim around. It hadn’t always been that way. It got hotter because of a sudden release of greenhouse gasses, the Big Heat. This Big Heat disrupted the earth’s circulation and caused mass extinction. Moran was shocked by the findings, and the oil and coal is the remnants of all that plant life from the Big Heat. Moran knows her findings could be used to both protect and harm the earth. Today she says the earth is warming five time faster than it was during the Big Heat. Moran also knows she can’t hide her findings. Moran spoke to an oil company once. And oil companies aren’t the only ones interested in such work. Russia, Canada, Denmark, the US all have interests in the Arctic and the potential resources of the region, all spending millions of dollars to research it. While Moran knows her findings will have potential ramifications on other industries she doesn’t hide her research. Sometimes she drops her guard on which country should have access to the Arctic. She does think she can express her opinions about policy on climate, she’s a member of Union of Concerned Scientists. She’s also a pragmatist though. She plans to work closely with countries who want to map territorial claims, a relationships she sees she has to accept.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.