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Geopolitical changes call food security into question

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Larry Hinzman, a longtime University of Alaska researcher and Assistant Director of Polar Sciences in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said climate change in the Bering Strait region has implications for food security in a UAF NW Strait Science lecture.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of change that has occurred in the Arctic for Alaskans, and particularly for those in the Bering Strait region,” Hinzman said. “As you all know, the climate is changing. We’re losing sea ice, we’re eroding coastlines, the permafrost is thawing, and those have implications to food security. So, it really has direct impacts on the people in the region.”

Hinzman added that the political situation with Russia and China is also important when it comes to Arctic resilience.

“(There’s also) this crazy and changing geopolitical situation, which adds undue stress and concern to what we need to address and the urgency of it,” Hinzman said. “So, it’s important, it’s vitally important, that the federal government supports the Arctic, and helps the Arctic the people there be resilient to the climate crises.”

The principles observed by the federal government when it comes to Arctic policy include consultation, coordination, co-management with Alaska native tribes and communities, a deepening of relationships with allies and partners, and with planning for long lead time investments, Hinzman said.

“(There’s also) development of cross-sectoral coalitions and innovative ideas,” Hinzman said. “And a commitment to a whole-of-government evidence-based approach.”

Hinzman added that working with Alaska Native tribes and entities is an important factor for the Biden White House.

“The United States is committed to regular, meaningful, and robust consultation, coordination and co-management with Alaska Native tribes, communities, corporations, and other organizations — and to equitable inclusion of indigenous people and their knowledge,” Hinzman said. “I am sincere in this in this approach and so is our government.”

Hinzman’s primary research involves permafrost hydrology. He conducted hydrological and meteorological field studies in the Alaskan Arctic continuously for more than 35 years while collaborating on complementary research in the Russian and Canadian Arctic.

Image at top: Larry Hinzman is the Assistant Director of Polar Sciences in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Photo courtesy of US Arctic Research Commission.

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