The Big Thaw

Policy, Governance, and Climate Change in the Circumpolar North

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Owen Temby and Peter Stoett

1. In the Vortex of the Thaw: General Introduction
Ezra B. W. Zubrow, Errol Meidinger, and Kim Diana Connolly

Part I.

2. Red Sky in Morning, Sailors Take Warning: Forewarnings from a Thawing Arctic
Ezra B. W. Zubrow, Errol Meidinger, and Kim Diana Connolly

3. Will Action on Short-Lived Climate Forcers Give the Arctic Time to Adapt?
Mark W. Roberts

4. Sustaining Arctic Breeding Waterbirds: Policy Implications for Temperate Countries Resulting from Arctic Climate Change
David A. Stroud

5. Arctic Biodiversity: Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna with Excerpts Taken from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment
Courtney Price et al.

6. Is the Climatic Optimum on Its Way Back? Consequences, Measures, and Attitudes Associated with Climate Change in Finland
Milton Núñez

7. Teleconnecting the Great Thaw
Ezra B. W. Zubrow

Part II.

8. One Law to Rule Them All: Arctic Climate Change Policy and Legal Realities
Kim Diana Connolly, Ezra B. W. Zubrow, and Errol Meidinger

9. Regulating in the Face of a Changing World: Legal Regulation of Climate Change
Michael B. Gerrard

10. Avoiding Genocide: Factors Applicable to Adaptation Planning for Arctic Indigenous Peoples
Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner

11. Geopower and Sea Ice: Encounters with the Geopolitical Stage
Duncan Depledge

12. Arctic Wetlands and Limited International Protections: Can the Ramsar Convention Help Meaningfully Address Climate Change?
Kim Diana Connolly

13. Climate Governance and Arctic Governance: You Can’t Have One Without the Other? Or, What Dual Governance Failures Look Like
Cinnamon Carlarne

Part III.

14. Polar Communities and Cultures in Addressing Climate Change
Errol Meidinger, Ezra B. W. Zubrow, and Kim Diana Connolly

15. Livelihood and Resilience in a Marginal Northern Environment: 1,000 Years on the Småland Plateau
T. L. Thurston

16. The Holocene Catastrophe
André Costopoulos

17. Effects of Natural and Social Stressors on Human Biology: Northern Sweden in the Little Ice Age
Theodore Steegmann

18. Surviving Climate Change: Yup’ik Indigenous Environmental Knowledge, a Film Project
Sarah Elder

19. Resilience, Reindeer, Oil, and Climate Change: Challenges Facing the Nenets Indigenous People in the Russian Arctic
Maria S. Tysiachniouk, Laura A. Henry, and Svetlana A. Tulaeva

20. Representations of Environmental Problems and Climate Change: The Case of the Young Inhabitants of the City of Buenos Aires
Enrique del Acebo Ibáñez

21. Future?
Torill Christine Lindstrøm

22. Conclusion: Elegy for the Arctic?
Errol Meidinger, Ezra B. W. Zubrow, and Kim Diana Connolly


Explores the unprecedented and rapid climate changes occurring in the Arctic environment.


Climate change, one of the drivers of global change, is controversial in political circles, but recognized in scientific ones as being of central importance today for the United States and the world. In The Big Thaw, the editors bring together experts, advocates, and academic professionals who address the serious issue of how climate change in the Circumpolar Arctic is affecting and will continue to affect environments, cultures, societies, and economies throughout the world. The contributors discuss a variety of topics, including anthropology, sociology, human geography, community economics, regional development and planning, and political science, as well as biogeophysical sciences such as ecology, human-environmental interactions, and climatology.

This book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to Knowledge Unlatched—an initiative that provides libraries and institutions with a centralized platform to support OA collections and from leading publishing houses and OA initiatives. Learn more at the Knowledge Unlatched website at:, and access the book online at the SUNY Open Access Repository at

At the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Ezra B. W. Zubrow is Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology. At the University of Buffalo's School of Law, Errol Meidinger is Distinguished Professor and Margaret W. Wong Professor of Law. At the University of Buffalo's School of Law, Kim Diana Connolly is Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Advocacy and Experiential Education.


"This book offers a valuable compendium on a broad spectrum of issues associated with climate change, its implications, and human adaptation in the Arctic." — Andrey N. Petrov, coauthor of Arctic Sustainability Research: Past, Present, and Future