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September 16, 2015

At Arctic Event, King Enlists Help of Scientific Community to Raise Profile of Arctic Issues

Without good data, policymakers can’t make good decisions about the Arctic, King says to conference of scientific leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Speaking at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) this morning, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) underscored that climate change is quickly altering the Arctic environment and that the U.S. must be prepared to address the evolving dynamics in the region. In his remarks, Senator King, a co-founding chairman of the Senate Arctic Caucus, also urged the scientific community to help raise the awareness of Arctic issues in Congress by providing more information and data to lawmakers that would ultimately help them make better, more well-informed decisions.

“Climate change can occur abruptly, so we need to understand the timeframe that we’re talking about and what we’re dealing with here in terms of risk,” Senator King said in his remarks. “ This is all about science, and you’ve got to give us that science in order for us to have the basis for making good policy. If we don’t have good science, we can’t make good policy. I commend you for what you’re doing […] and am delighted to be working with you, and look forward to continuing to work with you on what is a very important issue for our country and for the world.”

The event, entitled, “Arctic Transformation: Understanding Arctic Research and the Vital Role of Science,” also featured remarks from Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dr. John Holdren, Chair of the Arctic Executive Steering Committee and Director of the Office of Science and Technology at the White House. In his remarks, Senator King outlined several points that he hoped the scientific community could help lawmakers in Congress better understand, including: data on the timing of climate changes in the region, such as changes in ocean currents and the melting of permafrost, which would accelerate climate change, and additional information on how an expansion of the American icebreaker fleet would benefit research and U.S. interests in the region. Senator King also emphasized the importance of a “gap analysis team” of scientists to look for gaps of knowledge in current Arctic science.

Since visiting the Arctic twice recently, Senator King has called for greater U.S. leadership in the region and has also said the U.S. must recalibrate its national security and economic strategies to better address the changing Arctic environment. To spotlight the region and open up a wider conversation about the nation’s future in the Arctic, he and Senator Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, launched the Senate Arctic Caucus earlier this year. Both Senators also traveled with Secretary of State John Kerry to Iqaluit, Canada in May when the United States formally assumed its two-year tenure as Chair of the Arctic Council. With Senator King’s help, the City of Portland was also recently selected to host an Artic Council meeting in 2016.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that works to develop practical solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Founded in 1962, CSIS is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has 220 full-time staff and an extensive network of affiliated scholars that conduct research and analysis and develop policy initiatives.


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