Leading article: Preserving the Arctic wilderness must be a priority


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The Independent Online

It is difficult to overstate either the pristine beauty or the scientific value of the vast Arctic wilderness. As one of Earth's few remaining untouched ecosystems, it is an environmental paradise of inestimable variety and wonder.

But for how long? Already – as climate change sees the ice sheets melt back farther and farther each summer – countries and corporations are jostling for influence, for trade routes and for natural resources from oil to fish stocks.

Greenpeace's Save the Arctic campaign therefore merits all possible support. But it will not be enough. Indeed, there is no way to stop all development altogether, to prevent Russia, say, from drilling for oil in the Kara Sea. What is still possible, however, is to establish a legal framework to ensure that such incursions are at least regulated and controlled. There is just about enough time. But the international community must act quickly, or it will be too late.