Principle #6: Humans are a part of the Polar system. The Arctic has a rich cultural history and diversity of Indigenous Peoples.

An icon image of a historic painting of a man

6A: Humans have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years.  There is evidence of human Arctic presence from over 40,000 years ago.  Humans continually adapted to inhabit the unique environment.  

6B: Polar systems affect humans in a variety of ways.

  • 6B-1: Weather patterns – large dips in the jet stream can sweep cold air into lower latitudes where billions of people live.
  • 6B-2: Climate change- changes at the Poles affect people around the world through global ecosystem changes.
  • 6B-3: Food webs- loss of sea ice and a warming ocean is disrupting fisheries across the globe.
  • 6B-4:  Loss of sea ice is resulting in greater coastal erosion during winter storms.

6C: Climate change is affecting Arctic residents (about 4 million), including 40 different indigenous groups (about 10% of Arctic residents), through impacts to their  environments, food webs and infrastructure.

  • 6C-1: Receding sea ice is affecting animals that depend on ice cover (fish, polar bears, walruses, seals, humans).
  • 6C-2: Species are migrating and/or declining, affecting the people who depend on those species for food, clothing, and other uses – and larger ecosystem implications. Importing goods to these regions is very expensive which significantly increases costs, so many Arctic residents depend on hunting and fishing for food.
  • 6C-3: Thawing permafrost is damaging homes, roads, pipelines, buildings and ecosystems.
  • 6C-4: Coastal villages in Alaska are particularly prone to the effects of coastal erosion and storm surge during winter storms.  Some entire villages are relocating.

6D: Arctic indigenous people are important partners to the science community in understanding and observing the Arctic.

  • 6D-1: Native knowledge of Polar Regions contributes to the understanding of natural ecological cycles and the impacts of climate change on the system.
  • 6D-2: Traditional knowledge has proven essential for subsistence harvesting and for sustainable management of natural resources.

6E: The Arctic region of the United States holds sizable proved and potential conventional energy (oil and natural gas resources) and renewable energy (geothermal, tidal, wind, etc.). The impacts of extraction of the resources is questionable.