Helsinki, Finland - First, the bad news: This summer, the sea ice that caps the Arctic Ocean melted to the lowest level since at least 1979, when satellites first began keeping track of ice over the North Pole.
But here's the good news, at least according to oil companies: Climate change-related Arctic ice melting means vast new territories will likely be open for drilling.
It's a twist on Rahm Emanuel's quip about never letting a crisis got to waste. And it's a matter of hot debate now among Arctic-region government officials.
Many line up with the oil industry in arguing that since climate change is happening in real time and is likely irreversible, something positive might as well come out of it. The European Parliament's industry committee has rejected attempts to introduce a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. The EU sees itself as an actor in the Arctic because three EU countries have territory in the Arctic - Denmark, Finland and Sweden - while Iceland is an EU candidate.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there may be more than 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil buried in the Arctic - about 13% of the world's estimated undiscovered reserves. So as climate change - due chiefly to the burning of fossil fuels like oil - melts the Arctic ice, it becomes easier for oil companies to send their drilling ships northward and produce more oil for us to burn.
Still, environmental concerns that have so far kept drilling out of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge apply to non-U.S. areas. TIME reported in September that an environmental disaster in the Arctic would be much more difficult to clean up than, say, the BP rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. The Chukchi Sea is more than a thousand miles away from the nearest Coast Guard station.
Politix reporting and via TIME.