Freed by warming, waters once locked beneath ice are gnawing at coastal settlements around the Arctic Circle. In Bykovsky, a village of 457 on Russia's northeast coast, the shoreline is collapsing, creeping closer and closer to houses and tanks of heating oil, at a rate of 15 to 18 feet a year.
"It is practically all ice - permafrost - and it is thawing." For the four million people who live north of the Arctic Circle, a changing climate presents new opportunities. But it also threatens their environment, their homes and, for those whose traditions rely on the ice-bound wilderness, the preservation of their culture.
A push to develop the North, quickened by the melting of the Arctic seas, carries its own rewards and dangers for people in the region. The discovery of vast petroleum fields in the Barents and Kara Seas has raised fears of catastrophic accidents as ships loaded with oil and, soon, liquefied gas churn through the fisheries off Scandinavia, headed to markets in Europe and North America. Land that was untouched could be tainted by pollution as generators, smokestacks and large vehicles sprout to support the growing energy industry.
are noticing changes in weather and wildlife. They are trying to adapt, but it can be confounding.
In Finnmark, Norway's northernmost province, the Arctic landscape unfolds in late winter as an endless snowy plateau, silent but for the cries of the reindeer and the occasional whine of a snowmobile herding them.
A changing Arctic is felt there, too. "The reindeer are becoming unhappy," said Issat Eira, a 31-year-old reindeer herder.
Few countries rival Norway when it comes to protecting the environment and preserving indigenous customs. The state has lavished its oil wealth on the region, and Sami culture has enjoyed something of a renaissance. And yet no amount of government support can convince Mr. Eira that his livelihood, intractably entwined with the reindeer, is not about to change. Like a Texas cattleman, he keeps the size of his herd secret. But he said warmer temperatures in fall and spring were melting the top layers of snow, which then refreeze as ice, making it harder for his reindeer to dig through to the lichen they eat.
"The people who are making the decisions, they are living in the south and they are living in towns," said Mr. Eira, sitting inside his home made of reindeer hides. "They don't mark the change of weather. It is only people who live in nature and get resources from nature who mark it."
A push to develop the North, quickened by the melting of the Arctic seas, carries its
own rewards and dangers for people in the region. The discovery of vast petroleum fields in the Barents and Kara Seas has raised fears of catastrophic accidents as ships loaded with oil and, soon, liquefied gas churn through the fisheries off Scandinavia, headed to markets in Europe and North America. Land that was untouched could be tainted by pollution as generators, smokestacks and large vehicles sprout to support the growing energy industry.
Faced with growing evidence that avian influenza is spreading in birds, the World Health Organization on Wednesday signed an agreement with the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Holding to build up its stockpile of medicines in case of a pandemic in humans.
Under the agreement, Roche will reserve three million treatments of its Tamiflu antiviral medicine for use by the UN agency in case of a worldwide human pandemic of avian flu.
"It's just enough to deal with an initial outbreak," said Jong-Wook Lee, director-general of the WHO. "But clearly this is not enough to deal with a full pandemic."
The agency says only 57 people in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia have died, mainly from contact with infected birds. The virus has killed millions of chickens and led to preventive culling across Asia since late 2003.
Sustained human-to-human infection has not yet been recorded.But the World Health Organization warns that bird flu, which first appeared in Hong Kong in 1997, could mutate genetically, making it easier for humans to catch and transmit the disease among themselves.
Signs the disease has spread recently to birds in Siberia and Kazakhstan are adding to concerns, the WHO says.
A panel of European Union experts will convene Thursday in Brussels to discuss measures to prevent the spread of bird deaths to European poultry.
When asked whether he thought a widespread outbreak in humans was imminent, Lee said: "We don't know when it will come. But it would be hugely irresponsible if the WHO and member states did not take preventive measures now."
order was placed- a relatively long time due to a complicated production process.
It took nine years from the time the Danish and Swedish governments agreed to build a fixed link between their countries to the time the first car, train, truck and bicyclists crossed the Oresund Bridge.
Construction of the bridge, including design and cornerstone, began in March 1991 and was completed in July road and rail bridge in the world. At approximately 10 miles (16 tunnel, it is an But as time has proven, the minimalism has contributed greatly to the development of the Oresund region: the eastern part of Denmark, including Copenhagen, and the southwestern part of Sweden, including Malm and Lund.
The level of commuting between Malm and Copenhagen has quadrupled since the opening of the bridge in 2000, and the number of Danes moving to the south of Sweden has increased sixfold. The Oresund region has become a cultural and economic powerhouse, considered a model region by the European Union.
Work on the bridge began in 1995, and was undertaken by a team of international consulting and construction companies.
From the beginning, construction of the bridge complied with some of the worlds toughest environmental regulations, as well as many advanced design and construction details. The Mexico-based CEMEX, one of the worlds largest producers of Cement and ready-mix concrete, was awarded a contract to deliver tons of high-quality cement to help build the main part of the bridge, the two approach bridges and the tunnel.
When it opened in July 2000, the Oresund Bridge consisted of a 3.5-kilometer immersed tunnel, the largest of its kind in the world, a 4-kilometer long artificial island (made from mud dug out from the bottom of strait to make space for the tunnel) and a 7.8-kilometer cable-stayed bridge, the worlds longest bridge including both a highway and a railroad.
Though just half of the total construction, the actual bridge span, is visible above water, the overall architecture was designed to please the eye from both the Danish and Swedish sides of the strait.
The four 204-meter (670 feet) tall pillars carrying the bridge have a simple Scandinavian design. To drivers and passengers crossing the bridge, the pillars provide a visual, as well as actual, impression of stability and calm. The two-level structure is made of steel and concrete. Along tile two approach bridges, tracks are piaced in concrete troughs that turn into steel decks on the bridge. The bridges upper deck carries cars and trucks, while the lower deck accommodates the railroad. The four pillars are grounded in giant cement boxes placed at the bottom of the strait, about 18 meters below sea level.
Last 13,600 traffic Throughout the construction process, the Danish and Swedish environmental agencies have surveyed but found no changes in the wildlife, birds, fish and vegetation surrounding the bridge. In addition, the chemicals used in construction and the percentage of waste materials have been kept to a minimum, as required by both Danish and Swedish laws.
In 2003, the Oresund Bridge won the IABSE (International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering) Outstanding Structural Award for its innovative design, planning and construction management, as well as its strict compliance with the time schedule, budget and environmental requirements.