As Goes the Arctic, So Goes the Planet

12/08/2010 05:29 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We began the Timberland Journey of Action tour in Juneau. We went to Alaska to highlight the issue of ocean conservation. The people we interviewed in Alaska understand the relationship between people and nature. We met with a scientist from the non-profit Oceana, which is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, a 27 year old fisherwoman, who sustainably fishes and lives a life of self-suffiency, and the Co-Founder of the Alaskan Brewing Company, who is committed to exercising environmental stewardship in every aspect of her business. The company aims to have a zero-net negative effect upon the environment by reclaiming and reusing at least as much waste and emissions as they produce.

What happens in the Arctic affects everyone. As Chris Krenz from Oceana says in our video, as goes the artic, so goes the planet. The Arctic is at the most dramatic of crossroads. 386,000 square miles of Arctic sea ice have melted away over the past 30 years. Scientist predict in 2030 the North Pole will be ice-free in the summer.

The pressures of climate change and industrialization create a bottleneck for survival in the Arctic Ocean. The more pressure we put on the Arctic, from industrial fishing, to shipping and pollution, and most importantly oil and gas development, the narrower the bottleneck becomes. If we reduce or remove those pressures, we can widen the possibility for survival.

While the Arctic may be hovering on the edge of disaster, it also presents us with the unique opportunity to use the lessons we have learned about ecosystem management and ocean conservation. We can decide today to protect rather than recklessly exploit one of the planet's last frontiers and chart a new course for how we live on the Earth.