Secrets of the Arctic : monitoring methane gas emissions’ effects on human rights

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Frandsen, Sigrid Vestergaard
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In the Arctic, methane emitted from thawing permafrost have reached alarming levels, surpassing 1.950 parts per billion over the last 5 years, which is significantly higher than pre-industrial levels (UNEP, 2021). The gradual and cumulative effects of methane-induced climate change can contribute to the erosion of Arctic Indigenous communities’ well-being (ECHO, 2023, WHO, 2015), disrupt ecosystems (Bhatia et al., 2012, IDNR, 2023), exacerbate environmental inequalities, and perpetuate social injustices (CCAC, 2021) over time. These indirect impacts align with the underlying principles of slow violence. Methane emissions in the Arctic can be understood as committing a violent act against the global population. This study aims to emphasize the crucial potential and indirect connections between methane emissions, slow violence and their impact on human rights. By connecting the intensification of climate change resulting from increased methane emissions to the concept of slow violence, we can better understand the gradual devastation faced by communities. To answer the research questions, remotely sensed satellite data was used to examine the impacts of methane emissions and its outcome on air quality, also called a spectroscopic analysis, which determines the chemical constitution of substances. Remote sensing is a useful tool, as the derived information can provide insight into how toxic gasses directly affect the air quality and indirectly leads to changes in human health (CCAC, 2021, Bermann, 2023, Gorrono, 2022). The results include: Methane contributes to the growing global concentration of tropospheric ozone, an air pollutant associated with cancer in humans and premature deaths when exposed to it long-term (Kim, et al., 2018, West, et al., 2006). The Arctic Indigenous communities have been found to hold more cancer cells of different kinds than their non-Indigenous fellow citizens. There has been marked an increase in lung, colorectal and female breast cancers, as well as some rare cancers such as nasopharyngeal cancer (Young, et al., 2016). Breathing ozone can shorten the lives of people in higher risk groups such as Indigenous Peoples. Researchers have repeatedly found that the risk of premature deaths increased with higher levels of ozone (Kim, et al., 2018). Key words: Methane emissions, slow violence, environmental degradation, Indigenous rights, Indigenous health, remote sensing, human rights, toxic pollution
Second semester University: University College Dublin
Arctic regions, indigenous peoples, indigenous rights, environmental degradation, pollution, climatic changes