Save the bees!

and defend the natural world with our
$1-for-$1 match — now through July 15


100% of your gift will be matched by our board of Trustees

Skip to main content

Visions of the Arctic

  • Porcupine Caribou Heard

    The Arctic is a surprisingly varied landscape teeming with life. Members of the Porcupine caribou herd, for example, forage in the mountain valleys of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where they find lush vegetation.

    Caribou feed constantly, even during migration, in order to gain enough weight for the mea

  • Porcupine Caribou Aerial

    Caribou form large herds on the coastal plains north of the Brooks Range.
    Vegetation and free-flowing rivers crisscross the plains during the summer months in this, one of the most splendid stretches of wilderness left in America.

  • Caribou Herd Family

    A strong bond exists between a mother caribou and her calf—I could sense it as I observed and photographed them. They recognize each other by smell and sound.

  • Dall Sheep

    Another example of the Arctic's diverse wildlife, Dall sheep seek out both alpine meadows and steep mountain slopes to escape predators that cannot traverse such difficult terrain.
    I photographed these Dall sheep in Denali National Park, just south of the Arctic.

  • Teshepuk Lake

    Few people expect to see so many wetlands and lakes dotting the Arctic landscape, yet the region is home to countless lakes and some of the most productive wetland systems in the world.
    These wetlands are near Teshekpuk Lake, a critical area for migrating bird species.

  • Black Brants Teshepuk Lake

    Huge numbers of black brants ply the waters of Teshekpuk Lake during the summer breeding season.
    In winter, the birds migrate south to Baja California. Black brants are one of many bird species that depend on the Teshekpuk Lake area for their survival.

  • Beluga Whale Chukchi Sea

    The waters off the Arctic—especially the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—host a rich variety of marine life, such as beluga whales.
    Belugas are social animals that often migrate, hunt and interact with each other in groups ranging from ten to several hundred. They are near the top of the Arctic marine food chain, feeding on fish, squid and crustaceans.

  • Sandpipers

    Sandpipers in Prince William Sound grow restless as they prepare to migrate north to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.
    Millions of migratory birds depend on the region for their survival.

  • Oil Platforms

    Things are changing rapidly in the Arctic. Oil companies are planning offshore oil development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, two key marine habitats in the Arctic.
    Conservation groups, such as Earthjustice, are working to limit offshore oil development in these waters until it is clear how to best protect them. For example, at present there are no known methods for cleaning up oil spills in an icy environment.
    These oil platforms are what we could expect to see in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas if oil develop

  • Prudhoe Bay Oil Fields

    Lured by the potential of large profits, energy companies want to turn onshore Arctic lands into major oil- and gas-producing regions like the Prudhoe Bay oil fields west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Oil Pipeline

    Not surprisingly, pipelines, roads, and processing facilities are springing up in areas that are important to wildlife.
    This pipeline, for example, crisscrosses a caribou migration route east of Prudhoe Bay

  • Dalton Highway

    Caribou cross the Dalton Highway, a 414-mile road that begins north of Fairbanks, Alaska, and ends at the town of Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean.
    Studies have shown that calving female caribou generally try to avoid highways and pipelines, and these structures can impede caribou movement.

  • Grizzly Bear Deadhorse

    As oil development expands farther into wildlife habitat, human-wildlife interactions can take a tragic turn.
    This grizzly bear became conditioned to garbage waste and was later killed.

  • Musk Oxen

    Musk oxen gather at the edge of the oil town of Deadhorse, Alaska.
    Development in the Arctic can displace native species while attracting predators like foxes that prey on local bird populations.

  • Red Dog Mine

    Oil and gas companies are not the only ones interested in exploiting the Arctic's natural resources.
    Mining companies want to extract the region's mineral wealth as well, as they have done with the Red Dog Mine in the Western Arctic—the world's largest producer of zinc concentrate.

  • Sea Ice

    In addition to the threat of rapid industrialization, rising global temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels are starting to alter the Arctic landscape.
    Sea ice, for example, is starting to break up earlier than usual, and scientists estimate that the Arctic Ocean could become ice-free during the summer in only 30 to 40 years.

  • Inupiat Hunter

    Changing sea-ice conditions, including early break-ups and late freeze-ups, are affecting the ability of Inupiat hunters to provide food for their families.

  • Polar Bear Beufort Sea

    One of the most recognizable faces of climate change, polar bears must swim longer distances to reach solid sea ice as warmer temperatures create larger stretches of open water.
    If current warming trends continue, scientists estimate that polar bears may become extinct from most of their range in less than 100 years.

  • Chukchi Sea

    Impacts to the Arctic have ripple effects beyond its borders.
    The rapid melting of Arctic glaciers in Greenland would raise sea levels and render low-lying areas such as Miami and New Orleans more vulnerable to coastal flooding.

  • Kittiwakes

    The Arctic also serves as the "world's air conditioner" and helps regulate global temperatures.
    Because of this, rapid changes to the Arctic would not only affect Arctic species, such as these kittiwakes, but also affect the climate and species in other parts of the world.

  • Snowy Owls and Chicks

    Earthjustice and other conservation groups have been working to protect the Arctic by curbing oil and gas development in sensitive regions.
    These snowy owls will feed their chicks as much as possible during the short summer months before winter sets in.

  • Gray Wold

    Preserving Arctic lands will also help the survival of species that are endangered in the lower-48 states but enjoy healthy populations in the Arctic, such as this majestic gray wolf photographed in Denali National Park south of the Arctic among the fall colors of the tundra.

  • Grizzly Bear

    The grizzly bear is another species that has been drastically reduced in the continental U.S. but still thrives in Alaska and its Arctic regions.
    This grizzly is patrolling the banks of the Arctic's Canning River.

  • Peregrine Falcon

    The Arctic even serves as habitat for the peregrine falcon, whose population in the United States was almost decimated by the use of the pesticide DDT.
    The Arctic was one of the last few areas with healthy populations of peregrines, and the species has now recovered throughout much of the United States after DDT was banned in the 1970s.

  • Caribou

    As part of its Arctic conservation efforts, outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia is helping to establish wildlife corridors in North America, where animals such as the caribou can roam freely.

  • Arctic Tern and Chick

    As I watched this newly hatched arctic tern huddle close to its mother for warmth, I realized that the Arctic is a biological treasure—a place that doesn't just belong to us, but to our children and all future generations.
    In order to protect the Arctic's flora and fauna, conservation groups such as Earthjustice are calling for a time-out on controversial development projects until we have a better scientific understanding of their environmental impacts on the Arctic.

  • Caribou

    The future of the Arctic will depend on the ability of lawmakers, Native peoples, conservation groups, businesses and the public to work together and establish a responsible management plan that protects this special region.
    As I took this photo of caribou migrating along the Canning River under a setting Arctic sun, I could sense that we are at a crossroads: the future of the Arctic is in our hands. I have hope we will do the right thing.

  • Caribou Western Arctic

    Please help Earthjustice and its partners protect the magnificent Arctic by urging Congress to pass meaningful climate change legislation.
    Reducing greenhouse gases while encouraging the development of clean energy will help ensure that the Arctic is preserved for many generations to come.


Of all the places Earthjustice works to protect, few are as iconic and misunderstood as the Arctic. At best, it conjures images of a distant, icy land sparsely inhabited by polar bears and walruses—beautiful, but removed from our everyday lives. At worst, it's a frozen wasteland devoid of life but rich in oil, a place to exploit at will. Nothing could be further from the truth. Florian Schulz's photography showcases the beauty of the Arctic and the threats the region faces from industrialization and climate change.

More Slideshows

Fighting for Clean Air in the Shadow of Oil Refineries

Explosions, toxic clouds, chemical accidents–and the ill health affects they cause—are a regular part of life for communities existing in the shadow of oil refineries. In 2014, the EPA finally began to control these toxic time bombs. Learn more about the people fighting for cleaner air and stand with them!

Farmworkers Demand Protections from Pesticides

Coming from across the nation and from the frontlines of exposure to high levels of toxic pesticides, farmworkers met with their members of Congress on July 16, 2013 to call for stronger protections from pesticides. These farmworkers and their allies seek to strengthen outdated safeguards the EPA has failed to revise for more than 20 years—despite overwhelming evidence of their inadequacy.

Protecting Endangered Caribbean Corals

Excessive algal growth is threatening the health of Caribbean reefs, choking out corals and degrading the habitat that other reef creatures depend on. Fish, especially parrotfish, which graze on algae around coral reefs, play a key function in providing suitable habitat for corals to settle and build those reefs.