Pamela Berkowsky is a former federal and state government official with expertise in disaster preparedness and response. She served in senior Pentagon positions during the Bush I and Clinton Administrations is president of Blue Sapphire Strategies, a boutique public affairs business consultancy. As a Senior Executive Defense Consultant to the South Florida Defense Alliance, Pamela Berkowsky focuses on defense innovation and resiliency issues, including the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on U.S. military installations, personnel and operations. She is a founding member of inWEM, the International Network of Women in Emergency Management.
There are many world records which have been shattered in 2020 — including the fastest circumnavigation of the world by bicycle (female) and the most tattooed man. Among the most newsworthy, and potentially catastrophic, however, was the June recording of the hottest temperature ever north of the Arctic Circle. The small northeastern Siberian town of Verkhoyansk — generally one of the coldest places on the planet — reached a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Its average June high temperature is 68, while during the winter, temperatures can frequently dip below minus-50. Climate scientists have become alarmed by the sustained trend of unusually high Siberian temperatures, raising serious concerns about the accelerated pace of melting snow and ice and a more severe Siberian wildfire season. And many have tied the recent and tragic Norilsk Nickel oil spill directly to the thawing permafrost in the Russian Arctic, with more than 20,000 tons of diesel fuel leaking into the Ambarnaya River, perhaps the largest Arctic spill ever. With the Arctic now appearing to warm at more than twice the average global rate, it is clear that an increasingly hot future can have dangerous environmental consequences.