Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

83 the problem (Hasemyer, 2021). This reluctance is unfortunate, as permafrost melting could disrupt the very economic viability of North Slope oil and natural gas extraction because of the rising costs of maintaining the pipeline. Case Studies Discussion A common denominator in the two case studies is a lack of early action by responsible authorities. In both cases, Denali Park Road and TAPS, the problem had been present for a while, but action was taken only when the effects were pronounced and visible. The rate of permafrost degradation has been accelerating in recent years, a rate previously unanticipated. Even though the permafrost conditions were continuously monitored in both the cases, there was no early intervention despite anticipated permafrost thaw. Had the responsible entities recognized the potential damage due to delayed actions, the outcome described in these case studies might have been different. The broader lesson to be derived from these cases is that recognizing potential problems associated with permafrost degradation, both immediate and long term, can allow sufficient time to create solutions that can slow both physical and economic developments. Planning for the Future Identifying and acknowledging the problem are the first steps in creating a plan for responding to permafrost thawing. As discussed above, most of the serious impacts of permafrost are analyzed on a long-term basis. Projections for future permafrost degradation indicate that the extent of permafrost closer to the surface of the ground will decrease more rapidly than initially anticipated (U.N. Environment Programme, 2012). To address the needs for a warming world and the scale and uncertainty associated with climate change, there are recommendations at several levels: permafrost monitoring, infrastructure maintenance, and innovative replacement. Proper permafrost monitoring will lead to an understanding of the impacts of permafrost thaw on the life span of infrastructure. The Department of the Interior currently is developing a long-term monitoring network on federal lands in Alaska as a part of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GNT-P) and the Global Climate Observing System. As part of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program, the Central Alaska Network was established to provide baseline information on long-term trends on national park resources. These networks have been monitoring active layer depth (maximum surface thaw depth in summer) and permafrost temperature since 1998. So far, this database has not been utilized to create an action plan for at-risk infrastructure. The current monitoring networks are run globally; hence, it is difficult to apply the information to smaller local regions. Either the federal or state government should consider taking over the operation of GNT-P sites or creating a statewide network using current databases. Previously, countries such as China and Switzerland have been able to establish such a network. Having more input on permafrost status makes it possible to increase funding, standardize measurements, and expand monitored regions. Using these data, it is possible to establish a monitoring and assessment program to analyze the risk posed to an infrastructure based on the status of permafrost, scale of infrastructure developed in that region, and populations any damage would affect. By assessing risk levels of an infrastructure system based on the severity of permafrost thaw, immediate attention can be sought to reduce the harm in a high-risk region. A possible model for permafrost monitoring exists in the National Dam Safety Program Act (1972). The act authorized inventory of all US dams and an inspection by the US Army Corps of Engineers to determine the safety and risks of failure of each dam. The dams were prioritized for remedial safety action based on the structural integrity, surrounding population, and environmental consequences. A local-scale, infrastructure risk assessment/monitoring program for permafrost and infrastructure could be established under similar guidelines. To facilitate this program, funding plans need to be developed to take remedial action on any infrastructure that poses a severe risk. The Biden Infrastructure Plan allows leeway to fund such programs since most at-risk infrastructure are roads or highways. To keep infrastructure intact, maintenance is key. Based on the severity of damage, maintenance must be carried out regularly to