Those are certainly hopeful notes. But however it goes, Washington remains unready for the new age of the Arctic. "I believe it is a race," says Mead Treadwell, an Anchorage businessman who chairs the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, a federally appointed advisory group. "This is a time in human history when rules and practices for the Arctic will be set. If we ignore this opportunity, we may not be happy with the result." It is pretty clear, though, that ignoring the High North will not be an option.