Aug 20, 2007
On August 2, Russians from a submarine planted their country’s flag more than 12,000 feet below the ice of the North Pole. The Canadian Prime Minister responded by going there three days later. The Canadian Foreign Minister declared that “the sovereignty of Canada over the Arctic is unquestionable.” The Canadian government announced it would invest 6.6 billion dollars over 25 years for the construction of a military base in the region. The U.S. also has an eye on this region of the world and foresees an intensification of its exploration of the ocean depths. The Danish and Norwegians are sending scientific expeditions there.
The sudden interest in this region has several reasons. Scientists estimate that global warming will make the ice cap disappear between now and 2050. At that point, the riches found today under the polar ice cap could become exploitable. Some estimates suggest the Arctic has the equivalent of 25% of the world’s oil and gas reserves. No wonder so many countries want to get a foothold on this uninhabited ice.
None of these governments proposes to do a thing about global warming, but the thirst for profits reawakens old national antagonisms. A U.N. commission will rule on where each country may have its economic zone of exploitation in the Arctic – but not until 2013. So these governments sniffing around the Arctic Ocean are restless. Oil exploration cannot wait.
These maneuvers indicate polar bears won’t be the only victims of global warming in the years to come.