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calendar   Thursday - August 07, 2008

Arctic Heats Up - politically at least

Running down a bunch of links from Peiper’s Global Warming post the other day lead me to a great news site. Called The Barents Observor, it’s all about business and politics up in the Barents Sea area. For those who don’t have a globe handy, that’s the northeast end of the Atlantic Ocean, up east of Greenland, off the coast of Norway and Finland, and over to the northwest corner of Russia. You might tend to think of this area as one of the ends of the Earth, but if it is it’s also one of the busiest ones. You see, why Nancy Pelosi is braying on about saving the planet, what she really means is SCREW AMERICA. Because the people who live up there are working just as fast and as hard as they can to fish and farm and mine and drill the hell out of it, environmental impact be damned. Hey, just like China, Brazil, Africa, India ... and the whole rest of the world.

Just a few examples of what’s going on up in the great white Euro North:

But the big news concerns the Arctic basin itself. With the kindly assistance of a bit of Global Warming (and if you lived or worked up there you’d want to believe in GW harder than children need to believe in Tinkerbell, cuz it’s so freakin cold all the time.) getting some of that damned endless ice out of the way for a while last year, geologists were able to get some decent surveys done of the seabeds up there. And they found oil. And gas. And lots of other resources. So now the race is on. Why is Russia building a new aircraft carrier? Well, one reason is that they’re trying to sell the old one to India. That’s assuming they can put out the fires onboard first. Another reason might be strong arm politics. Russia is looking for oil and gas around Svaalbard (Spitzbergen) Island. And when Russia drills a hole, they usually plant a flag. This could be a problem brewing.

It wasn’t just propaganda that made the Russians plant a flag on the seabed under the North Pole almost exactly one year ago, even if their photos were faked. The race is on, and the prizes are huge. Various groups are trying to settle seabed land claims before the shooting starts, but it’s going to be a rough ride. The US will not be getting a big slice of the pie no matter what, but Denmark looks to be in line to become a new world power due to the size of it’s allocation. And tomorrow Canada will attest that the Lomonosov Ridge, a hump of seabed right under the North Pole, is actually part of the North American land mass ... the implication being that Canada should get control of it. And that ridge is where a huge part of the Arctic resources have been located.

There will be no flag-waving or patriotic chest-thumping, but Canadian scientists are quietly set to make one of this country’s most important assertions of Arctic sovereignty in decades on Friday at a geology conference in Norway.

A year after Russian scientists planted their nation’s flag on the North Pole seabed - a controversial demonstration of their country’s interest in securing control over a vast undersea mountain chain stretching across the Arctic Ocean from Siberia to Ellesmere Island and Greenland - the Canadian researchers have teamed with Danish scientists to offer proof that the Lomonosov Ridge is, in fact, a natural extension of the North American continent.

Their landmark findings, the initial result of years of sea floor mapping and millions of dollars in research investments by the Canadian and Danish governments, are to be presented at the 2008 International Geological Congress in Oslo under the innocuous title “Crustal Structure from the Lincoln Sea to the Lomonosov Ridge, Arctic Ocean.”

But the completion of the study represents a key step in Canada’s effort to eventually win rights over thousands of square kilometres of the polar seabed, a potential treasure trove of oil and gas being made more and more accessible as melting ice unlocks our High Arctic frontier.

Yeah right, no chest-thumping indeed:

And on Wednesday, the Department of National Defence detailed plans to conduct a “sovereignty operation” in Nunavut later this month.

The Aug. 19-26 exercise, similar to one conducted last summer, is intended “to project sovereignty in the eastern Arctic” and to test the military’s ability to respond to oil spills and ship emergencies, the department said.

The really frightening part of this whole land-grab situation is that the UN will have to solve it. Worse, it will be under the Jurisdiction of their Law of the Sea Conventions (UNCLOS). That’s not the Law of the Sea Treaty, but it probably isn’t much better or different.

This is a big story, and it’s going to take years to play out. And about the only place I’ve found enough information to be able to put even a few pieces of the puzzle together has been at the Barents Observer news page. It’s like some huge untapped natural resource, just waiting for exploitation. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/07/2008 at 08:51 PM   
Filed Under: • Big BusinessNatureOil, Alternative Energy, and Gas PricesPolitics •  
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