Will the Polar Caps be the Fault Lines of Future Global Conflict?
The battle lines of future conflict between nations are emerging along the fault lines of the polar ice caps of our planet. An international race for oil, fish, diamonds and shipping routes, is being accelerated by the impact of global warming on Earth's frozen north.
The latest report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the ice cap is warming faster than the rest of the planet and ice is receding. It's a catastrophic scenario for the Arctic ecosystem, for polar bears and other wildlife, and for indigenous populations like the Inuit and the Sami whose ancient cultures depend on frozen waters.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic has as much as 25 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Moscow reportedly sees the potential of minerals in its slice of the Arctic sector approaching $2 trillion. Major petroleum companies are now focusing research and exploration on the far north. Russia is developing the vast Shkotman natural gas field off its Arctic coast.
The melting ice cap could open the North Pole region to easy navigation for five months a year, according to the latest Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, revolutionizing shipping the way the Suez Canal did in the 20th Century. Up until recently, reports said it would take 100 years for the ice to melt, but new studies say it could happen in 10-15 years, and the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark and Norway have been rushing to stake their claims in the Arctic.
In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the sovereignty issue "a serious, competitive battle" that "will unfold more and more fiercely." Posted by Casey Kazan.