Posts Tagged ‘Arctic’

Will the Arctic be the next big arena of conflict?

December 9, 2015
Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

The warming Arctic is likely to be a new arena of conflict between Russia and the USA.

But unlike in current conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, there will be no question of democracy or a fight against terrorism to cloud the central issue—control of oil and gas resources and transportation routes.

The infrographic by the South China Morning Post provides a good snapshot of the situation.   The potential conflict in the Arctic is even more dangerous than existing conflicts, because of its potential for direct confrontation between the USA and Russia.

The other nations with the greatest physical presence in the Arctic are Canada and Denmark (which controls Greenland).   It will be interesting to see whether they will follow the lead of the United States or try to steer an independent course.

The irony of the situation is that the Arctic is being opened up by global warming, which causes the Arctic ice cap to shrink over time, and that the warming is caused mainly by burning of fossil fuels, but the new oil and gas supplied from the Arctic will make it easier and cheaper to keep on burning fossil fuels.

The best outcome would be for the Arctic powers to agree on sharing and conserving the region’s resources.  That doesn’t seem likely anytime soon.

The potential wealth of a warming Arctic

June 4, 2012

Arctic oil and gas exploration fields

The gradual shrinking of the Arctic ice cap is opening the Arctic’s oil and gas, minerals and fisheries for development. Corporations and Arctic nations all want their share.

British writer Charles Emmerson wrote in The Future History of the Arctic, which was published in 2010, that the Russian Federation is the nation with the greatest presence in the Arctic and the greatest commitment to expanding in the region.   Russia thinks of itself as an Arctic nation.  This has been so, Emmerson wrote, since the days of the old Soviet Union, which built an Arctic infrastructure on the bodies of Gulag laborers.  The earliest Heroes of the Soviet Union were Arctic aviators and explorers.  Present-day Russia has no Gulag, but, like the old Soviet Union, it is committed to Arctic development by government policy regardless of cost, efficiency and fluctuations of the world price of oil and gas.

Click to enlarge

The above map shows the conflicting claims of nations.  The map below shows just the Russian claim.  The heavy black line shows the limits of the part of the Russian claim recognized by other nations.  The darker region shows the more extensive Russian claim.

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to the Norwegian Arctic on Saturday and called for cooperation among the Arctic nations—Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark (which controls Greenland), Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

Click on Arctic Oil and Gas Resources for more about the Arctic’s potential as a source of oil and gas.

Click on Russia: the non-reluctant Arctic power for more about Russia’s claims in the Arctic.

Click on Arctic Warming Means Challenges, Clinton Says for the Voice of America’s report on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call last Saturday for international cooperation in the Arctic.

Click on Clinton in Arctic: Promenade with profit in mind for Russia Today’s version of Clinton’s position.

Click on Navigating a warming Arctic Ocean for more maps.

Navigating a warming Arctic Ocean

June 4, 2012

The Arctic ice cap is shrinking under the influence of global warming.  The map compares the extent of the Arctic ice cap on Sept. 10, 1011, with the September average for 2002 through 2006.

A Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia and a Northwest Passage across the top of Canada soon will be open.  Someday it may be possible to cross the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole.

The warming of the Arctic will open its vast oil, mineral and fisheries resources for development, and create an arena for economic rivalry, political conflict and perhaps military confrontation.  Below is a map showing the Arctic ports in relation to oil and gas fields and the projected shrinking of the Arctic ice caps over the next few decades.