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Posted on on March 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Arctic warming could result in armed conflict: naval expert; Melting of passageway means countries will vie to control it, former coast guard official says.

Peter O’Neil, The Ottawa Citizen, Friday, February 29, 2008, From Paris.

The fast-warming Arctic’s vast economic potential makes it increasingly prone to smuggling, perilous polar tourism, environmental catastrophes and even armed conflict unless Canada and the U.S. lead efforts to bring order to the region, according to a new analysis.

Former U.S. Coast Guard Lt.-Cmdr. Scott Borgerson, in the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine, argued Washington has to start with a Canada-U.S. agreement on how the Arctic should be regulated as global warming opens northern sea lanes. He also called on U.S. leaders to take seriously Canada’s sovereignty claims over the Northwest Passage, as well as consider a way to resolve competing claims involving Russia, Denmark and Norway.

“The United States should not underestimate Canadian passions on this issue,” wrote Lt.-Cmdr. Borgerson, a fellow at the influential Council on Foreign Relations.
He cited ongoing Canadian “sabre-rattling” and noted that Canada is among several countries bulking up their military and surveillance capabilities in the North in anticipation of expanded shipping and energy exploration activity.
“There are currently no clear rules governing this economically and strategically vital region,” stated the magazine’s summary of Lt.-Cmdr. Borgerson’s analysis, called Arctic Meltdown: The Economic and Security Implications of Global Warming.

“Unless Washington leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the Arctic could descend into armed conflict.”

Lt.-Cmdr. Borgerson doesn’t specifically identify which countries would engage in battle, though he noted Russia’s increasing assertiveness in claiming sovereignty of huge swaths of the region off its coast.

Territorial disputes and the lack of regulations pose “grave dangers” that could “eventually lead to … armed brinkmanship” involving not only the countries staking claims, but also energy-hungry newcomers like China eying the North, he wrote.

The U.S. has consistently rejected Canada’s claim of right of control over the Northwest Passage. It has also refused to ratify the United Nations Law of the Sea because the Senate views the treaty as an encroachment on U.S. sovereignty.
Lt.-Cmdr. Borgerson said the U.S. government’s status outside the treaty restricts its ability to assert its own territorial claims off the Alaskan coast. He also asserted that the U.S. needs, as a first step, to strike an accord with Canada on regulating vessel and tanker traffic in the North.
Citing studies suggesting an ice-free Arctic in the summer as early as 2013, he said the U.S. should seek a broad treaty with all Arctic countries as well as a bilateral deal with Canada to manage and police shipping and Arctic activity, including tourism and environmental protection.

Among the concerns he cited:

– How to carve up the “the world’s longest uncharted and most geologically complex continental shelf among five states with competing claims.”

– How to regulate and protect a region facing an explosion of offshore oil and gas exploration and development. “Oil tankers present a particularly grave environmental threat, as illustrated by three recent oil spills in the much safer waters of the San Francisco Bay, the Black Sea, and the Yellow Sea.”

– How to clean up the hazard created by Russia’s dumping of 18 reactors, some still fully loaded with nuclear fuel, in the Arctic Ocean between 1958 and 1992.

– How to recognize the interests of one million indigenous people whose rights in areas such as the bowhead whale hunt, which could be jeopardized by an explosion of shipping activity by companies seeking to exploit far quicker sea routes than exist today from Asia to Europe through the Panama Canal.


Adds by Google that came along with the Ottawa Post article – Then why why should not Google also try to make money from the global misery like mostly everyone else is bound to do?:
(Yes – this is also freedom of speech and freedom of the press – the dissemination of venom that can make money for someone!)

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