What government can afford to allow an activity without insurance?
What if the activity is outside National frontiers – in the Global Commons. Who has then to license such activities?
Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem, warns Lloyd’s of London.
Insurance market joins environmentalists in highlighting risks of drilling in fragile region as $100bn investment is predicted.
The Guardian, Wednesday 11 April 2012
The City institution estimates that $100bn (£63bn) of new investment is heading for the far north over the next decade, but believes cleaning up any oil spill in the Arctic, particularly in ice-covered areas, would present “multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk”.
Richard Ward, Lloyd’s chief executive, urged companies not to “rush in [but instead to] step back and think carefully about the consequences of that action” before research was carried out and the right safety measures put in place.
The main concerns, outlined in a report drawn up with the help of the Chatham House thinktank, come as the future of the Arctic is reviewed by a House of Commons select committee and just two years after the devastating BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
The far north has become a centre of commercial attention as global temperatures rise, causing ice to melt in a region that could hold up to a quarter of the world’s remaining hydrocarbon reserves.
Cairn Energy and Shell are among the oil companies that have either started or are planning new wells off the coasts of places such as Greenland and Canada, while Total – currently at the centre of a North Sea gas leak – wants to develop the Shtokman field off Russia.
Shtokman is the largest single potential offshore Arctic project, 350 miles into the Russian-controlled part of the Barents Sea, where investment could reach $50bn.
A BP joint venture is planning to spend up to $10bn on developing onshore oilfields in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous area of Russia, despite its experiences with the Macondo oil spill in the relatively benign waters of the Gulf. A series of onshore mining schemes are also planned, with Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man, wanting to develop a new opencast mine 300 miles inside the Arctic circle in a bid to extract up to £14bn of iron ore.
But the new report from Lloyd’s, written by Charles Emmerson and Glada Lahn of Chatham House, says it is “highly likely” that future economic activity in the Arctic will further disturb ecosystems already stressed by the consequences of climate change.
“Migration patterns of caribou and whales in offshore areas may be affected. Other than the direct release of pollutants into the Arctic environment, there are multiple ways in which ecosystems could be disturbed, such as the construction of pipelines and roads, noise pollution from offshore drilling, seismic survey activity or additional maritime traffic as well as through the break-up of sea ice.”
The authors point out that the Arctic is not one but several ecosystems, and is “highly sensitive to damage” that would have a long-term impact. They are calling for “baseline knowledge about the natural environment and consistent environmental monitoring”. Pollution sources include mines, oil and gas installations, industrial sites and, in the Russian Arctic, nuclear waste from civilian and military installations, and from nuclear weapons testing on Novaya Zemlya. The report singles out a potential oil spill as the “greatest risk in terms of environmental damage, potential cost and insurance” – but says there are significant knowledge gaps in this area.
Rates of natural biodegradation of oil in the Arctic could be expected to be lower than in more temperate environments such as the Gulf of Mexico, although there is currently insufficient understanding of how oil will degrade over the long term in the Arctic. Sea ice could assist in some oil-spill response techniques, such as in-situ burning and chemical dispersant application, but this could lead to air pollution and the release of chemicals into the marine environment without knowing where moving ice will eventually carry them.
Unclear legal boundaries posed by a mosaic of regulations and governments in the Arctic are an additional challenge. The Lloyd’s report notes that there is no international liability and compensation regime for oil spills. An EU proposal under discussion would apply to offshore oil projects in the Arctic territories of Norway and Denmark, and possibly to all EU companies anywhere they operate.
Meanwhile, a taskforce is drawing up recommendations for the intergovernmental Arctic Council on an international instrument on marine oil pollution designed to speed up the process for clean-up and compensation payments, due for release next year. This may include an international liability and compensation instrument. Greenland has argued that “different national systems may lead to ambiguities and unnecessary delays in oil pollution responses and compensation payments” and that any regime must adapt as understanding of the worst-case scenario in the Arctic changes.
The Lloyd’s report says the “inadequacies” of both company and government in the event of a disaster were demonstrated after the Macondo blowout. A smaller company than BP, faced with estimated $40bn clean-up and compensation costs, might have gone bankrupt, leaving the state to foot the bill, it notes.
Lloyd’s says it is essential that there is more investment in science and research to “close knowledge gaps, reduce uncertainties and manage risks”. It calls for sizeable investment in infrastructure and surveillance to enable “safe economic activity” and argues that “full-scale exercises based on worst-case scenarios of environmental disaster should be run by companies”.
The Arctic’s vulnerable environment, unpredictable climate and lack of a precedent on which to base cost assessments have led some environmental NGOs to argue that no compensation would be worth the risk of allowing drilling to take place in pristine offshore areas. Others are campaigning for more stringent regulations and the removal of the liability cap for investors.
Abstracts are invited on all issues relevant to climate adaptation in the Nordic countries, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Theory and methods for adaptation research
We also welcome your suggestions for parallel sessions, especially those that bring together knowledge from multiple locations and research projects. Session proposals should include a description of the session (topic, motivation, format). Please send your session proposal, together with abstracts for each suggested presentation, by email to email@example.com no later than 10 August. All parallel sessions will be 90 minutes long.
As communicated earlier, the international conference ”Climate Adaptation in the Nordic Countries: Science, Practice, Policy’ will take place in Stockholm on 8–10 November 2010. Please note that we are unable to provide financial support to participants. Any requests to this effect will be ignored.
Should you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is official – 2000s Warmest Decade – Global Warming is Man-made and Cancun will be a bust or – in order to avoid this – the start of the implementation of moves initiated in Copenhagen by a smaller group of representatives. Big Business in Washington guarantees to try to interfere.
WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010
Climate report shows Earth has heated up over 50 years.
Which in the printed Wall Street version was rechristened – “CLIMATE STUDY CITES 2000 as WARMEST DECADE.” This appropriate to the US inward look of New York, while the above title is clear better positioned for the world at large -
By GAUTAM NAIK
A new assessment concludes that the Earth has been getting warmer over the past 50 years and the past decade was the warmest on record.
The State of the Climate 2009 report, published Wednesday as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 300 scientists from 48 countries and drew on measures of 10 crucial climate indicators.
Seven of the indicators were rising, including air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, sea level, ocean heat and humidity. Three indicators were declining, including Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.
“Each indicator is changing as we’d expect in a warming world,” said Peter Thorne, senior researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, a research consortium based in College Park, Md., who was involved in compiling the report.
The report’s conclusions broadly match those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, which published its last set of findings in 2007. The IPCC report contained some errors, which further stoked the debate about the existence, causes and effects of global warming.
The new report incorporates data from the past few years that weren’t included in the last IPCC assessment. While the IPCC report concluded that evidence for human-caused global warming was “unequivocal” and was linked to emissions of greenhouse gases, the latest report didn’t seek to address the issue.
The report said, “Global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures during the last three decades have been progressively warmer than all earlier decades, and the 2000s (2000-09) was the warmest decade in the instrumental record.” The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere.
The scientists reported that they were surprised to find Greenland’s glaciers were losing ice at an accelerating rate. They also concluded that 90% of planetary warming over the past 50 years has gone into the oceans. Most of it had accumulated in near-surface layers, home to phytoplankton, tiny plants crucial to virtually all life in the sea.
A new study has found that rising sea temperature may have had a harmful effect on global concentrations of phytoplankton over the past century.
BUT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS VERY ANEMIC ON CONTENT OF ABOVE NEWS – IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, AS MOSTLY ALMOST – GO TO THE FINANCIAL TIMES. HERE YOU FIND FIONA HARVEY’S FULL ARTICLE – SHE CONTRIBUTES TO THE EDITORIAL SECTION AS WELL. YOU WILL BE IN THE CLEAR ABOUT THE MACHINATIONS IN WASHINGTON AS WELL.
You will also see there the Washington rot as in the following: “Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, formerly in charge of energy with the powerful CSIS, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”
You will find that there was no doubt about the implication that it is humans who did it except in the words of that outspoken minority of industry lobbyists that hold power over Washington.
July 28th, 2010 by Fiona Harvey
We think it will – others’ opinions follow:
The New York Times – Eruption Wasn’t That Powerful, but Effects May Linger.
Published: April 15, 2010
The volcanic eruption in Iceland that disrupted air travel in Europe on Thursday was not a particularly powerful one, experts said, but they cautioned that its effects — both on travel and on the regional climate — might linger.
Bill Burton, associate director of the United States Geological Survey’s volcano hazards program, said the current eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier bore similarities to the last eruption there, in 1821. “We seem to be reprising that episode again,” he said.
That eruption continued, on and off, until 1823. While no one can predict how long this one may last, Dr. Burton said, in volcanology, “The past is the key to the present.”
He added, “So if the other eruption lasted for two years, this one might as well.”
While an on-again, off-again eruption might not have much effect on air travel over the long term, it could affect the weather in northern Europe, said Richard Wunderman, a volcanologist with the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. The volcanic plume contains a lot of sulfur, he said, “that can become an aerosol up there that hangs around a long time reflecting sunlight.”
“It’s not enough that it’s probably going to be cooling the whole climate,” he added. On a regional basis, it could also create what is called volcano weather, with smoglike conditions. That is what happened during the eruption of another volcano in Iceland in 1783, which spewed sulfur dioxide and other compounds and created a persistent haze. (Benjamin Franklin, who experienced the haze in Paris during negotiations on the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War, was among the first to draw the link between eruptions and climate.)
Unlike huge volcanic blasts including the one at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, the eruption in southern Iceland began slowly about a month ago, with a series of fissures on the eastern side of the volcano and what volcanologists call fire fountaining, the spewing of hot magma through vents. Dr. Burton said that it was only when the magma found a new route through the volcano earlier this week — shifting to the summit, directly under the glacial ice — that the ash-rich eruption began.
That eruption late Wednesday created a plume of ash that spread out across northern Europe at high altitudes, forcing aviation authorities to ground flights and close airports because of the risk of damage to aircraft, particularly the engines, from abrasive silicate particles.
Dr. Burton said that when the eruption shifted to the summit, there were indications that the silica content of the ash increased. “Theoretically, the more silica-rich the ash, the more risky or greater threat there is,” he said. But any volcanic plume is dangerous. “The plane is effectively sandblasted,” he said. “Even the windows can become frosted.”
Dr. Burton said the eruption ranked low on a measure of power called the volcanic explosivity index, nowhere near Pinatubo, which rated a 6 on the 1 to 8 scale.
The Financial Times playful editorial writes that the Eyjafjallajokull volcano seemingly decided to give Icelanders something else to talk about then the responsibility their three banks had for the start of the financial crisis – the fact that built in problems from the UK and the Netherlands landed on the Iceland management of the banks. Now, their little volcano is sending its ash flying to those two neighboring countries as if it were a revenge. But what may be even a bigger volcano explosion might be if the activity expands to the near by Katla volcano as this happened 200 years ago – so things might get worse before any better.
Does it come down to this – protection of wild species vs. business of the Circumpolar Inuits? Canadian and Greenland Inuits sue the EU over the seal-fur market. Canada went to WTO court to claim interference with trade like they did years ago in regard to lead in unleaded gasoline. At that time they actually won – will they win again this time behind historic rights for an Indigenous People?
Inuit sue EU over seal ban.
Today @ 07:53 CET
Canada’s Tapiriit Kanatami, the country’s national Inuit organisation, the Inuit Circumpolar council and a number of Inuit individuals filed the lawsuit with the European General Court, until this year known as the Court of First Instance, on Wednesday.
The groups will aim to prove that the seal hunt is, contrary to the European legislation’s justification, humane. The suit will also maintain that the hunt is environmentally sustainable and that seals are not endangered.
Calling the EU ban the product of a “shrill campaign” by animal rights “extremists”, Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said: “Inuit have been hunting seals and sustaining themselves for food, clothing, and trade for many generations.”
“No objective and fair minded person can conclude that seals are under genuine conservation threat or that Inuit hunting activities are less humane than those practiced by hunting communities all over the world, including hunters in Europe.”
Ms Simon said the ban was hypocritical, given the industrialisation of European farming in recent decades and the effect that has had on food animal living and slaughterhouse conditions.
“It is bitterly ironic that the EU, which seems entirely at home with promoting massive levels of agri-business and the raising and slaughtering of animals in highly industrialized conditions, seeks to preach some kind of selective elevated morality to Inuit.”
“Despite advance warning by their own lawyers, its EU lawmakers registered no inhibitions about adopting laws that are legally defective,” said Ms Simon.
The Canadian government is also currently challenging the EU seal products trade ban at the World Trade Organisation.
GLOBAL WARMING IGNITES BORDERS AS WELL
By Manuel Manonelles, BARCELONA, (IPS) Posted by Other News January 3, 2009.
Little by little, it is being confirmed that the melting of the polar ice caps, whether in Antarctica or the Arctic, is happening significantly faster than initially predicted. The consequences of this for peace, one of the main victims of climate change, are enormous.
Glaciers and areas of high-altitude mountains that were previously considered zones of perpetual snow are now melting. A paradigmatic case is that of the alpine border between Switzerland and Italy where during a recent routine verification, certain sections of ice or perennial snow that had been on the map since 1861 were found to be missing. In this case, the two countries have enjoyed long periods of peaceful coexistence and are approaching the problem in a logical and cordial fashion, forming a commission to find a technical solution.
However, the possible implications of cases like this in other geographical areas are very worrisome. The destabilising potential of a similar development on the India-Pakistan border would be enormous, particularly in the zone of Kashmir or the Siachen glacier, where more than 3000 soldiers of both countries have died since 1984. The same is true of the tense China-India border, or the deeply problematic border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which will grow increasingly porous with melting, contributing to a rise in destabilisation in what are already two of the most unstable countries on the earth.
Another major effect of global warming is the gradual opening of major global shipping lanes in areas that had previously been impassable because of ice. The Northeast Passage along the north of Russia, used recently for the first time in history, shortens travel between the ports of China, Japan, and Korea and Hamburg, Rotterdam, and South Hampton by 4,000 kilometres. With the Northwest Passage along northern Canada, travel between the China and the ports of the eastern United States is similarly shortened.
The opening of these new routes will completely change the dynamics of intercontinental trade and might render irrelevant places that until now were considered geostrategically essential, such as the Panama and the Suez Canal.
This also explains, in part, the speed with which the European Union is processing the application for EU membership of bankrupt Iceland, which would place the body in the best possible position for future negotiations and territorial claims in the area with regard to future access to the “Arctic banquet”.
It is important to note in this context that the majority of the global population lives in areas close to the sea, starting with megacities like Mumbai, London, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires, and densely-populated areas like the Ganges delta in Bangladesh, where rising sea levels are already wreaking havoc in the form of water pollution and related effects. Recent studies indicate the possibility of some 200 million new environmental refugees in coming years -refugees who would only increase the already considerable humanitarian pressures and tensions in these areas and exacerbate existing or latent conflict.
This and all “other news” issues edited by Roberto Savio can be found at www.other-net.info/index.php
Canada has blocked the EU from participation in the Arctic Council as lacking the geography without Norway or Iceland – so Iceland’s accession is very important to the EU at a time that Arctic riches becomes accessible because of climate change.
But Iceland’s governing coalition is divided over the EU application. The normally euro-sceptic Left Greens gave their okay to moving ahead with negotiations in order to join the government, but much of their membership has not reacted well to the decision and MPs are under pressure from local branches of the party. Some analysts are speculating that it could split the party in two, with the more environmentally minded wing of the party the more pro-EU.
The centre left Social Democratic Alliance and their far-left coalition partners are also split over what attitude to take toward energy-intensive industries and a range of other policy issues. It is far from certain if the government were to fall that any new coalition would continue with the application process.
On Friday, a poll carried out by the Research Center of Bifröst University for the TV channel Stöð Two found that 54 percent of Icelanders now oppose membership while only 29 percent are in favour, with 17 percent uncertain.
The survey suggests that opposition to joining the bloc has hardened in the last few months, as a poll in August had EU supporters on 34.7 percent and opponents on 48.5 percent. In September, another poll put backers of accession on 32.7 percent and opponents on 50.2 percent.
After the crash of Iceland’s three banks people are still very angry. They don’t know who they should be angry at, so the EU, seemingly, has turned into a sort of scapegoat. “There’s anger at everything foreign – the Brits, the Dutch, the IMF, the EU. They make no distinction,” said the Ambassador. “Another opinion says that with the banking collapse, there was a panic. a huge majority wanted to join the EU – now that is gone.” This opinion also says - “If we joined the EU, we would get maybe five MEPs, similar to Malta, and three votes in the Council of Ministers. Our voice just would not be heard there. Our interests would instantly be sidelined by the bigger countries.” Iceland’s main interest is in the fisheries, that provide it with one third of the foreign currency earnings, and the EU might not help in this area.
we posted about the event at www.sustainabilitank.info/2009/06…
now we get further details at www.economist.com/daily/news/disp…
Greenland – Feeling free
Celebrating semi-independence with a feast of whale
Over a breakfast of herring and salmon in the town’s main hotel one could bump into a visiting bishop from Copenhagen bedecked in medallions; Iceland’s affable president; or one of a wide array of Danish royals. We outsiders then took turns trooping through the town’s fish market, gawping at mounds of halibut and at the bloody work of a sealmonger who obligingly butchered a carcass. On the streets the mood was restrained and good-natured, only rising to a murmur of excitement when the official distribution of whale-meat began.
The local government had claimed special dispensation to harpoon two rare Greenlandic whales. One of the pair, it was widely said, had turned out to be 200 years old, although I do not understand just how one determines such a fact: perhaps it is like counting the rings of a felled tree. Officials then handed out two tonnes of the flesh to the 56,000 or so residents of this massive territory. In Nuuk that was a simple matter: whale munchers crowded a sports hall for lunch, then strolled home with meat in bulging plastic bags. But the rest of Greenland is sparsely populated. There are tiny settlements (the smallest has a single inhabitant, a middle-aged man who refuses to move to the nearest town) and small towns spread far north of the Arctic circle and along Greenland’s remote and icy eastern coast. Delivering whale, on time, to the scattered masses looked like an immense bureaucratic task. Local television news reported it was only possible thanks to the many small, red propeller-planes of Air Greenland.
The survival of so many small settlements across the vast country is made possible by the largesse of the Greenland state, which in turn relies on billions of kroner doled out by distant Denmark. That Denmark spends the equivalent of more than $11,000 per Greenlander, each year, might explain why the locals, though delighted to be claiming more powers of self-government, are not yet rushing for complete independence. One afternoon in Nuuk, at a kaffemik, a sort of family party that involves drinking coffee, wine and beer—in this case to celebrate the school graduation of a daughter—guests said that they were thrilled by their new government. But they were also adamant that Greenland could not yet afford full independence. “Not now, it’s good as it is for now,” explained one woman. A visiting Danish journalist said wryly, while sipping a bÃ¢ja pilluarit (celebration beer), “psychologically, the state is my father, you know?”
And yet people feel great pride at Greenland’s taking on more control: over police and the courts, over local government and the schools and dozens more things. Greenlandic is to become an official language, and the nation feels it is making itself noticed on the world stage. “It’s our land, our language. We have to do it ourselves, not rely on others doing it,” explains a woman in national dress wearing white seal boots and trousers. Despite their love of traditions, Greenlanders are under no illusion that they will return to a past of surviving on what they hunt. The celebrations and the food of old will come and go, but nobody will be asked to subsist on seal or whale.
A traditional singer, banging on in the traditional way
So Greenland has a singing prime minister. Mr Kleist is not the only musical politician: one could pull together a decent band with Bill Clinton on sax, Tony Blair on guitar, Madagascar’s young DJ-turned-coup-plotter-turned-president mixing the music backstage and Kim Jong Il on the tambourine. But Mr Kleist is distinct in this way: he leads a tiny country obsessed with producing music, in which music and politics are now swirling together in a heady mix.
At the weekend I spend a couple of hours at Greenland’s main recording studio, Atlantic Music, with its owner, Ejvind Elsner, a large and jovial man who has been producing local bands for two decades. He believes that young musicians are now changing the politics of his country. Before the recent election, opposition parties helped to fund a controversial new album by a band, Liima Inui, which provoked the ire of the old government. “Republik” helped to express public anger with politicians who had been caught fiddling their expenses, and to whip up calls for self-rule.
Mr Elsner claims that he had calls from officials who threatened to close his business, or at least to block access to radio and television, unless the album was scrapped. “You’ll be finished,” warned a leading figure of the old ruling party. Most offensive, apparently, was the idea of promoting “Republik” while the Danish queen visited. Instead the album has become a theme for the celebrations of self-governance Liima Inui, an impressively large group, headlined the main rock concert on the night of the self-governance celebrations.
Perhaps because of those long, dark winters, with so little else to do, Greenlanders have developed a wide variety of music, relative to their small population. The Danes introduced oompah bands, much intoning of hymns and a rural Nordic folk habit of singing jolly stories to each other. But Greenlandic customs are more entertaining. Traditions such as throat warbling (when two young women, typically, stand nose-to-nose and produce a disconcerting wail) and singing along as a seal-skin drum is tapped with a stick, are merging with new forms of Greenlandic pop, rock and hip-hop.
Mr Elsner sees a distinct a Greenlandic sound growing up, perhaps to rival successful recent Nordic musical exports from Iceland (Bjork, for example) and Norway (RÃ¸yksopp). More important, the musicians could play a powerful social role at home. “In future the music will mean a lot more for the people. We used to sing about love; now it is about politics, nature, social problems. People are not great at talking to each other, but they can have a say with music. We have to use the music to overcome our problems.”
Local rappers are most explicit in taking on Greenland’s social difficulties, singing about suicide, sexual abuse and corrupt politicians. There are other serious problems to address: alcoholism has long plagued much of northern Europe, so the governments of Nordic countries have used high taxes and restricted sales to limit binge drinking. The indigenous people of Greenland, the Inuit, are particularly vulnerable to alcohol, but many of the local Danes are equally heavy drinkers. In a society where many rely on funds doled out from Denmark, alcohol is one way to pass the time. But this weekend is not a notably drunken affair. Visiting a couple of Nuuk’s smoky bars nothing more rowdy or aggressive is on show than one might find in London on a Friday evening.
Greenland with its 58,000 people, two traffic lights and great oil potential, wants to become independent – can it or we will see a new environmental major disaster in the making? But there is more to budding cold wars in the Arctic.
GREENLANDERS take another step towards full independence from Denmark on Sunday June 21st, the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. The 56,000 residents will be granted an expanded version of home rule, after a referendum in 2008 showed more than 75% support for the territory taking over responsibility for police, justice and security. In time Greenland, which has been ruled by Denmark since the 18th century and which continues to receive hefty subsidies, is expected to claim status as an independent country. Its large deposits of minerals, including oil and precious stones, could make the sparsely populated land particularly rich.
For background, see article
Fondly, Greenland Loosens Danish Rule
Some of Greenland’s 58,000 people in Nuuk on Sunday at a ceremony giving the country powers of self-governance.
By SARAH LYALL, June 21, 2009
NUUK, Greenland — The thing about being from Greenland, said Susan Gudmundsdottir Johnsen, is that many outsiders seem to have no clue where it actually is.
Related Times Topics: Greenland
“They say, â€˜Oh, my God, Greenland?’ It’s like they’ve never heard of it,” said Ms. Johnsen, 36, who was born in Iceland but has lived on this huge, largely frozen northern island for 25 years. “I have to explain: â€˜Here you have a map. Here’s Europe. The big white thing is Greenland.’ ”
But Greenland, with 58,000 people and only two traffic lights, both of them here in the capital, is now securing its place in the world. On Sunday, amid solemn ceremony and giddy celebration, it ushered in a new era of self-governance that sets the stage for eventual independence from Denmark, its ruler since 1721.
The move, which allows Greenland to gradually take responsibility over areas like criminal justice and oil exploration, follows a referendum last year in which 76 percent of voters said they wanted self-rule. Many of the changes are deeply symbolic. Kalaallisut, a traditional Inuit dialect, is now the country’s official language, and Greenlanders are now recognized under international law as a separate people from Danes.
Thrillingly, the Greenlandic government now gets to call itself by its Inuit name, Naalakkersuisut — the first time in history, officials said, that the word has been used in a Danish government document.
“It’s a new relationship based on equality,” said Greenland’s new, charismatic prime minister, Kuupik Kleist, speaking of the balance of power between Greenland and Denmark.
He compared the situation to a marriage in which the wife was bossing around her henpecked husband. “From today,” he said, “the man in the house has as much say as the wife.”
But this is a delicate time, full of hope and trepidation in equal measure. Few Greenlanders graduate from college. The country is rife with social problems like alcoholism, unemployment and domestic violence. Infrastructure improvements are punishingly expensive and desperately needed in a place where, for instance, people travel by boat or plane because there are no roads connecting towns.
Meanwhile, global warming is rapidly melting the mighty icecap that covers some 80 percent of Greenland’s 840,000 square miles. Although that is destroying traditional hunting livelihoods, it also brings new opportunities for exploring and exploiting what could be vast reserves of oil and minerals deep beneath Greenland’s surface and in the waters around it.
Under the new self-government agreement, Greenland will get half of any proceeds from oil or minerals. The other half will go to Denmark, to be deducted from the grant of 3.4 billion kroner, or $637 million, that it gives Greenland each year. The hope is that eventually the subsidy can cease altogether and Greenland will be ready for independence.
The prospect of Greenland’s benefiting from what may be a lucrative oil and mineral business raises an obvious question: What’s in it for Denmark?
“It’s not a question about money,” the Danish prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said in an interview here. “This is a question of respecting Greenlandic people and giving them the right to decide their own destiny.”
The right to self-determination, particularly for indigenous people like Greenland’s Inuit, more commonly known as Eskimos, was a recurring theme this weekend. Two exotically dressed visitors from Norway’s Sami Parliament, which represents the country’s reindeer herders, appeared at a trade exposition here on Saturday, marveling at how far the Greenlanders had come.
“They’re many steps farther along than we are,” said Marianne Balto, Parliament’s vice president. “It gives hope to the Sami people.”
Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, was there, looking at it from the other side, recalling how his country ended hundreds of years of Danish rule with independence in 1944.
Bent Liisberg, a lawyer from Norway, which was owned for hundreds of years by Denmark and then by Sweden, had much the same perspective. On Sunday, he was carrying a backpack from which protruded a little Greenlandic flag, its red-and-white design representing the sea, sky and sun. “This is a great day for small nations,” he said.
Nuuk is a curious city, where old, brightly colored wooden houses built by the original Danish settlers coexist with rows of down-on-their-heels apartment buildings that are almost Soviet in their soullessness. Its harbor is impossibly quaint and its views breathtakingly beautiful; its center is indifferently maintained and virtually paralyzed by traffic at 8 o’clock every morning, when the workday begins.
It has 15,000 residents, and many seemed to be out and about at 7:30 a.m., when the procession down to the harbor for the self-government celebrations began. It snowed the day before — giving a strange feeling at a time of year when there is virtually no darkness — but on Sunday the sun blazed across the water.
Representatives from 17 countries and territories, including the United States and the Faroe Islands (also owned by Denmark), were there. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, wearing a traditional Inuit costume with shorts made of seal fur and a short, beaded shawl, solemnly handed over the official self-government document to the chairman of Greenland’s Parliament.
For Greenlanders, who can feel like second-class citizens in Denmark, the new arrangement bolsters a national pride they almost didn’t know they had.
“It is nothing that we will feel on a day-to-day basis, but the symbolic value of this gives people so much more confidence,” said Peter Lovstrom, 28, who works at the national art museum in Nuuk.
He said it was impossible to feel rancor toward Denmark, given all of the intermarriage and connections between the countries.
“We all get along. We have to get along,” Mr. Lovstrom said. “But I feel a bit more Greenlandic now.”
Correction: A previous version of this article contained an incorrect amount in Danish kroner for the grant given by Denmark to Greenland each year. It is 3.4 billion kroner, not million.
Arctic nations say no Cold War; military stirs.
Reuters, Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:16pm EDT
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) – Arctic nations are promising to avoid new “Cold War” scrambles linked to climate change, but military activity is stirring in a polar region where a thaw may allow oil and gas exploration or new shipping routes.
The six nations around the Arctic Ocean are promising to cooperate on challenges such as overseeing possible new fishing grounds or shipping routes in an area that has been too remote, cold and dark to be of interest throughout recorded history.
But global warming is spurring long-irrelevant disputes, such as a Russian-Danish standoff over who owns the seabed under the North Pole or how far Canada controls the Northwest Passage that the United States calls an international waterway.
“It will be a new ocean in a critical strategic area,” said Lee Willett, head of the Marine Studies Programme at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in London, predicting wide competition in the Arctic area.
“The main way to project influence and safeguard interests there will be use of naval forces,” he said. Ground forces would have little to defend around remote coastlines backed by hundreds of km (miles) of tundra.
Many leading climate experts now say the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by 2050 in summer, perhaps even earlier, after ice shrank to a record low in September 2007 amid a warming blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on human burning of fossil fuels.
Previous forecasts had been that it would be ice-free in summers toward the end of the century.
Among signs of military concern, a Kremlin document on security in mid-May said Russia may face wars on its borders in the near future because of control over energy resources — from the Middle East to the Arctic.
Russia, which is reasserting itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, sent a nuclear submarine in 2008 across the Arctic under the ice to the Pacific.The new class of Russian submarine is called the Borei — “Arctic Wind.”
Canada runs a military exercise, Nanook, every year to reinforce sovereignty over its northern territories. Russia faces five NATO members — the United States, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Denmark via Greenland — in the Arctic.
In February, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper criticized Russia’s “increasingly aggressive” actions after a bomber flew close to Canada before a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
And last year Norway’s government decided to buy 48 Lockheed Martin F-35 jets at a cost of 18 billion crowns ($2.81 billion), rating them better than rival Swedish Saab’s Gripen at tasks such as surveillance of the vast Arctic north.
Much may be at stake. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated last year that the Arctic holds 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil — enough to supply current world demand for three years.
And Arctic shipping routes could be short-cuts between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in summer even though uncertainties over factors such as icebergs, insurance costs or a need for hardened hulls are likely to put off many companies.
Other experts say nations can easily get along in the North.
“The Arctic area would be of interest in 50 or 100 years — not now,” said Lars Kullerud, President of the University of the Arctic. “It’s hype to talk of a Cold War.”
He said an area in dispute between Russia and Denmark at the North Pole was no bigger than a “grey zone” in the Barents Sea over which Russia and Norway have been at odds for decades and where seismic surveys indicate gas deposits in shallow waters.
“The talk of a new Cold War is exaggerated,” said Jakub Godzimirski, of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. “We have seen a lot of shipping traffic going all over the world without tensions,” he said.
Governments also insist a thaw does not herald tensions.
“We will seek cooperative strategies,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg told Reuters during a meeting of Arctic Council foreign ministers in Tromsoe, Norway.
“We are not planning any increase in our armed forces in the Arctic,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the talks in late April, also stressing cooperation.
“Everyone can make easy predictions that when there are resources and there is a need for resources there will be conflict and scramble,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Stoere said. “It need not be that way.”
Agreeing with them that Cold War talk is overdone, Niklas Granholm of the Swedish Defense Research Agency nonetheless said: “The indications we have is that there will be an increased militarization of the Arctic.”
That would bring security spinoffs. Many may be humdrum — ensuring safety of shipping, or deployment of gear in case of oil spills such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska.
Wider possibilities include a possible race between Russia and the United States for quieter nuclear submarines.
Submarines, which can launch long-range nuclear missiles, have long had a hideout under the fringe of the Arctic ice pack where constant waves and grinding of ice masks engine noise.
“It might lead to a new generation of ultra-silent submarines or other, new technologies,” said Granholm.
Greater access to Arctic resources and shipping is one of few positive spinoffs as climate change undermines the hunting cultures of indigenous peoples and threatens wildlife from caribou to polar bears.
The Northwest Passage past Canada, for instance, cuts the distance between Europe and the Far East to 7,900 nautical miles from 12,600 via the Panama Canal. Similar savings can be made on a route north of Russia.
A U.N. deadline for coastal states to submit claims to offshore continental shelves passed on May 13 and in 2007 Russia planted a flag on the seabed in 13,980 feet of water under the Pole to back its claim.
Russia’s flag-planting stunt might also herald new technologies — the world record for drilling in water depth is 10,011 feet, held by Transocean Inc, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor.
Claims by Norway and Iceland do not extend so far north and Denmark, Canada and the United States were not bound by the deadline.
greenland is The World’s Biggest Island and has 56,000 inhabitants and lots of potential, but does it make sense for them to play at independence? Do They look forward at being swallowed up by some big fish?
Greenland’s future: Divorce up north? Greenland creeps towards independence from Denmark?
THIS week’s referendum in Greenland marks a milestone in the protracted divorce proceedings between the world’s largest island and Denmark, one of its smallest colonial powers. Over 75% of Greenlanders voted to give themselves the right to loosen ties with Denmark by slowly taking control of such areas as security, justice and police affairs. The vote also promises Greenland (population: 56,000) a bigger slice of future profits from minerals, including oil, rubies, gold and diamonds.
Denmark has ruled Greenland since the 18th century. It conceded limited home rule only in 1979 (Greenland chose to leave the then European Community in 1985). The Danes have conceded that Greenland has a right to divorce. But independence may be a dream that the Greenlanders cannot afford. The population is tiny and the problems vast. The main export is fish and a DKr3.4 billion ($590m) annual grant from Denmark pays for public services like education and health care.
Even with the grant, the difference in living standards between Greenland and Denmark is stark. Education is bad, nutrition is poor and problems like alcoholism and child abuse abound. To tackle these problems, Greenlanders would need a bigger source of income than the Danish subsidy, which would presumably be phased out. In theory, this could come from minerals, but exploiting these requires big investment that it might be hard to finance now. Greenland’s west coast may hold more oil than the North Sea, but harsh conditions could push the cost of extraction as high as $50 a barrel.
“Expectations have been unrealistic,” says Jens Frederiksen, leader of the Democrats, the only political party in Greenland to oppose this week’s vote. Soren Espersen, a member of parliament for the Danish People’s Party, is blunter: “Greenlanders have been brainwashed by unprecedented propaganda.”
A Blogger in Romania, Rupert Wolfe Murray, Tells The EU – “TRANSPORT – GO GREEN OR GO UNDER” – But The EU Seems To Think How To Exploit Better The Windfalls From The Melting Arctic. Things Will Get ‘Crazy’ Say Environmentalists.
[Comment] Transport – go green or go under.
EUOBSERVER / COMMENT â€“ Are there any political leaders in the EU who say we must (urgently) move towards renewable-energy-transport and that road-building can no longer be our top transport priority?
The issue is getting urgent and we must prepare for the risk of oil depletion and global warming, which could result in a six-metre rise in sea levels.
(Rupert Wolfe Murray is an independent consultant based in Romania.)
Even a small risk of oil running out should be enough to make us urgently review our transport sector. The economic arguments are powerful: There is big money to be made by “electrifying” Europe’s transport fleets and the car industry is indeed quietly moving towards the electric car. But the political will is missing.
The “Peak Oil Theory” of global oil supplies “peaking” in 2012 was not taken seriously by the mainstream until recently. That attitude is starting to change. Shell Oil recently sponsored an advert in Time Magazine that quoted a former US energy secretary as saying: “We can’t continue to make supply meet demand for much longer. It’s no longer the case that we have a few voices crying in the wilderness. The battle is over. The peakists have won.”
If oil did peak, the consequences for our transport system, food supply and economic system would be devastating. Although there is growing interest in renewable energy, it is still considered somewhat marginal, uncompetitive and untested. There is no sign of a “rush to renewables” that could be compared to the “dash to gas” that took place in the UK during the 1980s. We are still tinkering at the margins.
The EU’s new transport policy must be based upon renewable energy. The first challenge is a conceptual one: People need to understand that a transport system can function on electricity just as efficiently as it now does on oil. The case for a renewable transport system needs to be communicated to the public and a massive investment plan worked out.
It is becoming increasingly clear that a combination of wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power could provide us with a carbon-free power supply. The most exciting developments seem to be taking place in the solar energy industry, where prices are falling rapidly.
A German utility recently commissioned a study into extending the European electrical grid to northern Africa â€“ a potential major supplier of solar energy. Apparently Morocco could provide all of Europe with electricity if three percent of the country was covered with solar panels. Cost is a major barrier here, but if we consider that global companies will spend $3.4 trillion on IT this year according to Gartner, a consultancy, it is clear that the cash is available.
Another barrier to the development of electricity as a replacement fuel is the challenge of storing electricity. The electric car could provide a solution to this problem. The concept is simple: electric cars would charge up at night, when electricity is cheap, and during the day the grid could draw off some electric power from individual cars, when extra power is needed.
According to the Zero Carbon Britain group, if Britain’s car fleet became electric, it would provide the grid with more than enough reserve energy to meet any surges in demand.
Electric cars, bicycles and improved public transport could take care of almost all transport requirements at the urban level. But what about long distance transport? There is talk of biofuel and hydrogen fuelled planes, but the future for these fuels does not look promising.
The train from Naples to New York:
A strong transport policy would confront the energy and transport lobbies and phase out aviation altogether, replacing it with high-speed trains and wind-powered ships. A French train recently broke the 500-km-an-hour speed record.
If the Russians and Americans took the plunge, they could build an “Intercontinental Peace Bridge” across the Bering Straits and it might be possible to one day get a train from Naples to New York.
What about freight? Our economic system has become so dependent on big trucks that it is hard to think what could replace them. Europe’s freight-train infrastructure has become so neglected â€“ with the exception of Germany â€“ that upgrading it would cost trillions of Euros.
But there is another alternative: the airship. Interest in airships is currently growing and scientists say that future “freight airships” could pick up containers directly from a factory yard, fly across the world and deliver inside another factory yard. We need to urgently develop these future forms of transport before it is too late.
Melting ice cap pushes Arctic up EU agenda.
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The rapid melting of the polar ice cap in the Arctic offers Europe a “first-time opportunity” to access new trade routes and massive oil and gas deposits, the European Commission has said – developments that are pushing the EU’s polar strategy up the policy agenda.
Speaking in Ilulissat, Greenland, on Tuesday (9 September) to a conference of the Nordic Council of Ministers dedicated to Arctic issues, the EU’s fisheries and maritime affairs commissioner Joe Borg said: “As the ice recedes, we are presented with a first-time opportunity to use transport routes such as the Northern Sea Route.
“This would translate into shorter transportation routes and greater trading possibilities, and will provide a better opportunity to draw upon the wealth of untapped natural resources in the Arctic,” Mr Borg told the council, an intergovernmental forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries established after the Second World War.
The Nordic Council brings together EU member states Denmark, Finland and Sweden alongside Norway and Iceland – both outside the bloc – as well as the autonomous territories of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Aland Islands.
In his speech, Mr Borg also highlighted a document published earlier this year by the commission jointly with the EU’s chief diplomat, Javier Solana, that mapped out the latest thinking from Brussels on the security implications of climate change.
The seven-page paper authored by Mr Solana and commissioner for external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, distributed to EU government leaders in March, argued that the European Union should boost its civil and military capacities to respond to “serious security risks” resulting from catastrophic climate change.
The paper, Climate Change and International Security, underlined the risks and opportunities presented by the melting Arctic, alongside concerns about increased numbers of migrants, territorial disputes, water shortages in Israel and decreases in crop yields in the broader Middle East. Political radicalisation as a result of climate insecurity, sea-level rises and extreme weather events also present security challenges, according to the report.
Commissioner Borg emphasised the centrality of the Arctic in EU security thinking: “This document highlights the growing geopolitical importance of the Arctic region … [with the] opening up [of] new waterways and international trade routes, and the increased accessibility to the enormous hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic region.
“This accessibility, in conjunction with territorial claims, is changing the geo-strategic dynamics of the region with potential consequences for international stability and for European security, trade and resource interests,” he added.
Later this year, the commission is to present a communication dedicated to the Arctic region that will tackle issues related to climate change as well as regional governance.
The communication is to propose three main actions. Firstly, the commission is to propose measures supporting scientific research and monitoring with the aim of safeguarding the Arctic environment.
The commission is also interested in the exploitation of Arctic resources such as hydrocarbons and other commodities. The commissioner underscored that this must be done in a sustainable manner, but he also said that the communication hopes to outline how all regions that border the Arctic could gain equal access to such bounty.
“We should seek to apply the principles of a level playing field and reciprocal market access in the Arctic,” he said.
The commissioner also said the EU should seek to ensure equal access to any new fishing opportunities via new regulation and work towards an international fisheries conservation and management scheme for the Arctic – something which has never been implemented.
The third element of the commission’s new thinking on the Arctic is developing the governance of the region.
Noting that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and work performed by the Nordic Council, the Arctic Council and other bodies have already played something of a function in this area, the commissioner said: “Nevertheless, we should be open to develop this system further,” he said, adding that international environmental treaties that apply to the Arctic should be revisited.
In June, the Nordic Council published an extensive study of EU-Arctic policies, and called on the bloc to establish a self-standing Arctic-dedicated unit within the European Commission. The document also suggested the EU needed to “establish, intensify and possibly formalise international co-operation with Arctic regional bodies”.
Environmentalists agree with the commission that the melting ice cap is a brute fact and that in the absence of appropriate governance, there could be a â€˜scramble for the Arctic’ without movement by the EU in this direction.
“Done right, it could be a model for oil and gas extraction for the world.”
But green groups are clear that the emphasis should be on sustainable development, rather than the rush for resources.
“On the other hand, if you open up shipping routes, it could have significant global implications.
“The worst-case scenario would be oil spills in the Arctic, which are impossible to clean up, given the conditions there. And a spill in the Arctic would be catastrophic.”
Finally a map of potential National Sovereignty claims of Arctic space. We find this of extreme interest because of the opening for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to claim parts for ‘The Area’, which is administered by the International Seabed Authority on behalf of humanity as a whole.” Our website has written several times on the importance of doing just that.
BBC News – Arctic Map, prepared by Durham University, shows dispute hotspots.
Maritime jurisdiction and boundaries in the Arctic region.
British scientists say they have drawn up the first detailed map to show areas in the Arctic that could become embroiled in future border disputes. A team from Durham University compiled the outline of potential hotspots by basing the design on historical and ongoing arguments over ownership.
The UK researchers hope the map will inform politicians and policy makers.
“To be honest, most of the other maps that I have seen in the media have been very simple,” he added.
Energy security is driving interest, as is the fact that Arctic ice is melting more and more during the summer. Martin Pratt, Durham University.
The team used specialist software to construct the nations’ boundaries, and identify what areas could be the source of future disputes.
“All coastal states have rights over the resources up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline,” Mr Pratt said. “So, we used specialist geographical software to ‘buffer’ the claims out accurately.”
The researchers also took into account the fact that some nations were able to extend their claims to 350 nautical miles as a result of their landmasses extending into the sea.
Back on the agenda:
Mr Pratt said a number of factors were driving territorial claims back on to the political agenda.
“Energy security is driving interest, as is the fact that Arctic ice is melting more and more during the summer,” he told BBC News. “This is allowing greater exploration of the Arctic seabed.”
Data released by the US Geological Survey last month showed that the frozen region contained an estimated 90 billion barrels of untapped oil.
Countries in the area are Russia, Norway, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Canada, the US (Alaska).
We believe that 200 miles sovereignty (that is with exclusion of guaranteed maritime passage rights) from the shores of their land-mass is a foregone conclusion.
Any claims to the extension of those sovereign waters should be rejected. Those further sea-bed rights belong to the
We believe that this is China’s chance to declare its leading role for the 21st century.
The Race For The Polar Black Gold – The Global Warming Age Latest Olympics. This One, So Mr. Harper of Canada Thinks, May Put Canada In A leading Position. But What About The Law Of The Sea and Activities in Extraterritorial Waters? We Said Several Days Ago – We Await China To Say Something On This Also.
Opinion: Polar Race.
Guy Taillefer argues in Le Devoir that the US Geological Survey’s most recent evaluation of the polar depths – that they contain 412 billion barrels of oil, or a third of the planet’s proven reserves – will put additional strain on the already-fragile international understandings with respect to polar sovereignty and development.
The North Pole. Guy Taillefer writes, “Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts … If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases …”
Cut to the quick, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay decreed that the region Russia coveted was “unquestionably” Canadian.
We posted several days ago: “Reuters Reports That China Is Planting its Flag in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions. Actually they started already at least in 2003, so this is not just a reaction to the Russian Flag-posting of August 2007.”
So, face up to it – China is also in this game. And why should not Nauru or Grenada also be entiled to some of the profits? if they cannot afford the expense of drilling – bet you Brazil or Japan, even Korea and India, and who knows who else – can!
OK – Now Let Us Sit Down And Talk. For Once We Are Behind China and Expect The Dragon To Stand Its Ground.
Will Global Warming Make It Possible For The 56,000 Inuits of Greenland to Declare Their Independence. Will Greenland Be Part of the EU or Will It Be Taken Over by an ExxonMobil, Chevron, Husky and Cairn Energy Alliance? The Oil Interests Might Make For A Not So Friendly Divorce From Denmark As A Published Article Seems To Suggest.
The Following just shows how for the many losers from Global Warming there will be also some winners. This change can result not only in wished for positives, but also in potential fights for takeover of the new found wealth.
Reuters Reports That China Is Planting its Flag in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions. Actually they started already at least in 2003, so this is not just a reaction to the Russian Flag-posting of August 2007.
We feel the more countries get involved, the less possibility for a single country grab of the resources will be possible. According to the UN approved “The Law Of The Sea” – those resources belong to all humanity and are extraterritorial to country sovereignty. Multiplicity of contenders may thus pose the needed opposition to one country grab onto these resources, and avoidance of rules of the jungle.
BEIJING, Reuters, July 28, 2008 – China plans to install its first long-term deep-sea subsurface mooring system in the Arctic Ocean, to monitor long-term marine changes, the Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.
The system will collect data on the temperature, salinity and speed of currents at various depths around 75 degrees north in the Chukchi Sea, where Atlantic and Pacific currents converge above the Bering Strait. That will allow studies of the impact on China’s climate of changes in the Arctic, Xinhua said.
The mooring system will be retrieved in 2009.
China is increasing scientific research at both poles at a time when global warming and high resources prices are raising international interest in Arctic and Antarctic territories.
It deployed a 40-day mooring system in the Bering Sea in 2003, and is building a new station at Dome A, the highest point of Antarctica, to study ice cores.
A Russian submersible planted a flag on the seabed of the North Pole last August, setting off a race among northern nations to increase their presence in the polar regions.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2008
Summer ice cover in the Arctic has declined sharply
In Foreign Policy Magazine, an Argument by a Former US Coast Guard Commander – Arctic Warming Could Result In Armed Conflict Unless a Canada-U.S. Agreement Starts Regulating This New Wast Opening Of Economic Potential.
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.
- 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?:
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