The North Pole and the frozen seas within the Arctic Circle are melting. We have been living with this uncomfortable truth for decades now and, whichever side of the climate change debate you come down on, there is no denying that year after year, the ice is retreating and access to this far-lung reach of the globe is becoming more and more feasible.
So what? It’s only more ocean, isn’t it? Well, no. It isn’t. Exposure of the sea bed under the Arctic brings with it access to vital resources, including oil and gas, that have been, until now, locked beneath the ice.
The problem is, who exactly owns this part of the globe? Which power-hungry nation has the greatest claim to these resources? The debate over ownership of the North Pole is shaping up to be a political battleground over the years to come with Russia, Greenland and Canada all eyeing up the Polar region with greedy eyes. Alas for the indigenous Inuit population who are too poor and politically insignificant to be in a position to stake a viable claim, despite being the original human inhabitants.
Who will decide? How can we decide? And even if one country wins, how do you go about policing an area so vast and so inhospitable?
Shouldn’t we be focusing instead on how to reverse this melting rather than squabbling over resources which will only expound the problem if put to use?
In the meantime, we could take a leaf out of Greenland’s book and develop the Arctic as a destination for extreme tourism. While there are still icebergs and polar bears left to gawk at that is.
Link in The Guardian: Fight for Arctic resources