Sunday, March 25, 2007

Who owns the North Pole ?

An article about one of the lesser discussed effects of the global warming .

It could open the North Pole region to easy navigation for five months a year, according to the latest Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, an intergovernmental group. That could cut sailing time from Germany to Alaska by 60 percent, going through Russia's Arctic instead of the Panama Canal.

Or the Northwest Passage could open through the channels of Canada's Arctic islands and shorten the voyage from Europe to the Far East.

And provide easier routes to Arctic areas that the U.S.Geological Survey estimates holds as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas and Russia reportedly claims its slice of the Arctic sector possesses a potential in minerals approaching $2 trillion.

And the geo-political effect - a scramble for sovereignty over these suddenly priceless seas.

" We all realize that because of global warming it will suddenly be an area that will become more accessible" said Peter Taksoe-Jensen, head of the Danish Foreign Ministry's legal department.
Norway and Russia have issues in the Barents Sea; the U.S. and Russia in Beaufort Sea; the U.S. and Canada over rights to the Northwest Passage; and even Alaska and Canada's Yukon province over their offshore boundary. Canada, Russia and Denmark are seeking to claim waters all the way up to the North Pole, saying the seabed is part of their continental shelf under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Norway wants to extend its claims on the same basis, although not all the way to the pole.

Canada and Denmark have both staked their claim to Hans Island , half-square-mile of barren uninhabited rock, just one-seventh the size of New York's Central Park, wedged between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Danish-ruled Greenland , at the entrance to the Northwest Passage , with flags and warships.

Canada says the Northwest Passage is its territory, a claim the United States hotly disputes, insisting the waters are neutral. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged to put military icebreakers in the frigid waters "to assert our sovereignty and take action to protect our territorial integrity."

Russia contests Norway's claims to fish-rich waters around the Arctic Svalbard Islands, and has even sent warships there to underscore its discontent with the Norwegian Coast Guard boarding Russian trawlers there. "Even though they say it is about fish, it is really about oil,"

In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the sovereignty issue "a serious, competitive battle" that "will unfold more and more fiercely."
Capitalism - cut-throat competition

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