Arctic geopolitics explored in a U.S. News article

There is nothing like a weekly news magazine to explore the breadth and depth of an issue, as U.S. News and World Report has done in a story titled “Global Warming Triggers an International Race for the Arctic.”

The magazine piece, written by Thomas Omestad, discusses a treasure of oil and minerals, scientific discoveries, commercial potential and possible geopolitical clashes. I recommend it to anyone interested in the confluence of global warming and international intrigue.

A map of this remote area shows how the legendary Northwest Passage could become an important route between the East and West coasts.

After describing some strategic flurries in the Arctic by Russia and Canada, Omestad offers this observation:

The United States, for its part, has not acted with the same urgency. “We are behind when it comes to what is happening with our other Arctic neighbors,” says Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The lagging begins with the Law of the Sea convention. Despite Bush administration support, Senate ratification of the 1982 treaty remains blocked by conservative Republicans fearful that the treaty will give away American sovereignty. The other four Arctic coastal states have adopted the convention and are eligible to file their claims for economic control.

The Pentagon has also appeared slow to focus on the region. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains just two working icebreakers, with another docked until repairs are authorized. The question of expanding the icebreaker force has been left unanswered, while a broader, interagency review of Arctic policy has continued for nearly two years….

I recently cited some sketchy stories about this subject on Watching Our Water Ways. Now this U.S. News article has placed the issue into the appropriate context. If the prescribed dominoes begin to fall, international tensions will no doubt rise in this remote part of the Earth.

One thought on “Arctic geopolitics explored in a U.S. News article

  1. If there is a lot of open (ice-free) sea in the Arctic Ocean, as there may have been 6000-7000 years ago, things could get interesting.

    Take a look at this recent article about sea ice conditions way back then:

    Have you heard of any other evidence of ice-free conditions that long ago? I recall driftwood in an inlet that was carbon-dated to about 3000-4000 years ago after an ice shelf broke off and the researchers wondered how long it had been since the inlet was blocked by the ice shelf.

    Despite all the talk of past conditions, I don’t recall having seen any sort of reconstructed timeline indicating when there were warmer or colder eras in the Arctic Ocean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here: