Good News for the Arctic


B. McPherson
The Arctic and Antarctic are Earth's air conditioners.
The European Parliament passed a resolution on March 12 to promote better protection of the north Polar region. Part of the resolution recommends a sanctuary in the Arctic Ocean around the N. Pole. It recommends limits on commercial fishing and also means to keep oil pollution from the pristine waters.
There is no enforcement of this resolution, but it points out the concern that more people each day have over the fate of the polar region.

Keeping the oil rigs out of the Arctic will be difficult. There is likelihood that huge oil reserves lie under the Arctic Ocean. Oil exploration has been taking place in Greenland’s territorial waters as well as offshore Alaska and Russia. Last year Greenpeace activists attempted to board an oil platform in Russian controlled waters and were arrested and held in a Siberian jail before being moved to St. Petersburg jails. Eventually they were released when the world became outraged at their treatment.

A hungry world has been eyeing the rich fishery that would be possible in the Arctic as the ice-cap melts. Overfishing in much of the world has depleted traditional fishing grounds, but ice cover has protected the biota in the north.

While the ice shield over the Arctic Ocean has kept those bent on exploitation out until now, the warming planet is gradually eroding the shield. In the past, the extreme cold has protected the area. Now, as the ice retreats further each summer, new laws to protect the area will become mandatory.

It is not just those countries that border the polar region and claim sovereignty. China has been positioning itself to cash in on the bounty. They are calling themselves a “near Arctic” country. Increasingly, cargo is being sent through the frigid northern ocean.

China has won a seat at the Arctic Council which gives their opinion with regard to policy some weight. They are making claims to share in the ownership of the area, a claim that may become a future flashpoint.

Arctic resources, in my opinion, will be allocated according to the needs of the world, not only owned by certain countries,” Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “We cannot simply say that this is yours and this is mine.”

Opinion:  I live in one of the polar countries. In fact Canada is often referred to as The Great White North. It would set an extremely dangerous precedent for a policy like the Chinese are proposing where territorial ownership is ignored in favour of a more needy population. For instance Canada and Greenland(Denmark) could be elbowed aside to allocate more resources to highly populated countries to exploit resources. Egypt would have a greater need for the Arctic resources than Greenland or Norway. And India and Pakistan could trump Russia.

The same principle could apply to China’s greater needs for agricultural land.

This sounds irrational to me, but China is moving ahead at warp speed on this issue. They have an operational ice-breaker, Snow Dragon, and have traversed the Arctic Ocean with it. A second ice-breaker is in the works. Interest in oil and mining companies in Canada have been acquired and oil exploration rights have been acquired in Iceland’s territory.



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