A melted arctic: gold mine or honey trap ?

A melted Arctic: gold mine or honey trap?

Andrew Marszal

3rd November, 2009

As the melting Arctic ice cap opens a new ocean to the world, governments and private speculators are rushing to cash in on lucrative resource deposits and shipping lanes. But they may find these virgin waters a dangerous place to do business…

When the U.N. Conference on Climate Change convenes in Copenhagen next month, one inconvenient truth little discussed will be the benefits Arctic nations – including the Danish hosts – stand to gain from global warming.

It has become generally accepted that, as ice starts to cover less and less of the north pole each year, an emergent new ocean will offer prospects of untold mineral resources and unparalleled access to distant markets via new, shorter shipping routes.

Numerous recent reports have made startling predictions regarding the rate of this ice break-up. Last month, introducing the results of the Catlin Arctic Survey, Professor Wadhams of the University of Cambridge declared a new consensus that ‘the summer ice will disappear within twenty to thirty years’, with most of that melt occurring in the next ten.

He went on to say, ‘That means you’ll be able to treat the Arctic as if it were essentially an open sea in the summer and have transport across the Arctic Ocean’.

A brave – or foolish – new world?

Though the ice certainly is thinning and receding rapidly, politicians…

 

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