Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Battle of the Arctic

It's going to take more than a handful of light icebreakers to fight, much less win this one.

British and American submarines have now taken up permanent station under the Arctic ocean in preparation to confront their old adversary, the Russian navy. Russia, for its part, is building one new submarine and has ordered three more, as it brings its badly neglected navy back online.

Everyone's eyes are on what is believed to be the vast, untapped oil wealth beneath the Arctic waters. With the ascendancy of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) an enormous demand for oil is developing. These same Arctic waters, soon to be ice-free for much of the year, are also believed to have rich fish populations and enormous, sub-surface mineral wealth.

Russia is now using a mini-sub to try to establish that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of the Siberian continental shelf and, therefore, Russian territory. This would allow Russia to claim an area of the Arctic equal in size to Western Europe.

Both Canada and Denmark claim the Lomonosov Ridge is attached to their own undersea shelves and therefore belongs to them. Claiming it and enforcing those claims are two distinct matters and neither of these minor countries would be wise to count on much support from Britain or the US. (If you don't think we're a "minor" country in this thing, think again).

Many scientists believe the Arctic ecology too fragile to sustain economic exploitation. They're probably right but there's far too much potential wealth involved to stop what has already well begun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How stupid are those money dastards attall... and "dastards" they are. Enna