ARCTIC: Food For Thought

March 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment

Avoiding Cold War in a Cold Place

Food for ThoughtOnly eight countries have territory bordering the Arctic Circle: the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia and Denmark (by virtue of its control of Greenland).

Together, these eight form the Arctic Council, an international forum created in 1996 to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the eight Arctic states and also involve the indigenous communities in the High North. Some of the topics of common interest include sustainable development and environmental protection.

In 2011, the eight Arctic Council members completed the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, the first binding treaty concluded under the Council’s auspices.

Rich oil and mineral deposits are believed to lie beneath the Arctic Sea and its underwater coastline. One of the world’s last great fisheries is also in Arctic waters. All of these valuable resources will become more accessible at climate change and other factors melt more and more summer ice in Arctic waters. That will open up sea lanes for transporting cargo and passengers as well as oil and natural gas exploration.


While the Arctic states have worked out agreements dealing with these natural resources little has been done to prevent or adjudicate conflict, says Paul Arthur Berkman, a biological oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Writing in the New York Times opinion pages today (March 14), Berkman says the potential for conflict is high – even if tensions now are low.

“How, for instance, will each nation position its military and police its territory?” asks Berkman, adding: “How will the Arctic states deal with China and other nations that have no formal jurisdictional claims but have strong interests in exploiting Arctic resources?”

It’s an important topic to mull. To read more, click here.


Entry filed under: Arctic, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Washington. Tags: , , , , , , .

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