Polar Peril

As if the polar bears didn’t have enough things to worry about.

Business Week reports that Russia entertains high hopes for the North Pole and the better part of the Arctic Shelf, where Russian officials look forward to some day reaping vast reserves of gas and oil buried therein.

That shelf is right now divvied up into more-or-less equal shares among Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States. The hypothetical map looks something like this:

Arctic Shelf

Arctic Shelf

 Or, more precisely, some say it looks like this. Russia would like to increase its share by a good 463,000 square miles, an area three times the size of Germany. Artur Chilingarov, speaking on behalf of the Russian government, puts it thus:

“I will say it outright- we [Russia] will not give the Arctic shelf to anybody else… Canada or the United States may not like this… but this is my stance. It is historically our [Russian] shelf.”

Because most of it is supposedly Russia’s, Medevedev called for a new Arctic agreement last September – presumably one that gives Russia the lion’s share of ice. Medvedev clearly has some serious interest in this venture, because Chilingarov said further that Russia will keep up exploration of the region the global financial crisis notwithstanding: “The research will continue independently from the economic situation, because this is our future.

It’s obvious that Medvedev and company, who oversee a national economy that lives and breathes on the drilling and exporting of oil and gas, want to scout out new drilling sites in the polar regions.

This should be very worrisome news for environmentally conscious news readers the world over. Any oil industry takes a toll on environments near and far, to be sure. But Russia, in particular, can be a rough steward ecologically speaking. Look no further than Siberia, the tundra definitely in its grasp; Russia’s treatment of this patch of earth has been, well, less than stellar.

Might Mededev and company not supplement their fossil-fuel ambitions with some far cleaner ambitions of nuclear/solar/geothermal utilities? Time will tell how things unfold, for Russia and for the Arctic both.

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One Response to “Polar Peril”

  1. Polar Peril | Denmark Blogs Says:

    […] See original here:  Polar Peril […]

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