"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Oct 28, 2008

What future for Arctic nations?

Reading the latest reports about record Arctic ice shrinkage and disappearing Arctic ice sheets on the BBC leaves me wondering about the future of the Arctic region and the relations between those states that border this de-frosting wilderness.
A little while back the BBC also did a news report on a new map showing the claims by various nations on the Arctic region. What is striking about this map are the enormous potential claims that countries such as Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway have over the Arctic Region. The potential claims by the US are in comparison extremely small.

The second thing apparent from the map is just how much of the Arctic area is likely to be the subject of competing claims. with potential disputes among many of the potential claimants.

Historically most of the countries involved in the Arctic have treated the area as somewhere primarily to be explored and to some extent protected. The USA and Russia both engaged in some military manoeuvring in the region but there was little direct hostility.

The prospect of the Arctic becoming essentially open navigable water for large parts of the year however seems likely to change all this. Oil, mineral supplies and fish stocks will continue to be in great demand but are dwindling elsewhere. As a result the potential exploitation of the Arctic area now seriously beckons the countries that fringe the area.

The stakes will be high not only for the countries involved but also for the fragile wildlife. Canada and Russia both appear to have already woken up to the changes that are taken place. The Russians planted a flag on the sea bed under the Arctic ice sheet to show their claim and the Canadians have been more forcefully patrolling their once frozen waters and the now increasingly open North West Passage.

Claims on mineral and other commodities are not all that is at stake. In an era when transport costs are significant the prospect of using the Arctic waters as a shorter route between countries is enticing. But who will control these routes?

In military terms each country will start to become nervous if others start to actually develop any size of operational base in the claimed regions. Again this arises because of the shorter travelling distances involved.

In short it would appear that the Arctic region has all the seeds sown ready for conflict to spring up between the nations that have claims in the area. How long it will be before serious conflict does occur? Or will the nations involved manage to accommodate to each other and ensure that any development protects the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic?


Looney said...

Comparing the potential territorial disputes to some of the ongoing ones, this doesn't actually look all that bad. There are already fusses between Japan/Russia, Japan/China/Taiwan and China/Vietnam/Philippines that seem worse, not to mention India/Pakistan, Iraq/Kuwait and Iraq/Iran. The UN diplomats gotta earn their income somehow, don't they? ;-)

rummuser said...

Well said looney! Actually, who knows what our grand children will find under all that ice that may put food on their plates and perhaps fuel in whatever vehicle that they will be using then!

Defrosted Bunc said...

Just to give you some further information to ponder on about sea ice trends in the Arctic you might want to check out this link;
Arctice sea Ice cover trends

Defrosted Bunc said...

And here is another interestng one
Actic and antarctic sea ice trends

rummuser said...

bunc, for the first time in my life, I am glad that I am an old man!

Looney said...

Bunc, thanks for the links.

My main problem isn't so much the short few years of data, as the conclusion that is being drawn from the data: a) capitalism is the sole cause of global warming. b) the only way to reverse global warming is to redo the cold war, declare collectivism to be the true winner, and put paleo-leftist and other intellectual troglodytes in charge of government, industrial policy, courts, etc., etc.

If people truly are worried about global warming, wouldn't they just propose firing cruise missiles at oil platforms and coal mining infrastructure instead?

Livingsword said...

Well really there is no need for conflict Canada’s northern islands they may have people trying to grab at them but they are clearly our islands as per this map…


These boundaries are also recognized by the UN…

While it is true that parts of these areas are currently becoming more accessible for a greater portion of the year it is still quite inhospitable. Many of the resources are still very challenging to extract….

Green Bunc said...

1) There is longer term trend data available.

2) "the conclusion that ... capitalism is the sole cause of global warming."

Thats not the cnclusion that I have heard drawn by most people so that's a bit of a straw man.

The primary conclusion is that there is a link to CO2 levels in the atmosphere. From this ( and other data) arises the conclusion that man made CO2 production is a significant factor. From this arises the conclusion that we must significantly control CO2 production.

3)"the only way to reverse global warming is to redo the cold war, declare collectivism to be the true winner, and put paleo-leftist and other intellectual troglodytes in charge of government, industrial policy, courts, etc., etc."

eh? More straw men lined up by you for you to knock down I think.

Collectivism versus capitalism is an irrelevance. The issue is whether the technologies that we use to run our lives are contributing to or helping us to resolve the problem.

This is ENTIRELY an issue about our technological base. There is significant work going on for example in the US re much more efficient solar power collectors that holds out great promise.

However it doesnt much matter whether this is invented by ardent capitalists or radical collectivists -- as long as we get this type of technology and start massively using it.

The major issue we face is moving from fossil fuel dependant societies to societies which maximally use renewables.

Both Capitalist and Socialist countries face this issue. If we fail to address the issue then we are leaving nothing but a wasteland to our grandchildren.

You may relish the idea of "End of Days" - I don't. I would like my grandchildren to have a happy and comfortable life and not live in a world where the ecosystems have been destroyed and the climate has become chaotic.

Bunc said...

Livingsword - you probably know better than me but that has already been rising tension between the US and Canada over arctic waters.

Looney said...

"Thats not the cnclusion that I have heard drawn by most people so that's a bit of a straw man."

Bunc, certainly I expressed it a bit, um, coarsely. But it does seem to me that all the solutions proposed so far boil down to heavy handed regulation and picking favored technology to invest in by elites. Both solar and bio-fuels end up indirectly burning fossil fuels which may or may not exceed the amount of fossil fuels saved. It is impossible to know when governments are doling out money.

I worked at a government R&D laboratory for several years, and you really don't want to know what their notions of hard work and efficiency are!

Livingsword said...


There are always going to be trifles between friends but really the arctic situation between the US and Canada is not a major problem. We have sovereignty in the northwest passage and always have…It would be like us claiming Alaska…However an Obama victory may be a bit problematic as he is very protectionist and unfamiliar with the United States major trading partner…Canada, and has said he will use his proposed possible end of NAFTA as a hammer on Canada but I am not sure if he is quite that foolish…A possible McCain victory will turn down the volume on this issue as he has said that he has no issue with NAFTA or our sovereignty in the north…If they want our oil most of it is in Alberta….

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