"For Sale: The Arctic?" or Shifting Maps

With global warming jumping off everyone's tongues these days, you better be sure that the administrations that fervently deny it are gearing up to capitalize on its benefits. The world map we felt, had largely been decided, a few pockets here and there with shifting boundaries: Kashmir, Palestine, the Balkans, the occasional Pacific island, mere pockets in the sweeping map of the world. But with the Arctic ice caps melted: a whole new, massively difficult territorial conflict is cooking in the waters that are melting the glaciers and permafrost. The northern countries with claims near the Arctic circle: Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark (through Greenland) are doing the kind of aggressive maneuvers and territorial disputes not seen in this part of the world since the Vikings and with these countries with each other in a long time. Substantial hydrocarbon reserves beneath the ice as well as shipping rights through the strait, that a few short years ago seemed forever out of reach are now up for serious discussion and substantial posturing. Who owns the land under the Arctic, currently not claimed under any international treaties?

So far the Northwest Passage above Canada (once a myth of adventures, now quickly becoming a reality) is not yet fully operational, but it's damn close and who lays claim to the minerals and oil lay is going to lead for sure to diplomatic spats and perhaps to a bit of saber rattling, to which the Russians have already started planting a Russian flag on the bottom of the sea in what Canada sees as it's territory.

In 2007, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister had this to say:

This is posturing. This is the true north strong and free, and they're fooling themselves if they think dropping a flag on the ocean floor is going to change anything. There is no question over Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. We've made that very clear. We've established - a long time ago - that these are Canadian waters and this is Canadian property. You can't go around the world these days dropping a flag somewhere. This isn't the 14th or 15th century.

Peter MacKay, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Or is it?

Read more on wikipedia about the bureaucratic mess and potential problems the Arctic will pose as global warming speeds up...

Territorial claims in the Arctic

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