Sunday, July 29, 2007

Russia Claims the Oily North Pole

While the American political establishment tinkers with fantasies of the natural past, the rest of the world has no intention of remaining poor and impoverished. Burning plants for energy is the habitat destructive past we are liberated from by coal and oil and gas. The gift of prosperity is not taken for granted by those lacking our first world lives.

Race To The North Pole: With a nuclear-powered icebreaker, two vast research ships, and 130 scientists, Russia's biggest-ever scientific expedition has set sail for the North Pole. … Russian scientists hope to bolster Russia's claim on 1.2 million square kilometers of Arctic territory, which Russia estimates to contain at least 10 billion tons of oil and natural-gas reserves.

The Arctic and Antarctica are the last vast untapped reservoirs of mineral resources on the planet. Underneath the Arctic Ocean, there are gigantic reserves of tin, manganese, nickel, gold, platinum, and diamonds. … But the Arctic's most lucrative treasure is the enormous deposits of oil and gas, which could amount to 25 percent of the world's resources.

Russia hopes to win back the North Pole: Strictly speaking, Russia claims a triangle-shaped area of the Arctic Ocean; its base includes the Russian coast from the Kola Peninsula in the west to the tip of the Chukotka Peninsula in the east, across the Bering Strait from Alaska. The apex is the North Pole. This triangle covers 1.2 million square kilometers, an area the size of Italy, Germany and France put together. Generally speaking, we have always considered it our own. Starting in the 1920s, this sector was marked as Soviet and later Russian territorial waters on all the country's maps.

At least, this was the case before the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea limited us to a 200-mile economic zone along our coast. Having ratified it in 1997, we immediately lost our right to the rest of the Arctic Ocean, including our chunk of the North Pole. … Though Russia has lost that right, we can still try and get it back. The same convention gives us a chance. If we prove that the shelf - the oceanic Lomonosov ridge - is a continuation of the Siberian continental platform, we can practically have the whole lot to ourselves.

So the Russians are formally appealing to the United Nations to negate their signature on the Law of Sea Treaty and then verify their claim on the undersea floor of the Artic Ocean. If the U.N. fails to acquiesce does anyone believe a force of blue diving helmeted peace keepers will be sent to enforce decision?

Where is inflated outrage from The Sierra Club and Greenpeace and PIRG at this Russian expansionism into pristine wilderness? Where is the environmentalist demand that the Sea Shepherd Fleet be sent in to halt the activities of the Russian Navy? Really, sail some rubber dingeys up to a nuclear powered ice breaker and demand they retreat for the sake of the polar bears and caribou. Please.