Wikileaks: Carving Up The Arctic Sea

By Bhavani Prakash

Arctic Sea Ice Melt Photo: NRDC

Our earlier interview “Pen Hadow: Melting Arctic Sea Ice And How It Will Affect Asia” explained at ground level how the Arctic Sea ice is melting at an alarming rate, and the worrying consequences it has for Asia and the rest of the world – through rising sea levels and increasingly erratic weather patterns.

However, this seemed to be at best a superficial concern for the foreign ministers from the 8 Arctic Council member states – the US, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Russia who congregated in Nuuk, Greenland on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 to sign a treaty on international search-and-rescue in the Arctic.

According to Greenpeace USA:

New revelations by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks show how the scramble for resources in the Arctic is sparking military tension in the region – with NATO sources worried about the potential for armed conflict between the alliance and Russia.

The release of previously unpublished US embassy cables also shows the extent to which Russia is maneuvering to claim ownership over huge swathes of the Arctic, with one senior Moscow source revealing that a Russian explorer’s famous submarine expedition to plant a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole was ordered by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

One cable details the lengths to which the U.S. is going to carve out a strong position in Greenland, and the concerns Washington has over Chinese maneuvering on the Danish autonomous island.

The following BBC news clip shows how major nations are taking strategic positions concerning possible resources such as oil and other precious mineral resources beneath the Arctic sea ice floor. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton mentions the likelihood of increased fishing, shipping and tourism as well as the ‘possibility’ of finding oil and gas reserves.
Video link here

The irony is that big oil is one of the important factors behind global warming – through direct emissions of CO2, as well as intense lobbying against firm action on climate change. They would again be the first to gain in the mad scramble for oil under the Arctic sea bed.

According to Greenpeace oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe:

These latest Wikileaks revelations expose something profoundly concerning. Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, the leaders of the Arctic nations are instead investing in military hardware to fight for the oil beneath it. They’re preparing to fight to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.

Where there should be utter seriousness about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, greed is once again taking over. In all the talk about peak oil, the problem is not that the planet has too little oil, but that it has too much. If we were to burn all the known reserves of oil and coal, it would lead to a 4 to 8 fold increase in C02 levels.

We do not need new sources of oil, we need smarter ways to power the world. Newer trade routes propelling the same old industrial model of consumption and fuelled by the same old destructive energy sources will only lead to further environmental degradation in one of the last pristine frontiers of the planet, apart from exacerbating the biggest threat facing humanity – climate change.

Further links you may be interested in:

EWTT: Pen Hadow: Melting Arctic Sea Ice and How It Will Affect Asia

EWTT: Contraction & Convergence: An urgent global imperative to tackle Climate Change

Greenpeace: Fossil Fuels and Climate Protection


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Posted by on May 14 2011. Filed under Climate Change, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Wikileaks: Carving Up The Arctic Sea”

  1. Perhaps each of us needs to keep doing exactly what we are doing now, as best we can, inasmuch we are given the ‘lights’ to see. That is to say, we keep helping people understand science regarding both the placement of the human species within the natural order of living things and whatsoever could be real about the world we inhabit. After all, we are faced with having to acknowledge the all-too-probable fact that the gigantic size and monstrous impact of the human species in our time is casting a giant shadow over the surface of Earth and can be seen recklessly extirpating global biodiversity, irreversibly degrading the enviroment and relentlessly denuding the Earth of its resources on our watch.

    The lack of intellectual honesty, moral courage and personal integrity by many too many with appropriate expertise could result in humankind inadvertently precipitating the ruination of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation. We have to stop thoughtlessly chattering in public discourse about nothing more or less than what what the owners of the mass media agree is OK to say, and start speaking “truth to power.”

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