Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Race For The North Pole

As climate change liberates the Arctic Ocean from ice, it is also triggering a race to claim the ownership of natural resources. First Russia, and now Denmark, the United States and Canada are launching geological expeditions to support their claims. Their calculation: If the polar ice cap melts, they will get access to massive oil and gas reserves.

When Arthur Chilingarov, a member of the Russian parliament, rammed his country's flag into the ocean floor at the North Pole in a spectacular submarine dive three weeks ago, the other countries whose territory abuts the North Pole suddenly went into high gear. The Russian effort was meaningless under international law, but its symbolic value was immense.

The awakening giant, its growing power based on vast reserves of natural resources, was asserting its claim to ownership of a vast stretch of the Arctic Ocean covering 1.2 million square kilometers (463,323 square miles). But Canada, the United States, Norway and especially Denmark, as the country that controls Greenland, are also claiming large sections of the sea. Could this be the beginning of a new cold war in the Arctic Ocean?

If it is, the geologists will be playing a key role. The most important question they'll have to answer is this: What country does the Lomonosov Ridge connect to? The 1,800-kilometer (1,118-mile) undersea mountain range stretches from Siberia, across the North Pole, and to the shores of Greenland. But which continental shelf does it connect with -- Russia's or Greenland's?

Christian Marcussen, who heads a team from the Danish Geological Service in Copenhagen says he can prove, with their seismic tests, that the ridge is part of the Greenland continental shelf, the kingdom could expand its claims of sovereignty beyond the current limit, which extends to 200 nautical miles off the Greenland coast. Meanwhile, the Russians are busy trying to prove that exactly the same thing holds true at the other end of the Lomonosov Ridge -- that it connects to Russian territory.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen shed plenty of crocodile tears last week when he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to lament Greenland's melting glaciers. In truth, though, the nations bordering the Arctic are just waiting for the North Pole to finally become ice-free. Global warming is likely to do them the favor, and even faster than was previously thought.

"Within 20 years we'll be able to travel by ship in the summer from Spitzbergen (a Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean) across the North Pole to Asia," predicts Heidemarie Kassens, a scientist who specializes in the study of ice at the Leibnitz Institute of Marine Sciences in the northern German city of Kiel. His predictions may prove to be wrong but one thing is for sure, for Russia, as well as for the other four countries bordering on the Polar region, the melting sea ice will open up an incredible treasure: unimagined quantities of natural resources, especially oil and natural gas. Scientists believe that a quarter of all undiscovered hydrocarbons worldwide lie hidden beneath the icy sediments of the Arctic Ocean. Find out more about this "new frontier" at:

Research info gathered from:

Now here's some poems that will melt in your glass:

Utopia, Considering The Alternatives

In this scenario the leg you see is Virginia Woolf's in a fancy
detox clinic where visitors bring along their own interpreters.

Every yellow taxi is driven by a foreigner who fails to get you
back to '68 on time. The whole world lives in a bad part of

town. Hoodlums roam the streets hoping to steal every letter
out of the alphabet-soup and then sell them later as possible

landscaping shrubs. Hemingway has writer's block and you
can count at least a dozen Liberace lookalikes in the steam

room. There is a french flag flying from an anti-Vichy pole.
The calamine lotion you thought would work only screws up

the dog's psyche or the girl's allergy has a thing for the scent
of daffodils. We try to witness ten minutes of patriarchy but

loose interest after the first red rocket's glare. Instead, we
practice five new ways to do the Twist in bed and put on our

futuristic sunglasses in an effort to psychoanalyze the meaning
of "spare time". She ends up becoming a jack-o'-lantern with

a candle glowing inside. I turn out to be a flat-foot cop with a
nondescript nightstick. We could live happily ever after if it were

not for the fact that in less than twenty minutes we have to decide
which we like best, the words or the music.

Making A Molehill Out Of A Mountain

The angel-parts arrived in a standard cardboard box marked
on one side with small black type that simply said "Made In

China". The pieces were numbered and wrapped in cellophane
but unassembled. Directly on top the wings had been placed,

all thickly-feathered in a heavenly gray. I admit, I was somewhat
taken aback by the color (I expected them to be pure white).

But by far my most startling discovery of all was that the
container lacked any packing instructions. Had logic been

disguised as illogical this error would have been OK. Even if
my heart's pistol had been crocked with the safety lock on I could

have figured out what went where. But my margin never never to
me from afar. Now almost two weeks later, the delicate arms,

legs, and that gorgeous halo still lay in a pile on the hardwood
floor on the right-hand side of the hallway coat rack.

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