Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Pulling the Wishbone

With the Arctic generally agreed to be warming up dramatically, the only question that can really be of interest to serious people is "Who gets to cash in?"

After all, there could be huge amounts of fossil fuel up there. And just think of all the problems that would solve!

Driven by that inexorable logic peculiar to dreamers and lunatics, a number of countries are jockeying for position in the melting Arctic, asserting territorial claims, and - inevitably - rattling sabers:

One Canadian diplomat says: "To stake a territorial claim, you must be able to demonstrate you can actively patrol and enforce it, if necessary militarily."
How true that is. And indeed, it may well be that if Canada wants to exploit whatever's left of the Arctic, it'll have to pry it out of Denmark's cold, dead fingers:
"The North Pole is one of the only virgin territories left on the globe," says Torquil Meedon, a senior official at Denmark's ministry of science and technology. "Climate changes indicate that ice in the Polar Sea may disappear within 50 to 100 years....Who knows how valuable the rights to the North Pole could be 100 years from now?"
This completely irrational conflict, the preparations for which are based on blithe acceptance of an environmental and social catastrophe whose ultimate negative effects no one can reliably gauge, reminds me of a wishbone being pulled. The meal has been eaten, the bones have been gnawed, and now its time to see who'll get the bigger part of the wishbone, and have his or her dreams come true.

I try to remain positive, but I really don't think that a new round of bellicose geopolitical squabbling is the proper response to global warming. This is simply not how rational people act.


JMS said...

One can only imagine a world where the Arctic is verdant grassland, ice cubes up and floated off, gone south for the summer.

We'll be able to rename the world "Greater Venice".

And all the nuclear poison that is buried in my home state near hanford, washington will be free floating in the newly expanded (and presumably more valuable) oceans.

Phila said...

Yeah, good old Hanford...don't get me started.