As North Pole goes iceless, scramble for resources feared

June 29th, 2008 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, June 29 (IANS) The North Pole faces the prospect of becoming iceless this summer for the first time in history, scientists warn. They warn that since global warming has caused the thick, long-term layers of ice to disappear from the North Pole, the seasonal ice it receives during winter months has also been melting fast, with the last summer being a record ice loss year.

They fear the prospect of seasonal ice disappearing altogether this summer, leaving the North Pole iceless for the first time in history.

As the Arctic ice melts, many global experts also fear a scramble among Arctic nations - Canada, Russia, the US, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Finland, Iceland and Denmark - for control of its resources such as oil and gas, minerals and fresh water.

A report by the Arctic Council, which has all eight Arctic nations as its members, has warned of a `no-holds-barred’ scramble for Arctic resources unless they reach some agreement on safety and environmental issues.

The report, prepared by 40 experts from six countries, also feared militarization of the Arctic as different nations fortify their claims to its resources.

All Arctic nations have to submit their claims by 2013 to the UN which will then decide by 2020 which nation controls what parts of the Arctic bed.

But the expert report said the agreement might be far away, warning “This is a world in which many international players anxiously move to outwit competitors and secure tomorrow’s resources today. Political tensions are high and brinksmanship is the name of the game.”

To safeguard its future interests, Canada has decided to station eight naval ships and build a navy and an army base in its Arctic region. The Americans have already held military exercises in Alaska, and the Russians too plan to flex their military muscle very soon.

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