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Global Powers Rush to Exploit Arctic Resources

September 24, 2012
Plain English Version

A new race is going on  in the Arctic, where climate change is melting ice and revealing oil, gas and minerals. Experts say that more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in the Arctic. The world’s super powers are preparing to get as much access to these riches as possible.

The Unites States, Russia and much of Northern Europe have Arctic territories already. China does not, but is now using its wealth to secure its future in the area.

The political body that deals with the territory is the Arctic Council whose members include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

The European Union, Japan and South Korea are trying to obtain permanent observer status at the Arctic Council. This would allow them to be present but not to vote. China is also trying to become a member. It says, the Arctic is “the inherited wealth of all humankind.”

Of special interest is Greenland, part of Denmark. The retreat of its icecap shows mineral deposits, including rare earth metals used in cellphones. At one point this summer, 97 percent of the surface of Greenland’s massive ice sheet was melting. Right now, not much is going on. Greenland has only one working mine. More than 100 new sites are being mapped out.

Oil and gas companies are continuing exploring in Alaska, Canada and Norway. The opening of shipping lanes will make the Arctic easy to get to. Scientists say Arctic waters could be ice-free in summer by the end of the decade.

This is going to be a big story.

The New York Times

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