Saturday, April 05, 2008

Who owns the Arctic?

Printed on the floor of the main hall - yards from a baggage carousel featuring a stuffed polar bear hunting a stuffed seal - there is a map of the northern hemisphere, with the North Pole at its centre: a view from the top of the globe.

It is jolting to look at the world this way, instead of in the normal school-textbook fashion, with America on the left and Australia on the right. You realise how nearly Russia touches the US at the 52 mile-wide Bering Strait; how Europe is even closer to North America at the point where Canada meets Greenland. And then, encircled by the various Arctic nations, there is the polar region itself, not on the fringes or sliding out of view at the top of the map, but unmistakably central, and breathtakingly huge: a pristine wilderness, or, from another point of view, a treasure too tempting to resist.

From an interesting article
on the Arctic and the big race to get at its resources.

As an apropos, if you're in London today, don't forget the SPGB meeting on the politics of climate.

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