Land rush

By Amy // Friday 5 Oct // 11:37:38 // No Comments

Speaking to you from the Arctic – LAND RUSH

As we boarded the plane from London to Oslo, on sale in the airport kiosk, Time Magazine’s cover story was dedicated to the new Arctic land rush, consisting of states claims on the seabed; particularly the dropping (deployment) of a titanium flag by Russia (stiffened to fly underwater?), counterclaims, and offhand dismissals by other interested nations. It must be cheaper in some accounting to stake claims by legal loophole. Here, the chance to claim undersea ridges by means of a timely focus on appropriate segments in the Oslo Accord, rather than potentially by more costly, future displays of military posturing and police power.

It’s intriguing to be in the locus of the new undersea land rush. As we approached the coast of Greenland, it was commented on that we were now well within relatively easy reach of rescue services; 45 minutes to a day, compared to potentially 3-4 days at the midpoint of our crossing. That is the condition of the Arctic, inaccessible, but seemingly less so – especially this summer and fall.

As we sailed across the deep trench of the Greenland Sea, Simon plotted our course in pencil on a large map, by way of the water temperature sampling points taken along the transect. Looking at the map, and the relative depths of the ocean floor we were crossing, it was also notable how relatively shallow, and drillable, the North Sea is in relation. Also notable, according to the Wall Street Journal of September 21, 2007, the North Sea’s oil production peaked in 1999.

What is the near future of the Arctic system? What are the coming politics of an ice-free Arctic? In a time when we need less drilling, sea transport, and consumption of fossil fuels, the irony that the rapid loss of sea ice makes all of these easier to achieve in the Arctic is not lost. And while we lack internet access on the Noordelicht, we have had Fulmars and Little Auks to keep us company 24-7 on ice watch, flying unperturbed through Force 9 gales, unaware of the hotting up of this little travelled, but politically desirable landscape.

Note: [ Shipment FER-1346 delivered October 3, 2007 ]

Tags: Amy Balkin