The Future History of the Arctic
, by Charles Emmerson
Viewed through certain eyes, the diminishing ice cover at the top of the world is not a harbinger of destruction but an open door to commerce
. The Northwest Passage
is coming, at last. The Arctic is loaded with resources, and today as the ice recedes and open water stretches further, energy developers are licking their lips at the chance to get at all that hydrocarbon booty buried beneath frigid seas. The fight to come is: Who has the rights to what?
Writes Charles Emmerson: "If there is a scramble for the Arctic, it is a scramble in slow motion." That's because going after Arctic energy resources requires not just waiting for the waters to become passable
, but also negotiating the fact that "different legal regimes apply to the land, the sea, and the seabed." It might be easiest to negotiate a new treaty to govern the newly open Arctic, but Emmerson doubts this will happen. If for no other reason, he writes, the pool of Arctic nations would be inviting other nations to join the deliberations if they did so. It looks like the future of the Arctic will be legal mess, but it will be a legal mess sorted out by Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (owner of Greenland) while the rest of the world watches from the sidelines.