Phtograph by Fabiano Busdraghi
Global warming is melting the perennial snows of the Arctic, making them more vulnerable to predators of its wide and, to this day, untouched richness: oil and natural gas. The Arctic polar ice cap is 25% smaller than it was 30 years ago; it loses 60 000 Km2 every year and, a month before its thaw, satellites registered a 10% smaller frozen area than its minimal record reached in September, 2005.
This year, for the first time on record, the Northwest Passage was ice-free from the Pacific all the way to the Atlantic ocean and estimates point towards an ice-free Arctic ocean in the summer of 2040. The Arctic ecosystems, that are already suffering with the thaw, threaten to crumble, transfiguring the pole and driving numerous species into extinction.
Photographs by Fabiano Busdraghi
But, if on the one hand the thaw in the artic will drive the planet to a catastrophe of epic proportions, on the other hand, the incessant search for alternative energy sources places the Arctic in the frontline for energy resources exploration, generating a confict so large that it will probably destroy whatever is left of the ocean.
The question of defining to whom the Arctic resources belong to (the oil alone stands for 25% of the world's reserves) is dividing neighbouring countries and includes the clauses of UN's Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the strange shape of the Lomonosov Ridge, a key issue for the diverse territorial claims: each country aims at proving that their part of the ridge belongs to their continental shelf and is not a seperate formation, in order to expand the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) to a distance of 370 nautical miles.
The USA and Canada fight for the Northwest Passage, while Norway and Russia dispute the Barents Sea and Canada and Denmark dispute the rights to a small island on the cost of Greenland.
The processes of appropriation of the wealth in the Arctic are variable and trudge along at different paces. So far, Norway leads the race, as it started, this year, its first commercial exploration of natural gas in Snohvi. In the meantime, Russia, which has planted a titanium metal flag on the seabed, 4 200m (14,000ft) below the North Pole, in a 15th century-like attempt at claiming the territory, follows Norway closely as it prepares to commercially explore oil and natural gas in Shtokman, in the Barents Sea, whose oil reserves are also disputed by Norway. Denmark is slightly behind, but it has already financed an expedition to the north of Greenland to determine the limits of their of their claim to the continental shelf. Canada, who never liked the attempt led by the USA to declare the Northwest Passage, which had always been considered "Canadian territory", as an "international strait" because it shortens the distance between Asia and Europe by 6 000 Km, is afraid of the environmental consequences of an unruly use of its waters, but doesn't restrain itself from considering itself owner of the biggest part of the Arctic and its richness. The USA, who are yet to ratify the UNCLOS, are preparing themselves to do so as a means of contextualizing their territorial claims to Alasca, assuring their share in the plundering.
It's likely that all these movements will end up being decided, as a last resort, in a rude wrestling, under the auspices of the International Criminal Court, but this degrading show will certainly go down in History as another act of greed over our planet, orchestrated by large capital and sactioned by the international community, and which will furthermore mortgage the future of mankind.
What an abomination!