Arctic Resource Jackpot An Old Wish

The world's northern countries are all starting to eye the mineral resources revealed by melting arctic ice.

(Ice melting at 'amazing speed' [BBC])

At stake are the Arctic’s abundant supplies of oil, gas and minerals that are, thanks to climate change, becoming newly accessible along with increasingly navigable polar shipping shortcuts. This year, China has become a far more aggressive player in this frigid field, experts say, provoking alarm among Western powers.

While the United States, Russia and several nations of the European Union have Arctic territory, China has none, and as a result, has been deploying its wealth and diplomatic clout to secure toeholds in the region.

“The Arctic has risen rapidly on China’s foreign policy agenda in the past two years,” said Linda Jakobson, East Asia program director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia. So, she said, the Chinese are exploring “how they could get involved.”
(From Race Is On as Ice Melt Reveals Arctic Treasures)

The situation that has entrepreneurs excited has provoked alarm among environmental groups.

Experts warned on September 19 of a "planetary emergency" due to the unforeseen global consequences of Arctic ice melt, including methane gas released from permafrost regions currently under ice.

Columbia University and the environmental activist group Greenpeace held separate events to discuss US government data showing that the Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its smallest surface area since record-keeping began in 1979.

Satellite images show the Arctic ice cap melted to 1.32 million square miles (3.4 million square kilometers) as of September 16, the predicted lowest point for the year, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

"Between 1979 and 2012, we have a decline of 13 percent per decade in the sea ice, accelerating from six percent between 1979 and 2000," said oceanographer Wieslaw Maslowski with the US Naval Postgraduate School, speaking at the Greenpeace event.

"We are in a planetary emergency," said Hansen, decrying "the gap between what is understood by scientific community and what is known by the public." Scientists say the earth's climate has been warming because carbon dioxide and other human-produced gases hinder the planet's reflection of the sun's heat back into space, creating a greenhouse effect.
(Via Planetary emergency due to Arctic melt)

The current generation is not the first to think about how an alteration in the climate could reveal hidden mineral riches. In his 1889 novel The Purchase of the North Pole, Jules Verne described how to straighten the Earth's axis of rotation so it was perpendicular to the ecliptic, thereby equalizing Earth's climate and removing seasonal differences. This climate change would allow access to previously hidden resources.

The operation which is being tried by President Barbicane and Capt. Nicholl is as follows:

The production of a recoil, on the 22d of September, at midnight, by means of a cannon a million times larger in volume than the cannon of twenty-seven centimetres, throwing a projectile of 180,000 tons, with a powder giving it a velocity of 2,800 kilometres.

Now, if this shooting takes place below the equatorial line, nearly on the thirty-fourth degree of latitude west of the meridian of Paris, at the foot of Kilimanjaro, and if it is directed towards the south, these are the mechanical effects which it will have on the earth’s sphere: Instantly, in consequence of the shock acting with the daily movement a new axis will be formed and, as the old axis will be displaced to the amount of twenty-three degrees and twenty-eight minutes, according to the figures obtained by J.T. Maston, the new axis will be perpendicular to the direction of the ecliptic.

I should point out that John Jacob Astor IV pointed out that this shift of the poles could be done more gently by displacing the weight of water at the poles in his 1894 story A Journey in Other Worlds.

Thanks to Yossi Preminger for pointing this story and its reference out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/23/2012)

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