Some people are going to throw their hat into the ring for global warming, if it remains moderate. Indeed, the climate in certain inhospitable zones will get milder. Unproductive land will become farmable. Soil productivity could increase in Canada, Russia and South Argentina.
The Arctic zone is symbolic of future opportunities, especially with the end of the ice floe. Without all the ice in the sea, the region will become navigable. The historic dream of the great explorers in the 19th century, to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the North will finally come true: the Northwest Passage will open up.
By going north from Canada, big boats travelling between Europe and Asia will no longer need to cross the Panama Canal. The Tokyo-Rotterdam route which is now 23 000 kilometres long will only be 16 000 kilometres long. By going North from Russia, through what is symmetrically called the Northeast Passage, it will only be 14 000 kilometres long.
The region’s subsoil may contain huge gas, oil, diamond and gold deposits that are yet to be discovered. These deposits that were protected by a layer of ice and extreme winters will now be easier to exploit.
It is for these reasons that the Arctic will become a zone of economic interest and major strategy. Canada, Russia, Denmark, the USA and Norway are already undertaking intense diplomatic efforts to reinforce the control they have in the region. Until now, borders in this part of the world have not always been established accurately.
But for those who traditionally live in the Arctic – the Inuit, Sami and Nenets people etc – incoming money and development mean new challenges. Their way of life and their culture could be threatened by environmental changes as well as political and economic developments.