Dave, Jason: Russians to plant flag on North Pole seabed

Just spotted this, while pondering the value of talking about the continued attempts by media to pretend they were on top of the what is essentially a tumultuous global stock market (almost zero, so I won’t bother).

Russian explorers are preparing to plunge below the North Pole to plant a Russian flag on the seabed of the Artic Ocean and lay symbolic claim to a large swathe of territory believed to be rich in oil and minerals.

Russia’s Akademik Fyodorov research vessel is expected to reach the North Pole on Wednesday evening at the end of an 8-day voyage accompanied by ice-breakers from Murmansk, on the north west coast of Russia, Itar-Tass reported.

”We must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian continental shelf,” said Mr Chilingarov. “We will be the first to plant a flag there. The Arctic is ours and we should manifest our presence.”

Canada and Denmark also claim that the Lomonosov Ridge, which geologists say could hold billions of barrels of oil reserves, is linked to their lands. The UN committee that administers the Law of the Sea rejected a Russian claim to the area submitted in 2002, saying there was insufficient evidence to support it.

Analysts said that the astronomical cost of exploring in the Arctic would prohibit the exploitation of oil and gas resources for several decades. But oil majors are already positioning themselves in the race for opportunities in the area. BP has formed an alliance with Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, to bid jointly for Arctic exploration acreage.

I wasn’t sure anything would top the Japanese coral expansion into the South China Sea for coolness, but this just might.

The key here is the word “symbolic” claim – as opposed to one recognised by the UN, or one conceded by the Danes or the Canadians. Now, given that Canada is a pretty big source of gas and oil for the US (to the detriment of their own environment, I’m obliged to point out, and although it is declining along with oil everywhere else), one can imagine who in this fight will carry the big US stick. Dave and Jason are two colleagues of mine who’ve told me, repeatedly, that when push comes to shove the US will most likely not respect a lot of conventions (nor should basic common sense predict they will, any more than any other country – US creditors, I hope you’re paying attention).

We can add this to the list of things over which several countries are likely to fight, when things get tough. If anything, this is the reason the US should be re-structuring its military. Not Rumsfeld’s moronic make-private-contractors-necessary (because mercenaries will not be all that reliable in this scenario, either), but a military that can fight for things in several places at once (“things” not equalling freedom or democracy – which they can’t do at all competently anyway, but directly and honestly for resources). Given the unsustainability of much of US farming area as freshwater resources decline, the US may need to fight for food, water and energy resources.

To the extent that any of this may come to bear – and I still hope I’m/we’re wrong, though I believe we’re right – in this much I agree with both of my colleagues though – it won’t be pretty, but the US will probably be first among the countries who will take care of its interests, come the time.

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