Global warming and an Arctic scramble

Canada, never known as being much of an agressor, is launching military exercises in its far North. They’ll involve land, air, and sea operations in Canada’s portion of the Arctic. This is one more consequence of global warming. Canada’s territory extends into the Arctic, and as ice sheets melt that territory will get more navigable. Canada, pretty clearly, wants to get in there first and claim anything interesting that opens up.

One thing that might open up is an easily navigated Northwest Passage. It’s a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, first pursued by Henry Hudson (–>) in 1610. Right now it’s mostly blocked by ice pack, but global warming might change that.

Looks like Canada wants to be ready, and stake its claim now. Canada’s not the only country that wants a piece of a newly thawed Arctic. Russia, Denmark, the US, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, are all claiming some level of sovereignty over any hypothetical passage. Resolving this is going to be messy. 

One potential loser in this scramble, though, may be the United States.  So long as the United States remains outside the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it remains exceedingly difficult for the United States to challenge claims made by other Artic countries.