Summary: Representatives from countries bordering the arctic region including environmentalist, government leaders and business people from Canada, Russia, the US, Norway and Denmark met at a forum in Salekhard, Russia to discuss future utilization of resources in the Arctic Region. The forum consists of 700 delegates as well as the Russian, Finnish, and Icelandic Presidents. Studies suggest just that 20% of the worlds oil reserves and 30% of the natural gas lay underneath the ice. Fish and freshwater are also on the table. The goal is only achieved if the environmental impacts don’t prove to be negative. Russian President Vladimir Putin reassures the forum by saying “The right to extract oil in the ice conditions will only be given to operators, who have tried methods to clean oil spills under ice. We are also considering the creation of a mechanism for financial backing of cleanups of such spills.” Before any final decision is made, Finnish President Niinisto called for a better understanding of the ecology in the arctic between the countries.
Analysis: A number of conflicts arise in the international discussion of whether or not to develop the Arctic region. First, is the fact that there are no real official boundaries between the countries in the area. Differences in opinion could result in the argument on where is “fair game” to start developing. Russia’s argument does prove to be reliable in that their government has already spent some $45 million on a ‘Spring Clean’ program. On the other hand, Russia is simultaneously ramping up their military in order to prepare for the worst. This quite a stretch for them, considering the fact that the forum was deemed free of any political bias’ interfering. Also to be concerned with is the true measure of global climate change and the possibilities of disastrous outcomes regarding it. Oil spills while not considered common, do happen. If an oil spill did occur, then we would have poisoned one of the last untouched, resource rich, ecosystems. So in the forum, the question must be asked, what is the benefit to risk ratio? News of the forum has motivated a considerable number of protests an organization known as Greenpeace. Protesters have been arrested. No decision has been made yet on the issue but the answer will be long awaited.