Friday, November 14, 2008

Climate Change: a Monroe Doctrine for the Arctic

From Der Spiegel:
Ironically, while the world worries about climate change, global warming is triggering great hopes in Greenland. If the Arctic waters were truly ice-free in the summer in five to 10 years, which would be significantly sooner than previously feared, this could be good for Greenland -- at least economically.

The port of Qaqortoq in southern Greenland. From Der Spiegel.
Almost 200 years after the Monroe Doctrine, climate change is making the relationship between the Kingdom of Denmark and its arctic colony about as substantial as the melting pack ice. Geographically, Greenland (technically a "semi-autonomous republic") is the largest remaining European colony in North America. Its predominantly Inuit population drives a hardscrabble economy: Greenland exports lots of fish, and it imports lots of alcohol.

But with melting ice and increasing global demand for natural resources, Greenland looks set to storm into the global economy. The island stands to become a sort of Arctic Dubai by exploiting tremendous offshore oil reserves, which, in turn, will help accelerate the disappearance of the ice that's holding it back.

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