The Arctic Gold Rush: The New Race for Tomorrow's Natural Resources / Edition 1

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An exploration of the political significance of the Arctic's vast untapped wealth of natural resources, and a gripping account of the race to exploit them
On August 2, 2007, a Russian submarine captured world headlines by making a dangerous journey to the bottom of the Arctic seabed and planting a metal, rustfree national flag more than 14,000 feet beneath the North Pole. The aim was to assert Russia's legal sovereignty over a region whose importance had only recently started to become apparent as its melting ice had made, or was expected to make, vast natural resources open to exploitation.

The latest estimates are that the region holds around 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and as much as 30% of undiscovered natural gas reserves that would be hugely profitable for any country that managed to secure control over them. Gold, platinum, copper, and other precious metals have also been found along the coast. Neighboring countries -- Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, and Norway -- are already doing everything they can to mark out new borders. The ensuing political disagreements over the issue are already rife. In particular, games of political intrigue between Moscow and Washington are being played out in the region. But as the world's resources become increasingly scarce and valuable, could the scramble for Arctic resources become violent? Could a "War for the Arctic" be fought?

Praise for The Oil Hunters:

"The Dramatic Days of oil exploration in the first half of the 20th century are narrated in gripping fashion by Roger Howard." -The Spectator

"A fascinating story for anyone interested in one of today's main economic problems: How to reduce the hundreds of billions that Americans spend every year to import oil...the book is packed with intrepid geologists, risk-averse business people, hardup Mideast rulers and ingenious promoters- all concerned with driving up profits."-The Associated Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this dense but rewarding read, journalist and international relations specialist Howard (The Oil Hunters) looks at the strategic implications of climate change in the Arctic region. Dismissing the "much discussed" scenario of "brutal, bitter and bloody confrontation" over the region's rich resources, (Howard believes that as resources run low worldwide, market-driven economies will recognize cooperation as their best strategy), he sees the "real risk of future confrontation" in the Arctic's "strategic location. As ice melts and borders shift, disputes may arise over which countries-the U.S., Russia, Canada, Greenland-own the Arctic, creating a cascade of problems logistical, economic and military. If, for example, "Chinese or Russian energy companies could establish a presence in a petroleum-rich place like Greenland," then the U.S. might feel threatened. Other industries like international shipping will certainly be affected: "sailing between London and Tokyo would be reduced by 3,500 miles." Howard goes into grim detail regarding every aspect of the complex situation, but is guardedly optimistic that treaties can resolve these issues. Environmentalists and political buffs should find this an interesting and unexpected analysis.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441181107
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 11/3/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 259
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger Howard is a writer and broadcaster specialising in international relations. His most recent publications are The Oil Hunters (2008) and Iran Oil: The New Middle East Challenge to America (2006).

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Table of Contents


Part I The Setting

1 A Looming Resource War?

2 The Arctic Thaw

3 The Great Explorers

Part II The Issues

4 Who owns the Arctic?

5 Black Gold

6 The Arctic's other resources

7 Sea lanes and strategy

8 The environmental challenge

Part III The Contenders

9 Russia and the Arctic

10 America's Arctic Destiny

11 The Canadians look north

12 Some other Arctic claims

Conclusion: The future of the Arctic

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