The Arctic: land of ice and the midnight sun; irresistible goal for explorers and adventurers; enduring source of romance and mystery - and now also a poignant and imperative indicator of the impact of climate change. As the ice cap shrinks, the geography of the entire arctic region changes: clear shipping channels replace immovable ice and inaccessible oil resources become available. What are the long-term consequences of these cataclysmic changes - not only environmental but also political and social? How will the lives of those who depend on the natural resources of the Arctic be changed? And how will global powers who wish to exploit the region's many assets respond?In August 2008, for the first time in recorded human experience, the two historic routes across the Arctic Ocean - the North-East Passage known to the Russians as the 'Northern Sea Route', and the North-West Passage through the Canadian archipelago - were simultaneously open and ice-free. This rare coincidence caused widespread alarm, prompting fears of renewed competition between Russia and the West over control of the arctic region. Cold Front assesses this impending arctic metamorphosis and its profound effect on international geo-politics. As well as the environmental drama that may accompany an ice-free North Pole - melting glaciers, rising sea levels and severe meteorological disturbance including the possible disruption of the Gulf Stream - David Fairhall explores the potential military, legal and economic implications which could be equally dramatic. Cold Front is not just another attempt to predict the outcome of global warming. It offers a clear-sighted and penetrating investigation of the Arctic's pivotal role in international relations, placing the polar region in its historical, political and legal context. The thawing the of the ice cap creates huge opportunities for trade and transport - and therefore potentially also for conflict between the arctic nations. This important and timely addition to the literature on the region will be essential reading for anyone interested in humanity's effect on the Arctic - or the Arctic's effect on humanity.
Conflict Ahead in Arctic Waters
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