9 June 2010, 17:30

International cooperation or competition in the Arctic

International cooperation or competition in the Arctic
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Scientists from 63 countries have gathered in Oslo to discuss the prospects for the exploration of the Arctic regions and the Antarctic. This is timed to coincide with the summing up of the results of “The International Polar Year 2007-2008” research programme.

Scientists from 63 countries have gathered in Oslo to discuss the prospects for the exploration of the Arctic regions and the Antarctic. This is timed to coincide with the summing up of the results of “The International Polar Year 2007-2008” research programme. The conference is aimed at giving free access to all to the results of the two years' research on the two poles. These results may be vital for future generations.

The first “International Polar Year” programme was implemented over a century ago. At the time, scientists from 12 countries participated in a test in global cooperation in this area. The research programme of 2007-2008 consisted of 200 projects. Russia carried of scientific research actively and even invited foreign scientists to its drifting station “North Pole”. The main conclusion reached by scientists is that melting ice has intensified. This, according to experts, paves the way for starting industrial exploration in the polar region in the near future.         

"The implementation of programmes such as “The International Polar Year” is extremely important for world science," says the chairman of the national maritime policy commission of the Upper House of the Russian parliament, the deputy chairman of the experts’ council on the Arctic, Vyacheslav Popov. “Many countries show scientific and practical interest in the Arctic, and how to distribute the efforts to monitor the Arctic effectively in future is the topic of the ongoing discussion. Russia insists that five countries – Russia, the U.S., Canada, Norway and Denmark – should monitor the Arctic region’s ecological situation, which is a crucial factor. In fact, the Russian sector, which is the largest, is the most significant one."        

Scientists from Africa, China, India, Japan and South Korea took part in the 2007-2008 programme. Such great attention paid by the international community to the Arctic is stipulated by geopolitical interests. At present, not only scientists and Greenpeace but also politicians and major companies are showing keen interest in the outcome of melting ice.        

According to experts, the Arctic shelf has almost 7 percent of explored reserves of oil and 30 percent of gas as well as large reserves of diamonds, gold and other minerals. The possibility of shipping through the Arctic Ocean is also proved to be quite promising. Scientists believe that the northern shipping route from Russia to America and Asia will be opened in ten years owing to global warming. This route has every reason to become the one most in demand when taking into account the activity of Somali pirates off Africa. In short, “Polar Year” has united scientists in studying the earth’s poles, and the prospects for opening a new shipping route and extracting off-shore mineral resources should unite the entire international community. The main thing is to agree with each other rather than falling out.   

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