In one of the most ambitious land grabs of modern day, Canada put its claim down for the North Pole on December 6th for review by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Their move had nothing to do with Christmas, however.
The U.S. Geological Survey found in a 2008 report that the Arctic could hold as much one-third of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and one-fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil. Underneath the ice there are enough resources so that Canada would not have to rely on another country for natural gas or oil for centuries. To prepare for this eminent change, Canada has approved fracking in the Arctic area it already owns and is starting to pioneer new routes for shipping of cargo. It is also preparing for the expected new sea routes that will open up as polar ice continues to melt.
According to its submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the exact amount of land Canada is hoping to add to the Ottawa territory is equivalent to the size of Saskatchewan and Alberto combined (in other words, it would also be the same size as putting together the nine states of Montana, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, and South Dakota). It would extend its border up north by a bold 460,000 square miles, as opposed to the present 200 square miles it possesses that every country bordering the Arctic is automatically given.
Russia and Denmark, however, also were convicted to lay claim to the North Pole. The Arctic landmass is practically connected to the Denmark territory of Greenland and exceedingly close to Russia’s various islands and shoreline. Even though the state of Alaska is also close to touching the North Pole, America has wisely chosen not to get involved in the dispute by not signing up for any of the applicable conventions at the United Nations. The various claims will most likely keep the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf carefully wary for a time and turn the controversy into a drawn-out concern.
According to The Guardian, Russia ordered its military to be more heavily present in the Arctic after Canada’s claim, as they have been disagreeing over which has the Lomoosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range that has a 1,200-mile-long continental crust band that goes over the polar region. In fact, Russia sent down scientists in 2007 to try to prove that it was a geological extension from the mainland, and divers physically placed their claim by putting a Russian flag onto the seafloor.
Canada will continue mapping the continental shelf underneath the North Pole so as to strengthen their claim until the United Nations conventions regarding the matter are settled.