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By Julio César Centeno
The average temperature has risen about 1 ° C above the pre-industrial age average. Although seemingly insignificant, it has caused the Arctic sea ice surface to have lost half its extent since 1950 (10 million km2), a third only between 1980 (7.41 MM km2) and 2014 (5.01 MM km2) , measured in September when the annual minimum occurs. During this last period alone, 9,000 cubic kilometers of sea ice have melted, causing its volume to be reduced to less than half in the last 34 years alone.
The ice sheet over Greenland covers 1.7 million square kilometers and contains 2.83 million cubic kilometers of ice. Its loss would imply a rise in sea level of 7.4 meters. Greenland lost an average of 260 billion tons of ice each year between 2002 and 2014. The Arctic as we know it is disappearing. Ecosystems are approaching a state of chaos.
The sub-arctic flora and fauna move north in an attempt to survive. Tens of thousands of walruses have drifted to the northwestern coast of Alaska. The polar bear population in the Beaufort Sea has declined by 40% in just 10 years. The rapid thaw of the Arctic has caused a race for its resources, in particular oil reserves: 90,000 million barrels and natural gas: 44,000 million barrels of oil equivalent.
In the Arctic there are also important deposits of gold, silver, diamonds, titanium, nickel, iron, zinc, palladium, platinum and cobalt, in addition to important fishery resources. From there, 40% of the palladium, 20% of diamonds, 15% of the platinum, 11% of the cobalt and 10% of the nickel consumed in the world are currently extracted.
11% of the annual global fishing is extracted from its waters. About 10% of the world's oil supply and a quarter of natural gas now come from the Arctic region. These numbers tend to increase rapidly. The countries that share the territory claim rights beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zone in anticipation of the sharing of their resources: the United States, Russia, Norway, Denmark-Greenland, Iceland and Canada. Another aspect of strategic importance are the transport routes that open with the loss of the ice masses. In 2007 only 3 icebreakers dared to make this dangerous journey.
In 2013, they were plowed by 72 conventional cargo ships, reducing the route by between 4,000 and 5,000 kilometers compared to the alternate routes through the Suez Canal, the Straits of Malacca and Gibraltar or the Panama Canal. In 2010, 110,000 tons of cargo were transported on the Northern Route.
In 2013 it increased to 1.4 million tons, with an expected increase to 4 million by 2015 and 60 million by 2030. Although this is only a fraction of what is transported through the Suez Canal (740 million tons in 2012), the Northern Route quickly becomes a strategic link between Asia, Russia, Europe and North America, particularly in the military, energy and cutting-edge technology fields. A trip from Melkoya, Norway to Yokohama, Japan, on the Northern Route saves 21 days of travel in each direction and US $ 800,000 in fuel costs alone.
The recent deterioration in relations between Russia and the United States increases the risk of militarization in the region. Faced with increasing harassment from NATO, Russia has already deployed its new Northern Command and its Northern Fleet with 40 warships to defend its interests in the region. For early 2015, the activation of a Russian Drone Fleet for surveillance and reconnaissance is planned.
Russia planted its flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean in 2007, in a titanium capsule, 4,200 meters directly below the North Pole.