The rapid melting of Arctic ice has opened a new frontier for international competition or cooperation.
The book opens with a dramatic scene, as three men in a submersible search for a hole in the ice above the North Pole location on the ocean floor where they’ve just planted a Russian flag. McPherson goes on to describe the changes in polar ice cover that are encouraging exploration and allowing access to previously inaccessible energy resources. Subsequent chapters describe new, shorter ocean passages, the jockeying for territory as nearby nations lay claim and others look for ways to get involved, and the likely difficulties of development. Native peoples, whose livelihoods and cultures are inextricably connected to this harsh environment, have to make difficult choices, and the melting of the ice sheet over Greenland offers new opportunities as well as potential for disaster. McPherson’s clear explanations and balanced approach encourage reflection; there are no easy answers. Given that the burning of fossil fuels contributes to global warming, should the newly accessible oil and gas be extracted and added to the world’s supply? Does the North Pole belong to one or another nearby nation or to the world? Is it even possible to develop this area without spoiling it? Maps, photographs and a thoughtful design add to the package.
A chilling look at a timely topic. (source notes, glossary, bibliographies, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)