Video: The Emerging Arctic

July 16, 2014
11:41 am (EST)

Video: The Emerging Arctic
Explainer Video

Climate change, technological advances, and rising global demand for resources may unlock the potential of considerable economic possibilities in the Circumpolar North in the 21st century. The melting of Arctic sea ice to record lows in recent years has prompted many nations, principally those with Arctic Ocean coastlines—the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (Greenland)—to reassess their commitments and interests in the icy reaches atop the globe. Many forecast Arctic summers will be free of ice in a matter of decades, potentially opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, including energy production, shipping, and fishing. The thaw will also pose new security demands as greater human activity induces states to increase their military and constabulary presence.

More From Our Experts

While most experts dismiss the prospects for armed aggression in the Arctic, some defense analysts and academics assert that territorial disputes and a competition for resources have primed the Arctic for a new Cold War. Meanwhile, environmentalists are concerned that a new era of Arctic exploration and development could spoil one of the planet’s last great frontiers, a pristine habitat home to iconic wildlife and native communities that have subsisted there for thousands of years. Climatologists warn that the extraction of fossil fuels in the Arctic will contribute to global warming at a time when they believe nations should be paring back greenhouse-gas emissions and pursuing alternative energy sources. But for many, the debate is less over whether the region should be developed, but rather if it can be done sustainably and peaceably. The Arctic is emerging on the world stage, and it is not yet settled whether businesses, governments, and other operators can fully manage the unique risks it poses.

More on:

Arctic

Energy and Environment

Climate Change

This video is part of the Council on Foreign Relations’ InfoGuide Presentation, "The Emerging Arctic": Http://www.cfr.org/arctic

More From Our Experts

More on:

Arctic

Energy and Environment

Climate Change

Close

Top Stories on CFR

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines

Some governments and businesses are starting to use digital and paper passes that certify a person has been immunized against COVID-19, spurring debate over the ethics of vaccine passports.

China

The Spring Meetings should address BRI’s pitfalls and advance policies to help put BRI countries on the path toward recovery and sustainable growth.

Democracy

In this special series of The President’s Inbox on the future of democracy, James M. Lindsay speaks with experts to discuss whether and where democratic governance is faltering around the world. This week, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, leading scholar of political theory, constitutional law, international affairs, and society and politics in India, breaks down the health of democracy in India. This episode is part of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy.