Five nations are competing heavily for
the resource of the Arctic -- the United States, Russia, Canada,
Denmark, and China. A number of others are eying the region as
well, which may contain more than 160
billion barrels of oil.
A leading armed forces
publication, the Navy Times, interviewed
U.S. Navy officials about how they are preparing for the changes --
and the race that will follow. Rear Adm. David Titley,
oceanographer of the Navy, states, "The Arctic is changing, and
it is changing rapidly. If the Navy does not start looking at
this today … we could wake up in seven or eight years and find
ourselves way behind the power curve."
climatologists have bumped estimates of ice free summers from the end
of the twenty-first century to about 2030. "Ice free" is
defined as a summer in which their are several weeks in which there
is less than 10 percent aerial ice coverage.
The Navy recently
published an Arctic
Report (PDF) that offers a carrot and stick approach to dealing
with resource rivals. The report describes trying to "provide
opportunities for cooperative solutions" and "determine the
most dangerous and the most likely threats." A public
relations campaign to keep opinion in the U.S. favorable is also key;
the report describes implementing strategies to make the public
"believe the Navy is contributing to a safe, secure and stable
The Navy is also looking to do its part
to try to avert a melting Arctic by deploying
a "Great Green Fleet" consisting of nuclear or
biofuel-powered aircraft carriers and biofuel-powered jets.
Finding cheaper, more sustainable energy sources is a major concern
for the Navy; it costs over $643,000 (at $70/barrel oil) to fill the
450,000 gallon fuel tank on the Navy’s DDG-51 destroyer.