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The U.S. Navy is bracing for the multitude of challenges and opportunities posed by a melting Arctic, including a brewing resource battle (image of a DDG-100 destroyer).  (Source: Defense Industry Daily)
U.S. Navy plans a carrot and stick approach for resource rivals, while trying to internally do its part to combat climate change

The warming of our world is melting the ice that traditionally has covered the Arctic raising the prospect of the first mostly ice-free Arctic summer in centuries.  This offers some benefits -- access to new underwater resources, shipping routes, and faster travel routes.  However, it also offers a greatly heightened risk of territorial conflicts.

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."

Recently, 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 Arctic region."

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.





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