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Earth Politics

Denmark Makes Claim To North Pole, Based On Undersea Geography 191

As reported by The Independent, A scientific study has found that Greenland is actually connected to the area beneath the polar ice where the North Pole lies – thanks to a huge stretch of continental crust known as the Lomonosov Ridge. Since Greenland is a Danish territory, that gives the country the right to put its hat in the ring for ownership of the stretch of land, Denmark’s foreign minister [Martin Lidegaard ] said. ... Of the five Arctic countries – the US, Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark —only Canada and Russia had indicated an interest in the North Pole territory until now. "This is a historical milestone for Denmark and many others as the area has an impact on the lives of lot of people. After the U.N. panel had taken a decision based on scientific data, comes a political process," Lidegaard told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday. "I expect this to take some time. An answer will come in a few decades. Why such a big deal? As Business Insider notes, The U.S. currently estimates that the Arctic sea bed could contain 15% of the earth's remaining oil, along with 30% of the planet's natural gas and 20% of its liquefied natural gas. Whichever country is able to successfully claim the Arctic would have the right to extract these resources.
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Denmark Makes Claim To North Pole, Based On Undersea Geography

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  • Shouldn't all these countries be focused on renewable energy sources?
    Uh, sorry! Forget! I was just dreaming!
    • Unbelievable! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:14AM (#48608451)

      Well, denmark, for example, is focused on renewables. Doesn't mean they don't want to be the ones pumping up the oil and selling it. You can do other things with oil besides burning it also. I wouldn't put it past the danes to claim it as theirs and then not pump it in the name of protecting the arctic. They just might be altruistic enough.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Nit Picker ( 9292 )

        No, they'll just put a wind turbine on top of the oil derrick and proclaim it to be green. My understanding is that, in spite of all the green talk, Denmark has a pretty high per capita CO2 emission rate.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, they'll just put a wind turbine on top of the oil derrick and proclaim it to be green. My understanding is that, in spite of all the green talk, Denmark has a pretty high per capita CO2 emission rate.

          Define "pretty high"

          CO2 emissions per country [worldbank.org]

          • Worse than China?
            • by jbengt ( 874751 )
              The country ranking of per capita CO2 emissions that was linked seems highly correlated to the per capita economic output of the countries. By that measure, Denmark seems pretty low on emissions.
      • Well, denmark, for example, is focused on renewables. Doesn't mean they don't want to be the ones pumping up the oil and selling it. You can do other things with oil besides burning it also. I wouldn't put it past the danes to claim it as theirs and then not pump it in the name of protecting the arctic. They just might be altruistic enough.

        They're not altruistic enough to leave the current oil in the ground [wikipedia.org] I don't see why this oil would be different.

        Sure they may delay a few years, but people tend to be a lot more altruistic when it isn't costing much. The moment I point out you're sitting on a ton of oil is the moment you start to rationalize reasons that pumping oil isn't so bad.

      • Well Denmark does seem to have one of the best uses for oil [wikipedia.org] so why not.
    • Re:Unbelievable! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:34AM (#48608575)

      Energy diversity.
      Renewables are great sources of energy... But they are not perfect.
      Fossil fuels have their problems, but they do complement the gaps that renewables have.

      Renewables have the problem of portability. Some like wind and hydro electric needs to be located in the proper areas where they can get a reliable energy from. Others like solar do not offer 24/7 support. Batteries do not have the energy density that we get out of fossil fuel, and takes much longer to recharge.

      Right now with our current technology I can see Renewables replacing many of the power plants out there. Which will do a big cut in greenhouse gas emissions. However cars will still need to be hybrid gas/electric either the Toyota Prius style or the Chevy Volt style.

      The idea of moving the population to local cities where they can use public transportation especially in less dense areas like the United States, just won't happen. If you tell the population that they need to move from their houses which they have put a lot of money in, and live in an area the matches how they want to live and go to a crowed loud crime ridden city, will cause a lot of people to put a gun to your face, whether or not it is legal to have guns.

      So really energy diversity is the key, the goal is to reduce emissions, not just cut them off until we can get better alternatives to a point where we will not need fossil fuel.

      • Renewables have the problem of portability. Some like wind and hydro electric needs to be located in the proper areas where they can get a reliable energy from. Others like solar do not offer 24/7 support. Batteries do not have the energy density that we get out of fossil fuel, and takes much longer to recharge.

        That's why the real future of portable fuel is synthetic fuel [wikipedia.org] (preferably from carbon sequestration or renewable sources, not coal).

      • by jafac ( 1449 )

        he idea of moving the population to local cities where they can use public transportation especially in less dense areas like the United States, just won't happen. If you tell the population that they need to move from their houses which they have put a lot of money in, and live in an area the matches how they want to live and go to a crowed loud crime ridden city, will cause a lot of people to put a gun to your face, whether or not it is legal to have guns.

        bah. Worked out well for Stalin, didn't it?

    • people have the ability to focus on more than one thing. maintaining our way of life with fuels we know how they work and the infrastructure is in place, while also working on bringing the prices down on renewables.

      why does it have to be either or to some people?
  • Bad link in summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Walking The Walk ( 1003312 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:09AM (#48608431)
    Since the first anchored text in the summary isn't actually linked to anything, here's The Independent's article [independent.co.uk]. I'm guessing this is the one timothy intended to link to.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:10AM (#48608435)

    You're officially on the naughty list, you Danish bastards!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Every child in the world knows where to write and where Santa lives ..
      Santa Claus
      North Pole
      Canada
      HOH OHO
      ( real address )
      Can a billion kids be wrong ? North Pole is Canada and people saying otherwise better be ready for the kids uprising of the millenia.

      • No idjit. It's in Alaska. Now, if you ask most Alaskans, we'd rather Alaska be part of Canada (except for the guns). We are patiently awaiting an invasion of stealth snowmobiles [www.cbc.ca].

        Please.

    • Sorry about that. But I am not sure about the oil.

      The official danish position is that there is no oil at all in the newly claimed area. (Yes that is a direct quote from our foreign minister).

      (Now with logged in user).

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      You're officially on the naughty list, you Danish bastards!

      Yeah .. but everybody gets sump'n from Sump'n Claus [nbc.com]

    • Santa's got to pay the danegeld like every one else. We're back, in case You didn't get the memo.

    • Let me reply on behalf of those naughty Danish:
      THEN, SEND US COAL.

  • What reason are we going to make up to invade the arctic? -_-

    • The same one as always ... the presence of oil.

      Oh, you mean the public reason? Well, don't bother, we all know it's oil.

    • we'll come up with something after we waterboard Santa.

    • But the US can't even drill oil in ANWR, despite Alaska being all for it, due to the huge opposition from environmental groups in the other 49 states. If US were to get the North Pole - contiguous sector to AK, how would they then allow drilling for oil there, given that environmental wackos can then campaign on behalf of the seals and walruses, instead of the caribou.
  • Just draw lines from the North Pole to places where countries border each other, and each country gets that slice of the Arctic. For example, in-between the Bering Strait one line would be drawn between USA and Russia, toward the Pole. Where Alaska borders Canada. another line is drawn toward the Pole. That slice becomes claimable by the USA. Another line between Canada and Greenland would yield the Canadian slice. And so on.
    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:39AM (#48608605) Homepage

      That's not how international law about exclusive economic zones works, because there's not a convenient pole between every disputed area in the world (and why the pole anyway, what not say the center of the arctic ocean?). One doesn't carve out a brand new approach just for this one dispute. As much as I'm sure Russia would want them too, since they'd get half of the arctic ocean.

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      Yes, it does. If you were to simply divide up the Arctic Ocean as you describe then you'd have no international waters for shipping routes should the Arctic ever become a viable route between the Atlantic and the Pacific. If one nation's waters extended all the way to the polar cap then they would have a huge amount of control over shipping passing through it that wouldn't otherwise exist if at least part of that open water was free for anyone to access. While the resources will no doubt factor into the
    • by N1AK ( 864906 )

      duh, it doesn't have to be complicated

      The only people who think it doesn't need to be complicated are the simple; any method of splitting the Artic and its resources would have winners and losers, and the losers are likely to oppose it. Any fool can come up with a way of splitting land up, getting it accepted by dozens or hundreds of countries...

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      You are not cutting in China for a slice. There was a news article a year or so ago where the Chinese government made the case for why they should get a slice of the Arctic. Given their absurd claims to the S. China Sea, they probably believe they are entitled to a slice of the Arctic as well.

  • underwater ridges (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:19AM (#48608489)
    If being connected to land by underwater ridges gave right of ownership the map would look very different. Besides which it looks as though the other end of the ridge [wikipedia.org] connects to the Siberian Shelf. Push this argument too far and you could find out that Russia owns Greenland!
    • Don't put in any new ideas for the Russian government... especially with a name like Lomonosov, yeah, that really has the good old Danish ring to it...
  • Does Denmark... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:27AM (#48608537) Homepage

    ... honestly think that they can keep Greenland under their thumb for that long? Greenland already doesn't want to be part of Denmark - 75% voted for independence in a nonbinding referrendum in 2008 with a 72% turnout. The wealthier they become and the greater the percentage of the wealth that Denmark siphons away, the more they're going to want it. If Greenland and its EEZ start raking in trillions of dollars annually (which is the sort of mineral wealth up for grabs), how low in the single-digits do you think the popularity of remaining part of Denmark will be? For every trillion of GDP that'd be nearly $17M per capita, at Greenland's current population.

    Is Denmark going to force Greenland to stay with them by the gun?

    • Is Denmark going to force Greenland to stay with them by the gun?

      Well, it worked for the United States....

    • Re:Does Denmark... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheSunborn ( 68004 ) <tiller@da i m i . a u.dk> on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @10:04AM (#48608777)

      No, Denmark is going to let Greenland be independent as soon as they want to. The sooner the better.

      But Greenland can't afford that right now.

      75% of the income for Greenland, is direct economic support from Denmark. Think about that: They would lose 75% of their income without Denmark, which is the only reason they are not independent yet.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        This is false. Greenland's GDP is 2,3 billion USD. The subsidy is under 700M USD. They would lose about a third of their GDP if the subsidy cut off. On the other hand, they would also stop *paying* about that much in taxes to Denmark.

        People in Greenland voted overwhelmingly to terms that called for eliminating the subsidy, in exchange for Denmark butting the heck out of their land.

    • Denmark is still subsidizing Greenland by a wide margin. 1/3 of the GDP comes from Denmark subsidies, and almost 2/3 of the island's government revenues.
    • by kyrsjo ( 2420192 )

      If there suddenly is real industry, do you think the population will stay in the 50k range? I think an influx of Danes etc., large enough to significantly change the demographics, is likely. They might not vote the same way...

    • by jfengel ( 409917 )

      You have to take nonbinding referenda with a grain of salt. It's easy to wave the flag and claim nationalism when you don't have to deal with the difficulties of actually running a country when you do.

      I'm not saying that the Greenlanders don't genuinely want independence. I'm just saying that 75% is the high-water mark. At least 25% genuinely don't want independence, and that were it to come down to a binding vote, they could well find another 26% who get cold feet at the prospect of having to deal with the

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Only half of Americans typically turn out to vote in binding presidential elections. 72% of Greenlanders turned out to vote in the *non-binding* referrendum on independence. I'd say that's some pretty serious interest. Even if every last Greenlander who didn't show up didn't want independence, they *still* wouldn't be in majority.

    • ... honestly think that they can keep Greenland under their thumb for that long? Greenland already doesn't want to be part of Denmark - 75% voted for independence in a nonbinding referrendum in 2008 with a 72% turnout. The wealthier they become and the greater the percentage of the wealth that Denmark siphons away, the more they're going to want it. If Greenland and its EEZ start raking in trillions of dollars annually (which is the sort of mineral wealth up for grabs), how low in the single-digits do you think the popularity of remaining part of Denmark will be? For every trillion of GDP that'd be nearly $17M per capita, at Greenland's current population.

      Is Denmark going to force Greenland to stay with them by the gun?

      The part of Greenland inhabited by greenlanders can secede all they want. It is the large uninhabitet area that has all the resources, and the only ones living there are Danish scientists and military.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Oh, so Denmark is going to pull a Putin and cut off whatever sections of Greenland it wants for itself?

  • by clickety6 ( 141178 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @09:28AM (#48608545)
    ...could easily lead to a doubling in size of Denmark's Lego stockpiles...
  • Two words: Resource Wars. Or another way of saying it is, for all practical purposes, the only country with the ability to affect the rights to this region is Russia. Only Russia owns a fleet of nuclear icebreakers to get to this frozen floating turd and maintain a shipping lane.
    Or more realistically, of the parties listed contesting the north pole, only Russia has a fleet of fourth generation Akula and Severodvinsk tactical submarines capable of listlessly patrolling the sea and torpedoing the first ca
    • Monetary capital can be converted into oil, which can be sold for far more money than initially spent. And neither Russia nor Canada have much reason to pursue renewables - global warming will be converting countless acres of frozen tundra into much more human-hospitable terrain over the next centuries, so fossil fuels are a resource that benefits them twice... though Canada may have to worry about be annexed by the US, if we're still a major military power by then.

      And human capital is cheap - we reproduce

  • 15% of the earth's remaining oil, along with 30% of the planet's natural gas and 20% of its liquefied natural gas

    I wonder how long this will last us. 50 years? 100?

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )
      More important that the size of reserves is the daily production volume that can be achieved. Given the harsh conditions in the Arctic, that's probably not very high.
  • I was taught in school that Robert Peary of the US was the first one that got there, doesn't that give USA a claim

  • We have International waters and an International space station, why not declare the North Pole as being International land? Just get all the Arctic countries to sign up on that and we're good to go.

  • ... it will be sprawling multinational oil corporations that will profit most off the oil. Nation-states will get crumbs, albeit very lucrative crumbs.
    • You mean the oil companies that are putting billions upon billions of dollars on the line and running significant risks, as opposed to the government who just stamp a concession and sit back to collect. Compare the nr. of dollars earned vs. the amount invested by oil companies, and you see decent but not exorbitant returns. Especially with the price of extracting that oil rising, and the price per barrel being relatively low at the moment. Now compare the amount of money that the government makes at the
      • by jbengt ( 874751 )

        Now compare the amount of money that the government makes at the pump, compared to what the oil companies make. You know, the guys who find, extract, move, refine and ultimately sell it to us. In the US the ratio is 7:1*; in Europe it's much worse.

        First, "the guys who find, extract, move, refine and ultimately sell it to us" are typically several different companies, only the biggest companies have that kind of vertical integration, and they rely on third parties for a lot of those tasks, anyway. Second,

        • Indeed, only the biggest companies have that integration. These are the "sprawling multinational oil corporations" GP was talking about. By the way, even the majors increasingly farm out work and expertise to service companies, and we're now close to the point where the small national oil companies can now hire that same expertise to handle more complex exploration and production projects, without needing to bring in the majors.

          And here's your citation: Oil Company Earnings: Reality Over Rhetoric [forbes.com] for th
  • The world of geopolitics are much more Hobbesian "red in tooth and claw" - certainly there are international "laws" but considering that a) being subject to them is entirely voluntary and b) there are no punishments for law-breakers beyond what other states are willing to exert, "international law" is more like a voluntary coordination of diplomatic efforts than an actual binding structure of laws. I know it didn't help Ukraine for shit (bye Crimea!), and is unlikely to do much for the Philippines or Vietn

  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @10:52AM (#48609127)

    I'm sure the large and powerful Danish Navy will have no trouble enforcing that claim...

  • First some facts. I once looked this stuff up because when I was a kid, I was try8ing to figure out which nationality Santa Claus would be. It happens to be the case that the northernmost point on land in Greenland is 440 miles from the North Pole, the northernmost point on land in Canada is 472 miles from the North Pole, and the northernmost point on land in Russia is 493 miles from the North pole.

    Canada and Russia are both independently sovereign, which I think gives their claims to the pole more cred

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Ah, you forget Putin's dickski, it is waaaaay long enough to reach North Poleski with foots left over!!

      • It gets even funnier. That "~ski" ending of the family names is actually Polish, not Russian. Pole-ish, get it?

  • It has lots of gold, rare-earth-elements and other kinds of minerals you find in ancient geologic cratons. As the ice melts, more is exposes every year.
  • A dose of Realism. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2014 @02:06PM (#48610977)

    Canadian here. Much of the "ownership" of the north is symbolic. The ownership is in most ways determined by use (of the lack thereof). This is why there are stupid islands that Canadian and Danish forces regularly visit, even if in dispute, as they can claim they still "use" it. Even if like the moon, it is only to set foot on the barren rock and plant a flag for symbolism. The folks sent there I think have about the right attitude about the whole practice as I recall, Canadian forces leaving booze for the Danes to find, and likewise they would leave booze for the Canadians.

    This is why I thought Stephen Harper was such an idiot on this topic. When talking about the ownership of the North, he decided that he should do a pork project to build "Ice Hardened" warships in the idea of protecting our claim to the North (As if they are going to fire on anything but perhaps some arctic seals). They are however of a Finnish design, and are basically armored corvettes. Unless however the polar ice gets very very thin and all but vanishes however, they are not going to be very capable. What we should have done was expanded and improved our fleet of real ice breakers.

    As I hate to say it, but all the UN and other countries can say what you will, but only one country currently really has claim, the same one with the largest fleet of icebreakers in the world, the only one to actually build nuclear ice breakers, and has a fleet of 12 or so of them. As when it comes down to having the capability of actually using the north for anything, they are the only ones that really can effectively. Even if you say with the weakening of polar ice, that will take time, and the only country that will be able to take advantage of it first (and make a claim) will be Russia.

    Canada should be building ice breakers not warships if they really wish to protect their claim on the north.

  • Or that's how I think the headlines should read.

  • Much as I love and admire my U.S. colleagues and am honestly grateful for what the U.S. has done as benevolent conqueror.. it is just too easy to imagine how the "Hell Yeah" school of American politics would deal with Danish ownership of a lot of oil. Dumbass Danes, it's their own fault they have a weak military. Hell Yeah! Here's hoping everyone has evolved far beyond that by the time anything like drilling for oil in Arctic is ever held feasible. If only there was a way to add 20-30 IQ points quickly
    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Denmark is a member of NATO, so if the US attacked Denmark militarily, the US (along with the rest of NATO) would be obligated to come to Denmark's aid and repel the aggressors.

  • Easily solved: all one has to do is help local Greenland residents "liberate" themselves from their colonial Danish overloads and create themselves a new, frozen petro-state with quasi-loyalties to its liberators. The United States, Russia, China, Canada... same result.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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