January 16, 2013

The Arctic Age that Wasn’t?

In a World Politics Review article published last Friday, I wrote that despite record low ice melt last year, the Arctic’s harsh environment is not giving way to commercial growth as quickly as some may expect. For example, after a hopeful summer, Shell suspended its oil and gas exploratory drilling in part because its equipment kept getting damaged by dangerous ice floes and strong ocean currents. Operations are expected to resume this summer. 

As a result, U.S. policymakers charged with safeguarding America’s interests in the Arctic should continually recalibrate their expectations for commercial and other activity in the region in order to enhance their planning efforts. After all, the kinds of resources that the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies will need to bring to bear in the Arctic are linked to the pace and development of activity in the region. And while the Arctic may one day be buzzing with eco-tourists, oil and gas drillers and deep sea fishers, it may fall short of our expectations and we should plan accordingly.

Read the full piece on World Politics Review here