Monday, 13 August 2012

Comment #11: -- Claiming The North Pole

'Geologists to gather data for Danish North Pole claim'
DOES the North Pole belong to Greenland and by extension to Denmark, to which it is politically linked? That's the question Danish geologists heading for the Arctic this week will be trying to answer.
They are hoping the seismic data they collect between now and mid-September will support the claim of Denmark and Greenland to 150,000 square kilometres of extra territory extending north from Greenland into the oil and gas-rich Arctic sea floor.
Their claim rests on whether an underwater formation extending north of Greenland called the Lomonosov ridge qualifies as an extension of Greenland's land mass. If it does, Greenland can bid to extend its undersea territory.
Any such move would meet resistance from Russia: in 2007 it claimed that the opposite end of the Lomonosov ridge is an extension of Siberia.
Other nations laying claims to chunks of the Arctic are Canada, Norway and possibly the US. Geological data is a prerequisite to winning an officially recognised claim to territory, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, says Møller.

Err, hello? People?

All of the entire world is geologically linked!

How exactly these people think that substantiating geological connections between their own nation and the Arctic can possibly make sense in a bid to own both, beats me.
But then, they don't have to convince me - they have to convince other people who subscribe to nationalistic thinking.

There is as much claim to the Arctic by Greenland, due to geology, as Hitler's claim to Czechoslovakia... or Austria... or Poland... or to Denmark, for that matter!
(I'm not saying Hitler did claim geology as a justification, but that's not my point)

Just because two regions of ground are linked - however that link might be - does not mean you can simply lay claim to it.
And nobody living there... yet... doesn't make the proposition any more sensical.

The existence of a geological structure, common to both regions, does not substantiate a claim to extension of sovereignty, whether it's a ridge, or a trench, or one of Cthulhu's outstretched tentacles.

That the Sahara extends into Mali, Niger, Libya, and Chad, doesn't mean Mauritania can claim rights to them!

That the Rockies extend into Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, does not mean the Canadians can simply stroll over and shove a flag in them!

If the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea heeds these facile arguments, then it is in need of an edit.

There are, in fact, people in the world who are responsible for ensuring that the moon (and the rest of the cosmos, for that matter) is not nationalised.
It is a region of the universe that is independent of nationalistic property law... and that is something that it has in common with the moon :P

We have to accept that nations are geo-political delineations, and the "-political" part is crucial to the definition.

It is an artefact of our time, that everyone assumes every region of ground to 'belong' to one nation or another.
Before colonialism, there were plenty of areas of the world, that had not been carved up between capitalistic megalomaniacs, who always wanted more than the next tyrant to be painted 'their' colour on the map.
Centuries before that, the idea of a nation itself would have been obsolete - city states were the entities to wield the power - Rome, Athens, Ur, Chichen Itza, etc.
They could claim areas as far as their power extended - but there were vast regions, between, to which the idea of a nation meant nothing.

This is why the "-political" bit is so important.

All nations are social constructs - which means they are imaginary - no, i'm not a crackpot, keep reading!
Nations only exist insofar as other people believe them to.
Think of areas of the world like Gaza, Tibet, and Chechnya. One group of people believes that the respective region of ground 'is' one nation, and another group of people believes that it 'is' another nation.
Because nations are imaginary - social constructs - there is no way to spectroscopically test the ground for Tibetanness, for example - disagreement about which nation it should be classified as, is purely a social problem.

Neither the Arctic nor the Antarctic have to belong to any country; and, in my opinion, like the moon, they should stay that way.

Let's face it - the only reason they want it is the same reason all the other nationalists/capitalists want it - there are prospectively-massive reserves of fossil hydrocarbons under the Arctic ice.
And because the fossil fuel industry has caused the ice to melt, and that the effect has a lag, we know it will continue to melt, even if we burn no more hydrocarbons at all from now to infinity.
They might not be intelligent enough to cognise the importance of not burning those reserves but they are intelligent enough to know that there's a whole load of virtual wonga sitting under them thar ice cubes.

We shouldn't be happy about any nation claiming the Arctic as its own, and we should be even less happy about their motivations for doing so.

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