نوع مقاله : مقاله پژوهشی
1 - استاد جغرافیای سیاسی، دانشگاه تهران
2 - دانشجوی دکتری جغرافیای سیاسی، دانشگاه تهران
3 - استاد اقلیمشناسی، دانشگاه تهران
4 - استاد حقوق بینالملل، دانشگاه تهران
عنوان مقاله [English]
Climate change is one of the most important issues occupying the minds of scientists from the end of the twentieth century. Not only, the matter leads to climate and ocean change, increase in ice melting level, rise in sea level and changes in greenhouse gases concentration, but also this phenomenon has some important geopolitical consequences. The most important emerging change is global warming. As the result of global warming, arctic regions are one of the regions whose geopolitics has changed. In the few past decades, the North Pole has been warmed two times more than other regions of the earth and it is predicted that in the late of 2030s, there will not remain ice. As the result of the climate change, arctic regions have become the central front of the world’s new geopolitical viewpoints, because it is the first time in modern history that natural resources such as hydrocarbons are accessible in those regions. So, as the result of these changes geopolitical and geo-economic importance of the North Pole is rapidly increasing and most likely its mineral resources will make it one of the prosperous economic regions in the 21st century. Therefore, arctic regions’ geopolitics is an emerging discourse which is the setting organized into power- knowledge and a network from multiple elements. But this region has major geopolitical challenges that have been revealed in the last decade called “The North Pole Crisis” and “The New Cold War”. The aim of the research is to study these geopolitical challenges.
The research methodology adopted is descriptive- analytic and the data- gathering procedure is based on library and field finding.
Results and discussion
During the 20th century, the North Pole was areas having militarily interests which were used as a base for nuclear submarines and as a place to test long ranges ballistic missiles. The region lost much of its strategic importance in late of 20th century and after the cold war. During the recent years, however, climate change has brought the North Pole again into the focus and has given it much geopolitical importance. Global warming has caused decrease in the volume of arctic ice cap, to the point that between 1970 and 2007, above 40% of the ice had been melted. The melting of the ice will bring about two different geopolitical changes to the region. First, the region’s natural resources, which include vast reserves of fossil fuels, will become accessible in a time that the price of carriers of energy is increasing; second, save in the time and consuming fuel in the result of creation new pathways for marine navigation. U.S Geological Survey has estimated that the North Pole has 90 billion barrels of unexplored oil reserves, 1669 trillion cubic feet of unexplored natural gas reserves, and 44 billion barrels of unexplored natural gas distillates reserves. From the other hand, ice melting makes marine navigation possible in the region, and consequently the new pathways will be created in the North Pole. The creation of new northeast and northwest pathways of North Pole will change global geopolitics and business.
Climate change and melting of the ice cap have given the North Pole new geopolitical weight and have given the countries encircling the Arctic and the world powers the new opportunities. A closer look at the situation, however, would reveal many important geopolitical challenges as well. Some of them are as follows:
1-Territorial disputes among the countries encircling the ice cap
2- Disputes on marine passage rights
3- Increase in the power of Russia
4- Increase in militarization of the area
5- Presence of competing world powers which are not among region’s countries
6-Tendencies of ethnic minorities of the region to get independency
Environmental changes can bring important geopolitical consequences. During the past decade, the most important climate change has been global warming. One of the regions whose geopolitical situation has been affected by global warming is the North Pole. During the few past decades, the North Pole has been warmed two times more than other regions of the earth. These changes have turned the North Pole into the central front of new geopolitical viewpoints and have increased the geopolitical importance of the region in two ways: First, the region’s natural resources which include vast reserves of fossil fuels will become accessible in a time when price of carriers of energy is increasing; second, save in the time and consuming fuel in the result of creation new pathways for marine navigation. The creation of new northeast and northwest pathways of North Pole will change global geopolitics and business, and turn it into an economically active region in the 21st century. The countries anticipate that the North Pole can alleviate their dependence on other regions (i.e. the Persian Gulf) as well as on other trade routes. In fact, the geopolitics of the North Pole is rising as a discourse which is the setting organized into power- knowledge and a network from multiple elements. It seems that climate change and melting of ice have generated opportunities for the five countries encircling the ice cap and for other world powers as well. A closer look would also reveal important geopolitical challenges. Some of these challenges are linked with expansionist attitudes showed by countries within and without the Arctic Circle. There are territorial disputes and contradictory claims over the continental shelf; there is a growing militarization of the region and a growing presence of outside powers; nonnative residents of the region have showed a growing appetite to get independency and there is some dispute over marine routes; and finally there is the growing power of Russia and its consequences for the west. Finally, it is noteworthy that while there is no specified regime for the Arctic, the international convention of maritime law is regarded as the best framework to deal with issues related to the Arctic, and it can present appropriate solutions to settle issues related to the territorial disputes, marine routes, and natural resources of the regions.