The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

December 24, 2013

5 myths about the North Pole

(Continued)

4. There is no military presence at the North Pole.

While there is no real threat of conflict over the division of the seabed, there still is military activity in the region. And as the ice melts and the Arctic Ocean becomes similar to the other oceans, day-to-day naval activities for the protection of maritime trade will begin to occur there.

There are two trends increasing the strategic importance of the waters around the North Pole. First, Russia has been building improved submarines to carry nuclear missiles. The key bases for these submarines and protective forces are in and around Murmansk, facing directly toward the North Pole. This has already caused the U.S. Navy to ensure that its attack submarines are capable of operating in Arctic waters. So we could see some Cold War habits coming back into play when two navys once again begin to play games of cat and mouse under the ice.

Second, anytime the United States feels threatened by North Korea, it strengthens its anti-ballistic missile systems — and the primary land-based interceptor site is at Fort Greely, Alaska. The United States is in the process of adding more interceptors because of recent actions by North Korea. The interceptors are in the Arctic not because of any U.S. concern about a missile strike from its Arctic neighbors. But their location has not gone unnoticed by Russian authorities, who think U.S. efforts may be directed against them — not rogue states or nonstate actors.

The presence of U.S. and Russian military forces in the Arctic means that in times of conflict and stress elsewhere, the Arctic could easily become involved.

5. The only thing changing at the North Pole is the climate.

There is no doubt that the most dramatic changes in the region are related to the climate. (Many experts believe that the permanent ice cover will be gone as early as 2020.) But at the same time the North Pole is physically changing, exploration of the area is increasing. Improvements in marine technology — led by non-Arctic states such as South Korea — are allowing different types of vessels to enter the region, even in the presence of ice. The ongoing discovery of untapped oil and gas fields in the area is also driving the development of better technologies. In short, the North Pole region is in a state of massive transformation.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Is this a commercial for batting gloves or a baseball game?

    Major league baseball desperately needs to speed up the action. Here's a place to start: Nix the mind-numbing ritual of hitters who first adjust the right batting glove, then the left one, after every single pitch.
     

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Simpsons still going strong

    The groundbreaking animation first hit the air Dec. 17, 1989, but the family first appeared on television in "The Tracey Ullman Show" short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987.

    August 21, 2014

  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • Police chief resigns over racial slur repost to Facebook

    A repost on his personal Facebook page of a racially-charged comment by the original poster of a comedy video has forced the police chief of an Oklahoma city to resign his office.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014