I refer to a phenomena so common, terrible, intriguing and mindless that it not only pegs you down in quick sand, but causes divorce, brain discoloring and smug neighbors? For instance, why do I waste my time writing this blog? Is it the public masturbation shared with all the other jerks writing blogs about subjects no one cares about? Or is it trying to sadistically poke your brain? Perhaps it is the frustration knowing that both of us wasted another day without furthering society, our morality, world peace or truth in advertising? How about the waste of lost dreams? You get it? Do I have a point or not?

“What point”, you ask. The point is the point about waste. Waste such as the leaves floating about in a lifeless desert. Waste such as the rats in your toilet making you flee to your backyard. Waste such as throwing up because today it is yet another day bringing you that much closer to death. Look around and there is plenty of waste to be seen by your yellowed, blood shot eye or smelled by a smashed in nose. But the waste you see, smell or feel is just the tip of the ice berg. The biggest waste is within, below periscope depth, slippery, unseen and without control.

“Within what”? “Within my bread box”? Certainly. “Within my donations to Sudanese kids”? Canceled years ago. “Within that pledge to lose weight”? Don’t remember that one. No, no, the scope is wider than any of those little things. I’m thinking about the waste within you, within all of you, the waste that makes becoming a contributor to humanity very unlikely. The black hole in your soul. The garbage can in your heart.

“Yeas”, you hiss. “I got no black hole. My garbage can is over by the garage, not my heart. They pick up my garbage every Monday.” Well, good for you. I guess I did not make myself clear. I’ve seen you around for years. I’ve seen you bombarded by every worthwhile idea, initiative, law, advance, passion, plea and joke. Nothing brought a reaction of any kind. You seemed to brighten at the tea party crowd but that lasted only a brief moment. Everything went into that black hole you seem unaware of. Gone. Nada. Dead quiet. Not even an echo, splash or ripple. Have another Valium and all will be well.

You could be Scrooge except he’s got initiative and you don’t. He says no but you mumble. It’s much easier to enumerate what you are not than to pinpoint the qualities that you possess. Mention any characteristic and you’ll find it does not quite apply to you. Are you generous? Honest? A good father, wife, mother or child? Are you a party pooper, embezzler, insider trader or shop lifter? A civil rights activist, a recycler, a doctor without borders? Stop crying, you fraud. Get used to the bad news. Pretty much, you’re not really anything. You’re like a playing card without a face. All you know is how to pack it all into the garbage can in you heart. They’ll pick it up on Monday and you are free again, temporarily. Then the smudge starts to accumulate again.

You know the slogan “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” (1). Perhaps you remember Dan Quayle who contributed an imaginative paraphrase: “What a Waste it is to Lose One’s Mind. Not to Have a Mind is Being Very Wasteful.”(2) Dan hit it right on, didn’t he? Dan may not be the brightest speller but he could cover his tracks with the best of them. Yet the marketing guys know a good thing that they can waste, turn around, plagiarize and destroy. Here’s a few: “A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste”(3), “A Stimulus is a Terrible Thing to Waste”(4),” Intelligence Is a Terrible Thing to Waste”(5), “A Lifestyle Is a Terrible Thing to Waste”(6), “A Kiss is a Terrible Thing to Waste”(7) and “Trash Is a Terrible Thing to Waste”(8). Bush contributed “And There’s no Doubt in My Mind, not One Doubt in My Mind, that We Will Fail” (9) which may be his only insight during eight long years.

In turn, the slogans above refer to (1) educational wake up calls, (2) a politician’s customary fogginess, (3) learning lessons from bad stuff such as the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, (4) experts claiming that Obama’s $837 billion stimulus package was and is gigantically wasted, (5) the TV show Entourage’s fan book, (6) a song title, (8) a Canadian promotion of recycling with the related “Land is a Terrible Thing to Waste” and finally (9) a 2001 Bush pep talk to the Labor Department.

Slogans, one liners, battle cries, jargon, lyrics, catch phrases and mottoes are just words stapled together to penetrate you skull. They are of as little consequence as sand penetrating your shoes, yet are as unavoidable as the baby on the air line seat next to you. Slogans are spam on the way to the black hole of the Delete folder. By now, we perceive almost everything as spam, regardless if the message comes from Sarah Palin, the Pope, the IRS or that poor Nigerian statesman. The Nightly News are spam. Beethoven’s Ninth is spam. Mona Lisa is spam. Your partner’s blabbering are spam. You boss leeks spam like the Mississippi. This blog goes straight to the black spam hole.

Slogans make up 95% of the communications we receive and give (I made up that number). “Have a Nice Day”, “You Look Well”, “I Feel Great”, “I Love My …”, “How’s that…?”, “I Bet …”, “I Hear That …”, “Keep Up the Good Work”, ” My … Says That …”, “Come and Get It”, “Yes We Can”, “Can I Get You Another?”, “Did You Find Everything?”, “Will That Be All?” and “Come Again”. Comfort words fill any gap left open in circular lives without start or finish. They swirl around in our mouths and spit out like mustard gas, filling the air with clouds sticking to your hair and shoes. The clouds wander up your nose, becoming cog web around your brain. No response is ever generated, nor expected. It’s the white noise of loneliness. It is the knee-jerks of empty minds.

“Empty minds?”, you say. “That isn’t me. I see through all of that. Doesn’t bother me. No, Sir. No fog to report”. Excellent, excellent. You are right. There are people who do not suffer from cob web or discolored brains. Frankly, of those, most suffer terrible damage to the inner self. They do not understand the significance of “Have a Nice Day”. No Prozac can bring them to the ranks of the mindless masses because the damage is so severe that not even Dr Phil can sort it out. Which leaves the last crowd for the last.

Some people just don’t get it. They seem unaffected by the slogans. They refuse living the mindless life. They shake off the boredom, loneliness and the brain cob webs. The slogans make up 5% of their reception, not 95% as is the case with the wasted mindless. Who are these people? That is hard to tell. We may all have ideas but, being mindless, it is difficult to be sure and most mindless aren’t likely to even try. Who are the mindful? What made them mindful? What made the difference? You don’t really expect me to answer that, do you? Only the mindful can answer things like that. The mindful have not told me their secrets. Maybe some day.

Can You Take This?

December 10, 2010

What’s your tolerance for controversy? What kind of controversy, you ask? We suffer controversies all around us so what do I have in mind? The color of a tie, a barking dog, e-mail spam, people eating veal, Michael Jackson’s nose, BP’s cover ups, Osama bin-Laden’s muffled threats on tape, Wikileaks releases of semi-truths or maybe the origin of cosmos. These are all valid controversies that many if not all of us suffer, cherish or ignore.Harold Pinter

Once in a while something pops up that hits you in some special way. I’m referring to Harold Pinter’s 2005 lecture called “Art, Truth and Politics”. If you don’t know, Harold Pinter was a British actor, screenwriter and playwright. His works were somewhat mysteriously labeled “absurdist and realistic while displaying despair and defiance about the human condition”. If you, like I, didn’t quite catch that, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” was one of his movie credits. Moreover, he won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature. He got the French Legion d’Honneur as part of a mile long list of awards and honors. He was a controversial, outspoken leftist political activist.

The Nobel Price lecture was pre-recorded, and shown on video on December 7, 2005, in Börssalen at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden. Pinter, 75, suffered major health issues and could not attend in person. Death is one of the controversial themes in the lecture and clearly on Pinter’s mind but did not lessen the fury, passion and personal honesty displayed By Pinter. He died three years later, in December of 2008.

Pinter was controversy personified. He was and is the left-winger that right-wingers love to smear. The US and British post WWII policies in the Middle East and Central and South America gave Pinter the political platform he needed. Yet he is also a keen observer of the phobias of mankind on an individual level. Therein lays the greatness of his Thje 2005 Nobel Literature Prize Diplomalecture. He bridges the gap between the national horrors and our personal sphere of “lies, lies and lies around us”.

The lecture ties our personal, moral culture to the corrupt top level political arena. In the latter, he targets the two Bushes’ wars in Iraq, extending it to the US deadly meddling in Central and South America. You may or may not agree with his leftist views – that is not the main point. It’s not about whether or not Pinter hates America. It is about whether you and I have the courage to see and react to what is around us. That’s the point missed or ignored by his critics.

You will find plenty of controversy; as good as it gets in civilized circles. Take the time to sit through the lecture (link below). It probably won’t change your life. But the lecture will make you think. It may anger you or it might make you jump up and cheer. In either case, the real point is how we personally relate to a world of violence on the highest level. It is about opening one’s mind. I know. That’s a hard Harold Pinter, The Actorone.

The lecture ends with a poem by Pinter. Labeled “Death”, it pinpoints the gruesome reality of death with a question about love. “Did you wash the Dead Body”?. “Did you kiss the Dead Body”? The macabre horrors of the world are not distant events but events that affect us morally, ethically and personally every day of our lives. His final point is about our loss suffered from the “lies, lies, lies”. We have “lost the Dignity of man”.

Below is the link to the 46 minute lecture as presented to the Swedish Academy on December 7th of 2005.

The Official link: http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=620

Here is one of the responses, as merciless as the lecture itself:

Harold Pinter, Acting“Christopher Hitchens, a US-based British polemicist alerted American conservatives to the full horror of Harold. He warned, in The Wall Street Journal, that the new Nobel laureate was “a thuggish big mouth who has strutted and fretted his hour upon the stage for far too long”. Hitchens also declared he had experienced more wit and enlightenment on the walls of a public lavatory than he had by attending Pinter’s plays.”

And here is the other side as expressed by the price awarders of the Nobel Prize:

“Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the highest honor available to any writer in the world. In announcing the award, Horace Engdahl, Chairman of the Swedish Academy, said that Pinter was an artist “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”.

You decide.

It’s easy to dismiss global warming. Florida is not under water. Record breaking snow storms howl down the US East Coast. Africans have not invaded Europe in search of agriland. Hurricanes aren’t the super disasters forecast. Parisians freeze to death. Pictures from Copenhagen show top politicians from Obama to Reinfeldt in climatic defeat. Data suggests temperatures have plateaued. IPCC reels from scandals. Himalayan glaciers will not disappear by 2035 as stated. Emails suggest scientists fake data to scare the innocent public and law makers into exorbitant spending.

The Troubles Of An Activist

It’s harder than ever to be a global warming activist, patron, believer or scientist. One has to endure sneers, shaking heads, raised eye brows from the ever present deniers. U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) boosts a premature “I told you so” into your weary ear. Thus Inhofe keeps Bush’s flame alive in the tradition of the 2003 declaration of victory in Iraq (“Mission Accomplished”). No longer is one is likely to be the life of the party, pouring out statistics on Antarctica’s ice cores. IPCC pay is nonexistent aCellist  On Top Of The Mountainnd the perks are stale. Neither Leno nor Letterman is calling you. Pushing this most boring subject won’t improve one’s sex life, driving one’s depression into uncharted waters.

This is far from the glory days of 2006 and 2007. Then global warming was almost hip. Now, though, one’s neighbors, spouses, bosses and therapists no longer believe one’s mission to save mankind is critical, sexy or hip. It is possibly slightly amusing in a patronizing way.

Comrade demonstrators pack their bags, heading for new horizons and fresher barricades. Nervous scientists switch seats. Lacking the people’s pressure, politicians do nothing to the joy of lobbyists. Perhaps you thought a Democratic President plus a predominately Democratic Congress would live up to the rhetoric splattered along the campaign track? Think again. Credibility and urgency vanishes and ignorance rules.

What happened?, the oh-so-out-of-date activist wonders.

Another Forced Fed Lecture

Are you old enough to have experienced the 1960s and early 1970s? Did you attend or embrace any of the following: Berkeley, Kent State, Chicago Democratic Convention, counterculture, social revolution, anti war, bra burning, Woodstock, LSD, Janis Joplin, Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, May 1968 French upraising, A Flowery Sixties Protestthe Prague Spring and “I have a dream”. MLK was not the only one with a dream. Wilderness Rights, Voting Rights, Civil Rights all came to or matured. The Sixties spelled energy, experiment, emotion and exorbitance. Real change actually happened.

Then, being an activist almost surely improved one’s sex life. In fact, people actually had sex lives after the constricted Fifties. The pill shook the World. The party scene didn’t care about conversation paralysis. Many were too stoned to know where their mouth was. No need to be the life of the party. No longer was it necessary to know which fork went with the soufflé or how to dab one’s lips after taking the caviar. Instead, decibels, drugs, dripping sweat and drum beats filled the communication channel of the cults.

Dreams Die Too

It did not last. The spirit burnt out. Hair was cut, suits were bought. Microsoft stock taught us how riches I Am Mad As Hellbeyond imagination were available without any effort whatsoever. Class action lawsuits blossomed to save us all from credit card fees, gas additives, video games, bad language, marijuana and prescription contraceptives. Welfare mothers bloomed. Welfare kids did not. Housing booms, one after another, financed glorious retirements in Florida, Arizona and Santa Fe. Hand me the riches without effort, sweat, payment or skill. How cool is that?

The spirit of the Sixties became just a mirage. Gains were lost. Idealism was stomped on, laughed at and out it went with the bath water. Revolutionaries grew fat, rich and now worshipped Reagan, the Bakkers and Fondue. Purpose was replaced by Surf and Turf, All-you-can-eat smorgasbords and Infinite Salad Bars. Bras were no longer burning. Damn the poor, mentally ill and homeless. Hail Ecstasy In The SixtiesWall Street, Silicon Valley, Exxon and Eight-Tracks. Polyester was the coolest thing after Afro hair, Barbie and ABBA. The Commies mellowed. America became the Number One terrorist organization.

We all have issues to deal with beyond global warming. Finessing money from the government is perhaps the top issue. Dumping clunkers, getting subsidies for this or that, building bridges to nowhere and enabling GM to remain the last dinosaur standing is the tune of the day. Americans become millionaires at a record pace. The Japanese kill whales. The Canadians kill baby seals. Africans kill Africans. Thy neighbor steals from you just as you steal from your neighbor.

Grim, isn’t it?

Why bring up ancient history? It’s because not only do dreams but so do causes that sometimes are very significant. The war to end all George W. Bush In A Tender Momentwars – the First World War of 1914 to 1918 – led to several far reaching developments as peace was restored. Democratic governments spread, even in Germany. The League of Nations was formed. Civil rights made some inroads. But in just a few years, any gain was demolished, directly leading to World War II that killed 75 million people. To say that idealism disappeared is an understatement. The result was devastating.

In the Sixties, there was idealism. Today, idealism is not among the top characterizations of our life style. That’s why we run into Internet crazies, housing bubbles and financial disasters. It is the reason we can’t deal with global warming, health care or poverty. We let Bush and Cheney rape most human rights for eight years with close to zero protest. Most think polar bears and whales are cute but let the killing go on.

Hope Is Not For Sissies

Then, once in a while, a reminder pops up to suggest realities are, after all, more significant than ignorance. Occasionally, we catch a glimpse what could be if we simply let it. Credibility of a lost cause can be restored if the effort is spent. A spot of hope lights up, suggesting truth can prevail over laziness. These little signs surface when we least expect them. Antennas need to be perfectly tuned to pick out The Icebreaker Polar Starthe good from the trash.

I am referring to an article about ice breaker maintenance, not exactly on the front page. The story covers a press conference about USCG Polar Star’s refit to upgrade crew quarters and dump an ancient computer at a cost of $62 million over 2 1/2 years. The Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, WA, will employ 250 workers on the project.

Both Seattle newspapers carried this rather mundane story. Some of you wonder why a basically ice free United States of America needs heavy duty ice breakers that cost $750 million each. That’s another debate, not due here or now. Suffice to say the US possesses only three of these babies dwarfed by, say, Russia’s seven nuclear super breakers.

It Ain’t Charity

The melting Arctic exposes enormous deposits of energy, minerals and ore as virgin land is freed from ice. Vital interests, strategic values and suddenly discovered traditional heritages must be defended The Gun Boat SMS Panthervigorously. Grab what grab you can. Santa, drop dead. Buy a Manhattan condo.

The ice breakers of today and the future do not just break ice but practice gun boat diplomacy. Gun boats intimidate opposing parties with its mere presence in some disputed area without using weapons per se.

The US famously practiced gun boat diplomacy in the Taiwan Strait at several occasions in the Fifties, protecting Taiwan from invasion by China. Of course, the overwhelming might of today’s US Navy acts as an everyday form of global gun boat diplomacy. But aircraft carrier groups are useless in the far North, hence the need for the ice breakers.

On My Command, Turn Left

Somewhere the focus of the Coast Guard press conference changed. The subject of global warming popped up, not really to the pleasure of the Coast Guard brass. Disaster In The IceBut ice breakers go where the ice is. Ice is easily found in the Arctic and the Antarctica. Given the mission, these guys carry a great deal of on-location, unique credibility about the far North and South conditions.

Ice breaker crews enjoy spending some eight months out of the year in ice. These guys generally carry a reputation of sobriety, reasonably clear minds and a relative lack of political ambition. They have seen, broken and smelt more salt water and ice than other men or women on Earth. They are not scientists eager for grant money. They don’t act in reality shows or receive Nobel Peace Prizes. They are sailors who break ice and cruise the seas. That’s it.

Finally, A Point Of Sorts

Back to the press conference and the actual point, you plead. Impatience rears its head. Suspicion blinks its pink hateful eyes. Here goes. Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard, declared himself agnostic on the subject of climate change. Not surprising since military leaders are required to be agnostic on After the Ice Meltsalmost any subject. Those turning non-agnostic soon take up golf and discover they have kids, one or more wife and assorted dogs. Suddenly the dreams of another eight months in polar resorts are gone. Take the General Supreme of all WWII Generals, Douglas MacArthur who was summarily fired by Harry Truman because the General was not sufficiently agnostic on the subject of nuking Commie China.

This particular admiral, Thad Allen, may not have spent much of his 38 year career surrounded by breaking ice in favor of a more normal sailor life. But he is, as an example, one of the few officials emerging from the Katrina disaster with an elevated reputation. That, certainly, is quite an achievement.

The admiral continued to state:

  • “Over the past 3 ½ years more ice-diminished every year in the summer. And that’s changing how the Coast Guard looks at the region. For a long time, all we did in the Arctic was science,” he said.
  • But now with more open water, there is increased viability for eco tourism and shipping. Further, “the fact that 22 percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in the arctic region — this has become an area of extreme focus.”
  • Asked if the Coast Guard is operating on the premise that climate change is a certainty, Allen said, “Well, you know I’m not a scientist, I’m a sailor. And the most PC way for me to say this is I’m agnostic to the science. There’s water where there didn’t use to be and I’m responsible for it.
  • “Certain things are undeniable. The Arctic ice cap is shrinking. The parameters of our oceans are changing. Temperature is changing. Salinity is changing. We have carbon dioxide that’s entering the water column right now making carbonic acid that has a significant impact on shellfish and the food chain. These are all undeniable.”

There you have it. One single key word: “Undeniable”. Spoken by, according to eye witnesses, a sober, clear minded and sincere admiral with far more real life blue water credentials than scientists in their labs, amateur skeptics in their parka lounges, brain-dead senators from Oklahoma and an ex-president finally able to let someone else deep-six this climate change thing.

Two Alaskan Republicans

It may be that some of the admiral’s comments were inspired by the opinions of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who also has some firsthand knowledge of the North. A moderate Republican, she was a major sponsor of the Polar Star refit. She wants to build an Arctic deep water port to serve the military, the offshore oil and gas industry, general shipping and tourism. Exploitation, here we come.Sarah Palin Killing A Caribou Stand aside, please. We got holes to drill.

There is nothing moderate about Sarah Palin. This most Northern of all global warming deniers manages to stand to the right of even Dubya. “We need to drill, drill, drill,” she told the Wall Street Journal. Ecology be damned. This gal’s wildlife policy centers on the right to shoot wolves from the air. In fact, shooting anything is cool with her. Polar bears, drop dead. Caribou, get lost. Her attachment to the Arctic is spelled Arctic Cats, a brand of snow machines that she promotes no doubt out of charity. How does she spell the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? “Drill, drill, drill”. Did I mention the slyest of ignorance?

Hails To The Chief

Walrusses On Melting IceThe Coast Guard admiral knows well that his “Undeniable” statement will not create a better world any time soon. If we are lucky, eventually someone will show up with the will, the answers and the power to tackle the quagmire swamp labeled global warming. That someone will yell “Which part of “Undeniable” don’t you get?”

After all, some manipulate the “Undeniables” to look like “Deniables” and vice versa. Either way, to cynics it is just the means to suit one’s goals. As any skeptic knows, denying the undeniable is a game that can be played as long as it pleases you. Ask Dubya and other sellers of snake oil.

Undeniable Means Undeniable. Get Used To It.

Wait, There Is More!

If the concerns about ecology are the good news, there is also bad news. Global warming is not the only threat tilting the scale. The Arctic may the next Ultimate Border to be as exploited as, once about a time, the US West. More recently, Alaska is the Far Border undergoing massive exploitation. Far North Pipelines

Consider, say, Love Canal just by the Niagara Falls with polluting roots going all the way back to 1890. It took 26 years of FEMA Super Funds to clean up some of that mess. If Exxon Valdez had done its thing in any of the Northern Passages, that oil would have circled Earth, bourn by prevailing currents that do not exist in the relatively protected Prince William’s Sound. Twenty years after the disaster, 26,000 gallons of oil remain on and inside the close-by shorelines.

Thad Allen’s first point concerned global warming. Ice is disappearing, salination is changing and species are dying or migrating. As tundra thaws and ice melts, billions of tons of methane and other gasses are released. Inuit villages sink in mud. Roads disappear. Scientists can’t decide if this is the end of the world or not. Ask the inhabitants of Banks Island in Canada’s High Arctic what they think.

Steer North, My Lad

Allen’s second point is not to be missed. He mentioned 22% of Earth’s oil and gas reserves are located in the Arctic. That is quite an understatement. Both the Northeast and Northwest Passages above RussiaOil Spill From Sinking Carrier and Canada, mostly, are becoming navigated. Historically, both passages were almost completely closed year around. Many a brave explorer saw his ship caught in an iron grip of ice that slowly crushed the vessel, leaving the men to a cold and deadly ice level existence.

Currently, both passages are open part of the year as the sea ice retreats. Neither passage is easily tackled even today. Ships need reinforced bows to avoid the fate of the explorers whose trails they follow. There is no doubt, though, that there will be commercial shipping in the far North passages.

Extreme Focus

The Nortwest And Northeast PassagesThe impact of the Northern passages opening up is almost beyond comprehension. The first major impact concerns shipping. Some of the shipping through the Panama and Suez canals would move to the passages with possibly major savings in fuel. As shipping routes change, the political issues explode. With the passages frozen over, political concerns were minor. That will not be the case in the future. Allen addressed this when he said the North not would but IS an “area of extreme focus” and it is the real reason Polar Star gets a $62 million to take up station in the North.

The military value of the Arctic Ocean all the way to the North Pole is long established. It has long been the hide and seek confrontational grounds of US and Russian/Soviet nuclear subs. In the summer of 1958, the USS Nautilus reached the North Pole under the ice, entering from the Bering Sea and surfacing just north of Greenland. Nuclear subs have trafficked the area ever since.

Greed, Anyone?

Then there is the matter of huge values being exposed as frozen ground retreat. With the passages Spitzbergen Coal Minebecoming navigated, it is feasible to reach these new resources and retrieve them. Oil and gas will be the first target. Fishery and wild life will follow. Eventually, there will be agriculture and forestry. Tourism will blossom according to breathless cruise directors.

Mining is possibly the greatest ecological threat as well as one of the most irresistible resources. There are known deposits of diamonds, gold, coal, nickel, lead, zinc and uranium. Some of these resources are already exploited, usually at a low level and with mixed results. But the vast areas suddenly exposed will change conditions dramatically. The full impact isn’t known but is likely to be huge.

Who owns the Northern riches? The Inuit? Fat chance. Denmark/Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the US and Canada are not giving any possible claim away. A traditional 200 mile limit leaves huge areas unclaimed. No one owns the North Pole although the Russians placed their flag at its bottom, 14,000 feet below the surface. Trucking On The Ice

China recently entered the race. “China is slowly but steadily recognizing the commercial and strategic opportunities that will arise from an ice-free Arctic,” said SIPRI researcher Linda Jakobson of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “China is at a disadvantage as it is not an Arctic state but is still keen to have the right to access natural resources.” Beijing has decided to build a high-tech icebreaker for polar expeditions to be operational near 2013.

The territorial claims are not well established since till recently they were mostly worthless. Suddenly awakened governments now compete to extend the claims. The matter is negotiated in several multinational bodies, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Arctic Ocean Conference. Meanwhile, the Exxons and Statoils of the world will rape what they can without thought to the consequences or obscure national claims.

Just Don’t Drink The Water

Unfortunately, these areas, so likely to be exploited to the limits, are extremely vulnerable ecologically, being stripped of protection. An industrial attack is sure to cause catastrophe not only locally but in your Air Currents Carrying Polutio9n To The Poleneighborhood. Currents will carry the disaster from the Atlantic to the Pacific and then back to the Atlantic, picking up poisonous strength by the mile.

The Arctic Ocean controls the climate in most of the Northern Hemisphere. Upsetting that utterly complex balance is not a good thing. At the present, much of the Arctic is pristine but highly toxic pockets are spreading. The Russians, for instance, dump their nuclear waste in Arctic waters.

The Arctic haze at high altitude is the main reason Arctic temperatures are on the rise. The heat trapping haze is made up of pollutants originating in CO2 producing sources thousands of miles away. Humans and animals suffer from PCB accumulations.

One Day After Allen

The obscure Polar Star announcement by Thad Allen didn’t go as unnoticed as its modesty suggests. The next day, Canadians raised an eye brow or two. William Rompkey, a Liberal senator, said the U.S. Far North Canadian Inuit Villagegovernment’s $62 million plan to reactivate the 34-year-old, 130-metre Polar Star shows the emerging urgency in the Northwest Passage.

Canada need more ships in the region quickly, or faces “chaos” in the Northwest Passage. “If we’re saying this is our territory, we’ve got to be there,” Rompkey said. “Or we’ve got to stop saying it’s our territory.”

The Canadian government announced plans in 2008 for a new, $720-million polar-class icebreaker. But a contract for such a vessel has not been signed. At best, this polar class ice breaker will be operational by 2017. Canada does not have the equivalent of the Polar Star. Both the US and Canada have far less capabilities than Russia or even Finland.

Post Mortem

Wildlife in Pruhoe BayHere is a curious fact. Both Seattle web papers (The Times and the PI) carried at least three different versions of this not very remarkable article, published within hours. The later versions consistently downplayed the admiral’s statements on climate change. You tell me? Is this a coincident or not? In the bad old days, one would need to check for Cheney’s presence. Or is Palin lurking behind that corner over there?

Meanwhile, stay cool.

Karl

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