Journalist Terry Macalister spent the Michaelmas Term 2010 at Wolfson as a Press Fellow investigating the commercial and environmental impact of rapid industrialisation in the Arctic region. His work has now been published as an ebook in the 'Guardian shorts' series - Polar Opposites: Opportunities and threats in the Arctic.
A new race to the North Pole is underway ? but not on sleds by bearded and wild-eyed adventurers looking for new challenges. The latest pioneers tend to be clean-shaven, hard-nosed salesmen in scheduled aircraft flying in to make money out of a bleak landscape. Cold is the new hot for Big Business and the melting ice caps have triggered a flurry of oil drilling, ore digging and bulk shipping. The chilly waters off Alaska, Siberia and Greenland have all been earmarked for new energy exploration. Mega-mines, such as the Mary river ore deposits in Canada and 300 miles inside the Arctic Circle, are being prepared for exploitation.
This ebook looks at the commercial opportunities brought about by the fast-developing industrialisation of the far north, together with the attendant environmental threats and challenges to the traditional way of life of the indigenous peoples of the region. It is a topic that can only become more headline dominating and controversial, and this collection of Guardian writing provides an indispensable overview of an increasingly pressing matter.