Vice president of the Norwegian Academy of Polar Research lectures on the frigid politics governing the Arctic Ocean
By Mel Natwick, ’12
Mutually supporting region is just more than a body of water
One of the coldest places on Earth has become one of the interdependent regions filled with industrialized and militarized resources.
The Wang Center Symposium “Our Thirsty Planet” continued Friday with Vice President Norwegian Academy of Polar Research Willy Østreng speaking on the topic of the Arctic Ocean and its geopolitics of economy, climate change and military security at the University Center at Pacific Lutheran University.
Østreng has published more than 250 scientific works on “polar affairs and international security, ocean resource management, polar and ocean policy and on the preconditions of interdisciplinary research,” according to the PLU website.
Around 50 people attended the lecture.
Østreng talked about five interdependent geopolitical features of the Arctic: the location, global warming and dwindling sea ice regime, the assumed abundance of industrial resources, technological development and the configuration and distribution of the polar seabed.
He described the Arctic Ocean as a “highly militarized region” because of the short distances between the three continents: North America, Asia and Europe.
First-year Joel Teats attended the lecture and could not believe the amount of resources that were in the Arctic Ocean.
“It’s interesting that the Arctic Ocean is more of a military area than an industrial area,” Teats said.
Østreng also talked about the transportation routes and how it decreases travel time. One of those passages is the Northwest passage, which runs along the northern coasts of North America and runs through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago connecting to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
This part of the presentation grabbed junior Nick Kaylor’s attention.
“It’s amazing how much time you can save by going through the Arctic compared to the Suez and Panama Canals,” he said.
Teats and Kaylor described Østreng’s presentation as “interesting” and “informative.”