However, experts still argue what the optimal strategy for exploring the Arctic’s resources should be like.
According to estimations of the World Wildlife Fund, at present, for the needs of the mankind to be fully satisfied, it needs a 1.5 times bigger amount of natural resources than the amount which is already being exploited. However, the good news is that the Arctic region holds the necessary amount of natural resources, still untouched by man. But there is also bad news, which is that people still haven’t any technologies that can allow exploiting the Arctic’s natural riches without destroying its fragile ecology.
US scientists say that there are about 90 bln barrels of oil and 44 bln barrels of natural gas in the Arctic.
“Today, both economical interests and the interests of preserving nature demand ecologically harmless technologies of exploiting natural resources,” the Director of the Institute of Industrial Ecology of the North Vladimir Masloboev says.
“The resources of the Arctic should be exploited very economically. The main attention should probably be paid to water resources. In the Arctic, the waters are especially vulnerable to pollution.”
As it is known, in 2010, a powerful explosion took place at an oil platform, which belongs to the British Petroleum company, in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, 5 mln barrels (which equals to 800 mln liters) of oil leaked into the water. This was one of the largest ecological catastrophes in the whole history. The oil spill that formed on the surface of the water, and that is still there, is 75 kms in diameter and 350 meters thick. The spill is considerably slowing the Gulf Stream current, which may have catastrophic consequences, including unpredictable climate changes in Europe.
“Oil producers and exploiters of other natural resources should always remember the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico,” an expert in chemical security Valery Petrosyan says. “They should remember that nature’s resources need a very careful approach, and this is especially true for the riches of the Arctic.”
“The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico happened two years ago,” Professor Petrosyan says, “but its consequences are still presenting a big threat to the world’s ecology. At present, Russia, the countries of Scandinavia and other countries are intending a number of projects of exploiting the riches of the Arctic, especially, of the Barents Sea. I believe that before starting all these projects, expeditions should be sent to the Barents Sea for a very thorough investigation of the sites which are going to be exploited.”
However, a threat of environment pollution in the Arctic comes not only from industrial enterprises. More and more people are starting to come to the Arctic as tourists, and, sometimes, they care so little about the environment that it has also started to present a serious threat.
An international forum devoted to problems of the Arctic, called “The Arctic – a Territory of Dialogue” has already been held two times, in 2010 and 2011. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has suggested to devote the next such forum to problems of environmental protection in the Arctic. People need new, environmentally harmless technologies of exploiting nature’s riches in order to eliminate the consequences of their former mistakes and not make any new ones, Mr. Putin believes.