Scott Borgerson

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The North Pole is under siege by global warming. The sea ice there has lost half its thickness in the past six years, and all signs point to further rapid melting. By 2013, the entire Arctic could be devoid of ice in summer, and the region is likely to experience an influx of shipping, fishing and tourism. Russia planted its flag in the North Pole’s ocean floor two years ago, and other northern nations find themselves under mounting pressure to lay claim to huge swaths of the seabed. Before the land grab goes too far, the nations most involved should turn the northernmost part of the Arctic into a great park — a marine preserve that protects the polar environment and serves as a center for peaceful, international scientific research.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aboard Training Vessel Arctic Tern, off Newport, R.I.

Russia’s flag-planting caper at the North Pole last week captured the world’s attention. Harking back to the heady days of colonial imperialism and perhaps the success of Sputnik, a resurgent Russia dispatched from Murmansk a nuclear-powered icebreaker and a research vessel armed with two mini-submarines to stake a symbolic claim to the Arctic Ocean’s riches. Russia hopes that leaving its flag encased in titanium more than 13,200 feet beneath the frozen surface bolsters its 2001 claim that the Lomonosov Ridge is a geological extension of its continental shelf and thus the 460,000 square miles of resource-rich Arctic waters stretching from the North Pole to Eurasia fall under the Kremlin’s jurisdiction.…  Seguir leyendo »

In October President Bush signed the Safe Port Act, authorizing an investment of $6.7 billion to tighten security at American ports. This is a vitally important and overdue step. But it ignores another major problem in maritime commerce: the phenomenal decline of American shipping.

While it’s true that the United States Navy still dominates the world ocean — its total tonnage equals the combined tonnage of the next 17 smaller navies — American commercial shipping is but a puny remnant of its former self.

In 1948, more than a third of the world’s merchant fleet flew the stars and stripes; today that figure is down to 2 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »