Arctic Boom Awash in Green Risk

Rush to tap vast mineral riches will tax area dearly without needed infrastructure
By Laila Weir,  Newser User
Posted Jul 10, 2008 1:42 PM CDT
Thick, multi-year sea ice now covers less than 30 percent of the Arctic ocean, down from more than 50 percent in the mid-1980s, Yale Environment 360 reports.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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(Newser) – As the Arctic sea ice melts, it’s uncovering vast resources, leading to an international energy and mining rush. Companies are lining up to explore the region, and nations are reviving Arctic border disputes in hopes of tapping its wealth. But the exploitation of the area’s resources could have dire environmental consequences, Ed Struzik writes on Yale Environment 360.

Transporting goods out of the area, by ship or land, will disrupt important animal mating and migration grounds. The biggest risk, though, is an oil slick that "could make the 2-year, $2 billion clean-up of the Exxon Valdez look like a kitchen spill," Struzik writes. Asks one expert, “How would you get a cleanup crew on site with no port or airstrip? We just don't have the infrastructure.”