Focus seems terribly important in charting a future. Canadians and Americans are fond of warm sunny beaches and tropical cocktails. But while these North American neighbors have been spending their winters basking in southern sunshine the Russians have not.
We tend to look upon the Arctic as Nature's undeveloped wilderness and, as good conservationists, we want to keep the North that way. Yes, we have conceded to a limited oil development on the Northern Slope of Alaska, but we have insisted that we don't want to despoil one of the planet's last wildernesses. During the Cold War we lined the Arctic with airbases and listening posts figuring that the best access to the South was over the Pole. Well, such military vigilance is no longer necessary.
The Russians see things differently. They see the Arctic as a natural land growth of Mother Russia. Russian populations have settled along the northern rim of their homeland. In cold climates they have built cities with massive industries. Shipping has been developed along the northern shoreline and 41 icebreakers force passage for their ships to travel through ice year round.
Whatever one's views about preserving Nature in the North, it must be granted that the Arctic will become more rather than less important in the future. Global warming is opening up nautical passageways that were once blocked. And with this, comes the exploitation of natural resources.
I wrote the thriller novel Nunavut to draw attention to what this Canadian territory offers, and, of course, it raises debate between industry and conservation. The time is now for this debate. And while we talk, the Russians are developing.
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About the Author
ROGER HERST is the author of Nunavut: An Arctic Thriller and the Rabbi Gabrielle Series. A native of San Francisco, he has written nine novels, a series of scholarly articles and lectured extensively in academic and non-academic circles. He is an ordained Reform Rabbi with a doctorate in Middle Eastern History, holding undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew Union College. His home for the past 30 years has been Washington, DC where he lives with his physician wife.website * Twitter
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