Why does everyone want the Arctic?
Taft’s indifference reflected the prevailing sentiment of the day: Why would anyone want an inhospitable, frozen wasteland?
The Cold War changed this line of thinking. Suddenly, the Arctic became a choice piece of real estate. It was the perfect surveillance point for listening in on enemies and the quickest bombing route between the Soviet Union and North America. By the 1950s, generals were eyeing the region as the strategic lynchpin for the next World War.
So, who owns the Arctic right now?
If the ice melts, who will benefit the most?
At first blush, Arctic thawing seems like bad news for an island that has 80 percent of its surface covered in ice. But from a political and financial standpoint, the warmer temperatures may be just what Greenland’s 57,000 residents need.
Although Greenland has enjoyed self-governance since 1979, the country is still a part of Denmark. In fact, Denmark props up Greenland’s economy with an annual grant of about $650 million, a subsidy that represents about a third of the island’s GDP. Without that cash, Greenland couldn’t support itself. Its exports, mainly shrimp and fish, simply don’t cover the expenses. Greenland has been taking steps towards independence for decades, but until it finds some additional streams of revenue, the island will continue to remain a Danish protectorate.