For generations, Santa Claus’ home has been in the North Pole, which on any current map is clearly in Canada.
That may change over the next decade, as scientists and politicians debate whether or not the shrinking ice caps on top of our planet are actually in Denmark, or Russia instead.
Last week, Canada’s department of Foreign Affairs submitted a formal scientific study to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, claiming a region of 1.2 million square kilometers of the Atlantic Ocean belong to Canada.
However, even Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird admits the study is preliminary and needs more work: “That’s why we’ve asked our officials and scientists to do additional necessary work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada’s claim to the North Pole,” he said recently.
The undersea Lomonosov Ridge runs from about Ellemsere Island, northward over the North Pole, and would be the basis for Canada’s claim that Santa’s Home – the North Pole – is still part of Canada.
However, that ridge also extends to Russia and Denmark according to Arctic experts. This could change the political landscape of the top of the world – placing the North Pole outside of Canadian jurisdiction.
That’s what’s really is at issue, political control over the Arctic, because he or she who controls the north, controls the riches of its natural resources below.
Ironic, because when American explorer Robert Peary claimed the North Pole for America in 1909, then American President William Howard Taft, was so disinterested in it, he essentially told him ‘thanks, but not interested.’
That all changed during the Cold War, when it became clear that the two superpowers Russia and the States could use the far north strategically to spy on each other.
More recently, scientific studies have shown how rich the Arctic is in natural resources.
Geologists estimate about 20 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas may lie deep in the seabed, some say over 90 billion barrels of oil could be hidden in the Arctic floor. That’s enough to supply the modern world’s current demands for three years.
An American geological survey says there could be 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the area – that’s approximately one-third of the world’s current reserves.
As we consume these fossil fuels, global temperatures rise, melting the polar ice caps – making it easier for the petroleum industry to find the hidden natural resources of the Arctic.
And as the polar ice caps melt, shipping routes once thought part of folk lore suddenly reveal themselves too.
High summer temperatures in 2007 melted enough ice that the Northwest Passage – the famously fabled shipping route through the Arctic between the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans – opened up for the first time in recorded history, creating a new shortcut for transporting goods great distances.
This could result in trillions of dollars worth of goods being shipped across the globe, in significantly less time.
For example, China’s ships usually go a longer route from China to Europe and North America through the Suez Canal. By cutting through the Northwest Passage, they save about 5,000 miles – and China’s exports totaled $1.2 trillion in 2009.
The opening of the Northwest Passage will increase the already phenomenal dollar value of products sent across the globe, as time is money, and time will be cut substantially for many shipping companies.
It also raises the concerns of what may be shipped through this new shortcut, from illegally smuggled goods, to weapons, even illegal immigrants too.
This is of great concern to who claims the Arctic, because ultimately they will be responsible for policing the Great White North, to keep everyone safe.
Canada’s military is prepared for this, and has already conducted training missions to prevent human smuggling through the north. The Canadian government spent $16.5 million in 2012 on such operations.
So although Santa’s home country may be in question, the bigger issue is – who controls the north?