Norway contemplates far-north drilling, melting ice reveals new islands

As climate change alters the landscape of the Arctic, Norwegians are having a rough go of it. They face a more hospitable climate, an even better financial situation, and more land. “It’s very challenging for a very wealthy nation, knowing this will be a positive change,” said the director of the Norwegian Polar Institute. The oil and gas rich Arctic region has already made Norway the world’s third-largest natural-gas exporter and its fifth-largest oil exporter, and now the Arctic’s rapid melting could boost output still further by making drilling easier in the far north. Earlier this month, Russia touched off a frenzied scramble for undersea drilling rights near the North Pole that’s also seen Denmark, Canada, and the U.S. salivate over underwater geologic potential. Meanwhile, Norwegians are torn between opportunity and responsibility. The record-low sea ice this summer bestowed yet more gifts on Norway. Emerging from the edges of its territory of Svalbard are new islands where glaciers used to be. “They haven’t been claimed yet,” said one official. Grist claims the islands on behalf of all those poor rich people whose summer homes will be underwater soon.

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