Saturday, December 14, 2019

Santa Claus is moving to Siberia

Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, and scientists say that the North Pole is moving so... счастливого Рождества!
Magnetic north, the point on the planet’s surface toward which your conventional compass points, is created by the churning of molten metal in Earth’s core, which creates huge electrical currents to produce the magnetic field.

Commenting on the freshly-released magnetic north pole data, Dr. Ciaran Beggan, a geophysicist and geomagnetic specialist from the British Geological Survey’s Edinburgh office, told FT that although the movement of the pole has been “much faster” since the 1990s “than at any time for at least four centuries,” scientists “really don’t know much about the changes in the core that’s driving it.”

With the pole passing the Greenwich meridian and continuing its race east, humanity is entering the unknown, scientifically speaking, since, from the time records of the magnetic north pole’s position have been kept starting in the 16th century, the pole had drifted around the Canadian Arctic.
 The speed of the shift is expected to slow down, scientists say. But it has been moving between 40km and 55km annually.  No one appears to know where it will end up, or even if it will stop moving at all.

Does this all this have geopolitical implications? Of course it does.  Because? You guessed it--climate change.
The melting of the Arctic ice will have not only environmental impacts but geopolitical implications too. It will likely reveal enormous oil and gas reserves. And the Northern Sea Route now emerging is a transport corridor with huge commercial and military potential, shortening the route from Asia to Europe by 35-40 percent in comparison with the route via the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal.

Few investors are currently looking for new resources very far north but as the ice melts, more and more energy companies are considering their options. Meanwhile, just this summer Venta Maersk became the first commercial container ship to complete a successful trip from Vladivostok to St Petersburg along the Northern Sea Route. Earlier in the year, Russian gas company Novatek shipped a cargo of LNG to China, taking just 19 days instead of the usual 35 that the Suez route takes. Navigable seas mean that Russia can export its own LNG much more easily and thus unlock supplies from its remote Siberian fields. This in itself is an immense economic opportunity for Moscow.

Climate change also means that the navigation period is getting longer. And for colder times Russia has an impressive fleet at its disposal: 40 icebreakers, including nuclear ones. Nuclear icebreakers are superior to their diesel-powered counterparts: they can cut through much thicker ice and are easier to manage as they do not need refuelling in the inaccessible north.

Russia is not alone in the Arctic, of course. The United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland all have territory that lies within the Arctic Circle. Yet other countries beyond these would like a piece of the pie, arguing that the Arctic belongs to nobody and that it is a “global commons.” China – nowhere near the Arctic – declared itself a “polar superpower” in 2014. In 2018 it issued its Arctic Policy, in which it vows to pursue its interests in the region. China is now investing in its fleet of icebreakers and intends to cooperate to build a “polar silk road.”
This makes perfect sense. Russia would like nothing better than to control the North Pole and annex Santa's workshop. Everyone knows that while Santa's workshop is at the North Pole and technically independent, he's outsourced actual manufacturing to China.

China just wants to make sure that any trade agreement they agree to will protect their trade route to Santa's workshop. Otherwise Russia, their centuries-long perennial rival to the north will gain total control of the Yuletide commercial enterprise that everyone's compass points to. We will all have to say 'Merry Christmas!" in Russian, or "счастливого Рождества!"


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