In the last decade or so, our participation on this issue has been, to some extent, within the framework of what is happening in what I call 'the North', but what some people call the Arctic. I call the region 'the North' because I believe that we need a wider perspective and a wider geographical placement than just the Arctic. Perhaps no area in the world was as central as the Arctic during the nuclear confrontation of the Cold War, the region being in the path of bombers and missiles and the hiding spot of nuclear submarines. It is remarkable how, in the last ten years or so, we have seen various forms of cooperation in the Arctic and in the North, ranging from the creation of the Arctic Council (a body of intergovernmental cooperation), down to active institutions encompassing citizens, scientists and others.
As we all know, and as earlier chapters in this book document, the North is also a key area in terms of the debate on climate change. This is the case primarily, in my opinion, for three reasons. The first is that nowhere in the world are the traces of climate change as clear as in the North. The dramatic pictures, the scientific evidence, the territory, the melting of the ice, the transformation of the habitat for various species, the wildlife, the insects, the fishing stocks and all the other aspects of the Earth's biological existence - everything is changing. Second, experts estimate that about 25 per cent of the untapped energy resources in the world are in the North; depending on how we use the Earth's energy resources, the North could become, if not the new Middle East of the 21st century, certainly a major supplier of energy. The region has a great variety of such resources, not only gas and oil, but hydro, geothermal and others. Finally, the likely opening of the Northern Sea Route as a result of the melting sea ice might transform global trade even more than the Suez Canal did when it opened over a century ago.
While also an active participant in the debate on climate change and renewable energy, Iceland has strongly encouraged cooperation among scientists and public officials in the North. As one aspect of this effort, Iceland's Ambassador Gunnar Paulsson served as chair of the Arctic Council during completion of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which summarized the environmental concerns and the evolution of what is happening in the Arctic. For the future, we will be encouraging even more active cooperation and links among the Northern Territories and the Arctic countries. We need to further draw Russia into the discussion, not only because of the vast energy resources in Russia, but also because of the Russian scientific community and the long tradition that the Russians have of studying ice and the Northern regions.
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Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.