The Race for the Arctic

More on the race to claim the Arctic. The Russian “scientific” operation was a sham.

Despite the fact that a huge number of people were involved in the mission, it was more of a tourist trip than a scientific expedition. Two foreigners paid a substantial part of the expedition costs. According to Novaya Gazeta, the Swede Frederik Paulsen and the Australian Mike McDowel each payed 100,000 USD per day for their participation. Both men joined the two mini-subs, the Mir-1 and Mir-2, to the 4200 meter deep sea bed by the North Pole. The expedition was headed by Artur Chiligarov, deputy speaker in the lower house of the Russian parliament and a well know Soviet polar hero. The expedition was made with research vessel „Academician Fyodorov”, the flagship in the fleet of Russian research ships, and it was well orchestrated and closely followed up by the press. Both President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov officially expressed their support to the expedition members.

However, the mission had hardly any scientific purposes. The Russian scientific establishment confirm that Russia already has picked the geological samples it needs from the North Pole sea bed. As a matter of fact, another research expedition, also named “Arctica-2007” were picking geological samples in the area only two months prior to Mr. Chilingarov’s mission. Furthermore, Novaya Gazeta writes, the North Pole point is located outside the socalled Lomonosov structure, the sub-sea geological area which Russia claims to be part of the Siberian shelf.

Canada’s response…

Canada and the United States scoffed at the legal significance of the dive by a Russian mini-sub to set the flag on the seabed Thursday. “This isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and just plant flags” to claim territory, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, Peter MacKay, told reporters.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

3 comments on “The Race for the Arctic
  1. 15th century? What about American Indians? They weren’t “encouraged to live in reservations” in the 15th century… Hypocrisy I tell ya.

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