The Arctic is the “last frontier.” Its harsh conditions, severe storms, ice cover, and long periods of darkness have made human exploration and habitation difficult. However, due to climate change, melting sea ice is opening up the Arctic like never before.
Over the next several years, the future of the Arctic will be determined. As one of five countries with a coast on the Arctic Ocean, actions by the United States will play a large part in the future of the Arctic. However, it is unclear whether the American government’s strategic planning, infrastructure, or policy engagement in the Arctic is sufficient to meet the challenges of an opening Arctic.
There are five key examples of how the U.S. is failing to meet the challenge:
I. Energy Exploration
II. Territorial Disputes and the Law of the Sea
III. Infrastructure for Emergency Response
IV. American Military Presence
V. Managing the U.S. Presence on the Arctic Council
It is not too late. How the United States addresses these five challenges will help to determine whether the Arctic is a safe, secure venue featuring international cooperation, or whether it becomes another area of resource competition, international disagreement, and conflict.