Global Warming is Good for Russia

The Economist is running yet another inane article, this one suggesting that global warming is good for Russia. It starts off with the bad- "This is bad for local wildlife. All over the world, species are edging towards the poles as their habitats change. But Arctic and Antarctic creatures have nowhere colder to go. Pity the polar bears. " and "Rising polar temperatures also mean bad news for many human beings—notably the 150,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. Frozen ground is turning mushy, making it hard for hunters to travel. Mosquito infestations have driven their main quarry, caribou, into the hills." However it goes on to say " The shipping industry will be able to use new short-cuts along the north coast of North America and the north coast of Russia. A newly navigable Arctic could cut thousands of miles off the journey between the Atlantic and the Pacific.The biggest beneficiary is likely to be Russia itself, which encircles almost half the Arctic Ocean. Currently uninhabitable areas will become more hospitable; currently inaccessible energy resources will become more exploitable. " The Economist suggests that "However the sea is divided up, warming is likely to make Russia richer rather than poorer. "

Hmmn. I live in Canada, which would seem to have similar conditions to Russia, including contentious northern waters, boreal forests and lots of infrastructure built on permafrost that is melting out under us. We suspect that some people here have visions of palm trees and beach resorts on Hudson Bay, and share John Diefenbaker's vision that the future of Canada lies in the North. However further south we have forests that are drying out and catching fire, farmland that might be turning into dustbowls, beetles moving north and destroying our trees, and lake levels that are dropping. We have powerful neighbours eying our water and wanting to drive tankers through our Northwest Passage. We suspect that in Russia things are no different.

Somehow picking on one issue, ease of access for shipping and energy exploration, seems an awfully narrow and unsophisticated view of who will win and who will lose from global warming. ::Economist (if it is behind a fence read summary from ::Foreign Policy here.