- Tom Casey, US State Department
I had several good stories to choose from this week, but finally decided that yesterday's Russian expedition took the cake. If you weren't aware, Russia just completed a roughly 14,000-foot dive with two submersibles to (among other things) plant a Russian flag on the seabed at the geographic North Pole. They claim that was all that was needed to declare their sovereignty over the sea floor, laying hopeful claim to what should be extensive oil and mineral reserves.
Russia claims that a deep-sea ridge on the Arctic Sea floor is an extension of the Eurasian continental shelf, which it says is under its jurisdiction...so the quick corrolary is. via plate tectonics, their piece of continent goes under the North Pole and therefore they 'own' it.
"Look, this isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say 'We're claiming this territory'."
- Peter Mackay, Canada minister of foreign affairs
You tell 'em Pete. Just ignore that's exactly what European culture did to our own continent.
So, let me understand this...it's okay we did such things then, but just not now, is that how it works? To this day we continue to look the other way over wrongs that have never been even slightly righted right here under our noses. "Wasicu" (wah-SEE-choo), Lakota for White Man (aka Fat Eater) confounded Native Americans on many ideologies, and the idea over 'owning' land at all was very unnatural. It was a dark, ugly greed that served only to destroy not only the land but it's rightful inhabitants.
The whole Russian sub thing actually made me chuckle. Russia will resubmit it's legal ownership assertion in 2009 to the U.N for a ruling. Their earlier claim was dismissed due to "a lack of evidence."
I mentioned at the start this is for the geographic North Pole, where you can stand and every direction is South. The magnetic North Pole is actually under Hudson Bay in Canada, quite removed from the geographic pole. The angular difference from where a compass points to the physical pole is called "declination", and when you use topographic maps for orienteering and getting through wilderness, you have to readjust the compass to match the decliniation, provided on maps in some corner. Here in NC it ranges from 4 to 10 degrees (west to east)...in Maine, it's over 20 degrees. If you don't know about declination and are using a map in the wilds of New England to get from A to B, well...for the most part you're screwed.
(all photos above are from the Associate Press)