Global warming and climate change are starting a race for newly emerging assets in the Arctic.Â
An article in USA Today entitled White House sees black gold in melting sea iceÂ sets out the Bush Administration’s concerns about missing out on a bonanza unless Congress approves a treaty that helps toÂ determine who has rights to this newly accessible wealth.
On Friday July 27, as reported in this blog, RussiaÂ is trying to claim the seabed under the North Pole and mineral and oil assetsÂ byÂ planting its flag there in a titanium box.Â The United States is, of course,Â concerned about also utilizing these newly emerging assets in the Arctic.
The idea that countries can claimÂ lands and assets by planting a flag reflects international law principles derived from the Doctrine of Discovery that are many centuries old.Â
The European explorers and the colonists who arrived in the New World planted their flags and crosses in the soil and claimed sovereign, property and human rights over the indigenous people and their lands.Â This race to claim these newly accessible assets in the Arctic as ice cap melt and retreatÂ is just a repeat of the European race to the New World from the 15-19th centuries.
The Doctrine of Discovery and its use in the United States is fully explained in Miller’s book, Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny.