Search and Rescue in the High North: An Air Force Mission?
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIR FORCE RESEARCH INST
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The Bard of the Yukon would be surprised at the strange new things in the land of the midnight sun. What wouldnt surprise him are the things that never change six months of darkness, constant danger, numbing cold, and adventurers planning to brave all three in search of fame, fortune, or just a good look around. Some of their motivations include untapped oil and natural gas deposits, unprecedented to known history melting of Arctic ice, a quest for territorial rights, the lure of the fabled Northwest Passage, and adventure tourism. All have resulted in greatly increased human activity and with that comes the increased risk of human calamity by the unwise, the unprepared, or the unlucky. Capt Melissa Bert, former captain of the port and commander of Coast Guard Sector Juneau, echoes these concerns I dont worry about a war in the Arctic. . . . But I do worry that were not prepared to deal with a major disaster there. No one is, but as more people go there, it becomes much more likely. The 2008 US Geological Survey estimate of High North energy resources, considered the most authoritative survey to date, suggests that 13 percent of the worlds undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas lie in the Arctic. This amounts to approximately 90 billion barrels of oil 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of liquid natural gas a total exceeding all other known quantities of oil and natural gas in the Arctic. Since most Arctic territory has been claimed, in practical terms the race for these exploitable natural resources is just about over. However, economic exploitation via leasing rights and transportation nodes remain as two powerful incentives.
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