VOX - The Final Frontiers: Arctic and Space

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


VOX - a student run academic journal for Philosophy, Politics and Economics - discuss some issues around the increasingly accessible regions of the arctic and space and the impacts these will have on humans.

Text of VOX - The Final Frontiers: Arctic and Space

  • THE STUDENT JOURNAL OF POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND PHILOSOPHYPublished termly by the Club of PEP at the University of YorkVOX

    The Final Frontiers

    Arctic & Space

  • 2 As the pace of globalization increases, our natural resources deplete and both old and new geo-political tensions are revitalized. The human craving for development and enrichment is only modestly tethered by technological and environmental constraints. The two remaining realms of opportunity largely untouched by the human hand are the Final Frontiers - Space and the Arctic. Advanced minds are enticed by the highly profitable opportunities presented by these cold, uninhabitable and resource rich places. But how long will they remain cold and uninhabitable? Diminishing environmental and technological constraints have unshackled research and development as the arctic warms and man-made probes land on comets. This condensed autumn issue seeks to discuss what the consequences of our relentless drive into the Final Frontiers are, and discover if there are any viable paths worth taking. Tensions threatening to develop into something greater than disagreement in the Arctic, and the catastrophe of Virgin Galactics SpaceShipTwo indicate that as long as substantial risks exist, there must be a debate about our way forward into the unknown.

    Starting our discussion, Philip Preoteasa argues that both the public and private sector are vital in our conquest of Space. Next Kjersti Haugland Ns outlines the great risk of conflict escalation in the Arctic unless institutional reform is implemented, especially given Russias current military ambitions. Finally Audra Mitchell questions the commonly held belief that Space can be colonized without ethical difficulties.We hope you enjoy reading the experimental topic that weve chosen as much as weve enjoyed working on it. Perhaps our own venture into a new frontier, we feel it offers something quite different from the standard interdisciplinary issues discussed within Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

    An especial thank you must go to Laurie Woodgate for his untiring effort with this untried theme.


    Editorial tEam

    Proof Readers:Nadia SetiabudiIda Sjberg

    Content Editors:Hannah BennettElizabeth Davies

    Editors-In-Chief: Raphael ReubenOscar Stenbohm

    Front Cover - Tommy Ellassen

    Layout Editor: Raphael Reuben

    Web Officer:Jack Turner

    Phillip JungMartin KbrtThomas McAuliffeJack ReevesThomas TozerKatherine TylerLaurie Woodgate

    Journal Secretary: Shuangying Han

    Editors-In-Chief: Raphael Reuben & Oscar Stenbohm



    VOX is published triannually by the Club of PEP at the University of York and distributed on Yorks campus as well as

    other universities world-wide.

    VOX is an academic journal run by students that provides a platform for the exchange of ideas and offers insight into debates relating to Politics, Economics and Philosophy (PEP).

    Planet B (C, D, E)?Dr. Audra Mitchell

    Better Safe Than Sorry: Russian- Arctic tensions and the need for institutional reform Kjersti Haugland Naes



    Front Cover - Tommy Ellassen

    How beneficial to humanitys advances into the final frontier will the development of private space sector be?Filip Ioan Preoteasa



  • VOX | The STudenT JOurnal Of POliTicS, ecOnOmicS and PhilOSOPhy iSSue XXiV - auTumn 2014


    BEttEr SafE than Sorry:

    Climate change is rapidly transforming the Arctic region, changing its geostrategic dynamics. Ironically, due to the negative effects of climate change, the previously inaccessible Arctic areas are now becoming available for resource extraction and increased commercial activity. According to estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic could contain approximately 13 percent of the worlds undiscovered oil and up to 30 percent of the worlds undiscovered natural gas resources (Blunden,2009:122). Furthermore, the Arctic holds huge fresh water reserves and other mineral resources. As current changes are generating vast economic opportunities, they are also creating issues due to the renewed geopolitical value. Excluding Russia, the Arctic littoral

    states are all NATO- members. Therefore, alongside growing military activity, the NATO states are undertaking closer security and defence cooperation. As the Arctic has long been of importance to Russia, both in terms of economic development and international position, Russia is becoming increasingly attentive to NATOs presence. Even though security concerns are getting stronger, no institution can address matters related to security. Yet, the Arctic states claim there is no need for reform. Furthermore, once the resources become more accessible for extraction, and military and commercial activity increase, it is unlikely that security concerns will diminish. If anything, tensions will only escalate.

    Russian- Arctic tensions and the need for institutional reform

    Kjersti Haugland Naes

  • VOX | The STudenT JOurnal Of POliTicS, ecOnOmicS and PhilOSOPhy iSSue XXiV - auTumn 2014


    This paper will argue that Russias contradictory behaviour, combined with the close defence cooperation among Western states, is fuelling mistrust and creating tensions. Current institutions are not adequately dealing with these tensions, as they do not offer a mechanism in which to do so. If the need for institutional reform continues to be ignored, disputes could transform into conflicts. Admittedly it is unlikely that there will be a full- blown military confrontation between the Arctic states. However, the status quo of states jostling for position in anticipation of further evolution in drilling & exploration technology with continuing global warming provides a unique window of opportunity. It will be argued that the current relative lull should be used to form binding institutional structures that will greatly reduce the severity of future conundrums when the situation deteriorates.

    A Changing Arctic

    The Arctic is mainly made up of ocean, which is covered by a large ice sheet, but it does also consist of some dry land. It covers over a sixth of the worlds landmass (Mru,2013). No state owns the Arctic, but parts of the Arctic Ocean

    could arguably be claimed to be sovereign territory through a geologically proven extension of the surrounding states continental shelves. This claim can be made by the Arctic littoral states; Russia, USA, Norway, Denmark (through Greenland) and Canada. There are also three further Arctic states with territory above the Arctic Circle; Sweden, Iceland and Finland (Arctic Centre,2014).

    The interest in exploring the resources in the Arctic became stronger in 2008 when the U.S. Geological Survey was released, claiming the region holds large deposits of oil, gas and minerals. At the moment, it would be quite dangerous and difficult to retrieve those natural resources. However, with a further decrease of the icecap and developing technology, the Arctic region poses as a prospective area for oil and gas extraction (Mru,2013:9). Findings show that there are over 400 oil and gas fields above the Arctic Circle. These account for approximately 40 billion barrels of oil, more than 1100 trillion cubic feet of gas and 8.5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids (USGS,2008).

    Having a strong functioning forum to address any misunderstandings or concerns regarding security is essential

    to ensure lasting cooperation and to effectively counteract tensions. Recent events in Ukraine have clearly shown the need for continuous effective dialogue, as a lack of communication

    exasperates the fog of war that mars lasting solutions

  • VOX | The STudenT JOurnal Of POliTicS, ecOnOmicS and PhilOSOPhy iSSue XXiV - auTumn 2014


    The importance of the Arctic for Russia: Strategic, economic & military

    Russian leaders repeatedly refer to the Arctic as an important strategic resource base for Russia. In 2008 Dmitry Medvedev re-emphasised the regions strategic importance at the Russian Security Council and further stated that Arctic resources were directly linked to Russias future performance in global markets. Margaret Blunden argues that Russias Arctic objectives are associated with the countrys desire to regain a great power status. Furthermore, she claims that the Arctic strategy is a part of a wider goal to create a northern identity (Blunden,2009:125).

    Energy security has been increasingly linked to Russian national security since Putins second presidential term. In the 2009 National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2020 (NSS), the importance of energy in regards to security was mentioned more than five times. The strategy furthermore states that Russias international position and strength depends upon its resources and energy reserves (Bratukhina,2011:41). Thus, having a strong presence in the Arctic region and securing the resources that may soon become available is of vital

    importance to Russia, both in terms of economic development and international position. Moreover, on a strategic and military level the Arctic holds great value as it gives Russia the prospect of ensuring the Russian fleet free access to the Atlantic. This has significance for the maint