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Global Warming Impacts on Canadian Arctic Security Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 23rd, 2020


The onset of global warming has resulted in a significant rise in temperatures and the melting of ice in the Arctic region. Diminishing of ice in the Canadian Arctic ice implies an increase in the size of accessible land. Accessibility of the Arctic will in no doubt raise the question of the sovereignty and security status of Canada. Since the Arctic region is endowed with about 37% of world’s unexploited resources, conflict over boundaries, resources, and shipping will definitely arise over the area (Griffiths 257).

Canada has settled most of its population in its islands apart from one island. This situation gives her the legitimacy to claim sovereignty over the region. International law gives Canada the authority to claim control of its coastline in the Arctic for 200 nautical miles. However, conflict over international free waters, straits, and/or how they are defined affects Canada’s interest in the Arctic. In the past, the country had a conflict with countries such as the US concerning the Arctic region. During the cold war, Canada defended its interest in the Arctic from Russia. Countries such as the US, Russia, Denmark, and Finland, which have a coastline with the Arctic, have begun preparing their navies and resources towards more ventures into the Arctic.

Hence, Canada’s Arctic sovereignty is at stake. Although Canada has remained quiet over the Arctic, the question of whether it will be able to regulate shipping, mining, and exploitation of the Arctic is yet to be seen (Griffiths 258). Moreover, states that are far from the Canadian Arctic such as Japan, China, and India have shown interest in the region. The paper confirms that the Arctic is no longer a seabed to be ignored but an economically viable region that countries of the world are looking upon with diverse interests. Therefore, since global warming is at the center of the debate, this paper confirms that it has a profound impact on the Canadian Arctic’s sovereignty and security.

Background Information

Over the years, the Arctic region of the North Pole has been regarded as inaccessible due to ice caps. National and international interest in the region has also been low, owing to the infeasibility of venturing into discovering and exploring the Arctic region. One of the Arctic countries of interest is Canada. Although Canada portrayed great interest in defending the sovereignty of its Arctic territory during the cold war, such efforts began to dwindle after the cold war. Since then, Canada has not been assertive enough to enact policies and/or allocate funds for the development of its Arctic territory.

However, the impact of global warming has awakened the interest of many states concerning the Arctic. Global warming has resulted in warmer temperatures in the Arctic (Birchall 3). High temperatures have resulted in the melting of ice in the region. Consequently, the ice-covered waterways continue to be opened. In fact, by the end of the 21st century, there will be no ice in the Arctic (Griffiths 12). By 2030, there will be very little ice caps in the Arctic. Moreover, researchers from the US have asserted that there will be a low ice cover in the Arctic as early as the summer period of 2015.

The melting of ice caps in the Arctic will therefore mean increased accessibility of the region by interested parties. According to Birchall, researches by the US government have claimed that 37% of the world’s unexploited resources such as gas and oils are in the Arctic (3). This observation makes the Arctic region the most productive region in the world. Every nation requires gas and oil to enhance its industrial production. This demand will eventually make the five states that have a coastline with the Arctic lay more claim on the region.

Legitimate and unlawful states have shown interest in the Arctic. Russia has already started exploiting the oil reserves in the region. It has even used its navy to drop its national flag at the North Pole in the recent past. This move a prove enough that although Russia is allowed to ply the high waters by the international maritime laws, planting a national flag at the North Pole Russia is a show of where its boundaries end. Other states such as Denmark have already presented their claim over the Arctic in to the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS). Nations such as Finland, Russia, and the US are yet to present their claims. China, India, and Japan are also eying the potential for oil and gases from the region to their industries. In fact, this move has repeatedly been challenged by the US.

Sovereignty implies authority and control that a country and its leadership have over a territory, people, or resources. The Canadian Arctic sovereignty implies the ability of the Canadian government to exercise authority over its territories, regardless of whether they inhabited or uninhabited by its people. Authority to regulate maritime activities in its Arctic region is also part of its responsibilities.

Canada remains the most affected country by the greenhouse effects of pollutants that originate from industries in the US and many other countries, including China and India. Deposits of pollution from these countries end up in the Canadian Arctic. Pertinent matter that relate to the health and environment of the people are therefore affected by global pollution and warming. Global warming has also affected activities in the Canadian landmass since melting of the ice caps has resulted in the flooding and destruction of lives of communities that live near the coastline (Griffiths 15).

Increase in storms has also been attributed to global warming. As a sovereign nation, Canada’s sovereignty is guaranteed in the international law. However, such sovereignty in the Arctic remains a big question. Hence, the debate concerning the sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic after global warming can therefore be evaluated based on the way the government is able to meet these factors. Global warming has resulted in increased accessibility of the Canadian Arctic. Interested parties will gain access to the region. The ability of the government to meet the renewed interest in the Arctic will therefore be significant.

Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic is indicated by the rights, authority, and responsibility that the federal government of Canada has over its land, water, and people. Sovereignty is therefore a legal force that is accepted within the nation and in the international systems. This section evaluates the Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic based on its defined territoriality, validity of governance system, and the occupation of the territory by people.

Governance System

Canada has a defined governance system that is acceptable by its people and the international community. There is no question of threats to the sovereignty of the Canadian government. The sovereign government of Canada is presented as federal state, which has devolved its powers in various units. Such territories include the South, North region, Yukon, Northwest, and Nunavut. Although the northern comprises poorer people compared to other regions, the section has embraced the sovereignty of the government.

The Canadian Arctic government has therefore defended the sovereignty of the country since independence. For example, during the cold war, the government protected its territory against the influence of Russia. In several instances, the government has stamped its authority by allowing the US ship to sail through its internal waters. In fact, the government of the Canadian Arctic canceled the permission that had been granted to a US vessel to pass through its waters after complaints from people that Canada was accepting the demands of the US government.

This position was an indication of the sovereignty of the governing system. However, failure of the Canadian government to allocate resources towards the development of the Arctic has resulted in its perceived lack of interest in the region. Although the government has commissioned researches on the Arctic after it realized that the climate around it was changing, little has been done in exploiting the untapped resources (Birchall 4).

Occupation of a Territory by People

The sovereignty of a country is indicated by the occupation of its territory by people. Although there are no definitive minimum or maximum number of people who should occupy a territory for a government to claim sovereignty, Canada has occupied all its islands except the Hans Island. The Hans Island has no population. This situation has resulted in questions concerning Canada’s sovereignty over it. Although the Canadian Arctic has a small population, the northern part of the country is poor, comprising relatively unemployed young people. As such, the government has a duty to ensure resource provision to its people. Sovereignty and exploitation of gas and oil-rich Arctic will be imperative, especially after the evidence of ice melting.

Defined Boundaries

There is no doubt that the validity of boundaries in the Canadian Arctic is a challenge. A country cannot claim sovereignty and security over an area if it has no valid and internationally recognized boundaries. Although the landmass boundaries of the Canadian Arctic are well defined, the question of marine boundaries is still a challenge. However, international maritime laws define the territory that a country that has a coastline can claim sovereignty.

However, the international community needs to define the number of countries, which must ratify a boundary to be recognized internationally. However, this concept has not yet been well defined worldwide. It is worth noting that there have been increased disputes over ocean boundaries across the world. The issue of ocean boundaries has also been rife in the Arctic region. In fact, the major challenge of sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic since time immemorial has been ocean boundaries. This problem is likely to intensify, especially now that the ice in the Arctic is melting at a very high speed, owing to the global warming effect.

Other interested parties are therefore likely to challenge the sovereignty of Canadian Arctic over the ocean due to the riches that lie therein. The UNCLOS has however enacted laws on the definition of international maritime zones. This convention came as a relief to most of the countries that have coastlines. Earlier, countries’ maritime territories would only extend to 12 nautical miles in the sea. However, since the endorsement of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), this space was extended to 200 maritime miles. The space sovereignty that EEZ gave the Canadian Arctic covers a wide territory in the seas. In this region, Canada can carry out fishing and drilling of natural oil, gas, or any other available mineral resources. Such laws will therefore define the question of the control that Canadian Arctic will have over the ice-free Arctic after global warming. Canada will have complete control of the waters that are close to its coastline.

However, the evident huge distance that lies between Canada and its Arctic coastline zones will bring the question of who the legitimate owner of the region is. Although it may seem logically correct for Canada to have sovereignty over the whole of its Northern region up to the North Pole, the international maritime laws may not uphold it. This observation can be compared to the case of Russia where its military sailed the international waters up to the North Pole where it planted the Russian flag. However, an international uproar of Russia’s action was evident from other Arctic states that claimed that Russia was legally wrong.

Canada knows the significance of the Arctic to its security and interest. However, the international law allows the passage of all international sea vessels in regions that are out of the 200 nautical miles area. There is no doubt that UNCLOS gives countries that have a coastline control over the ocean if they have a continental shelf. This privilege goes beyond the EEZ boundary. It has to be scientifically proven before ratification. In fact, a continental shelf gives a country an additional 150 nautical miles of seabed and soil. Such a state can therefore be said to control close to 400 seafaring miles of naval zone. Therefore, under these international laws, Canada can assert dominion over a great section of the Arctic.

However, although melting of the ice caps in the Arctic and the eventual accessibility of the sea allow Canada to have control over resources, it is not allowed to control scientific research, fishing, or shipping beyond 200 nautical miles boundary. Conflicts have ensued between Canada concerning its sovereignty over a maritime zone that the US believes is a strait while Canada believes is its internal waters. The argument is that if the waters join two international water bodies, they form a strait that can be used in international shipping (Griffiths 259).

However, a country such as Canada can exercise sovereignty by regulating all activities apart from international ship passage, regardless of whether they are submerged or afloat. Canada’s reference of the strait as internal waters can be weighed under the definition that internal waters comprise water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and swamps that are wholly within the landmass of a country. Since the strait lies along the Canadian Arctic Island, the claim of sovereignty over it is difficult to judge. However, since it joins two international water bodies, the US’ claims that it is not part of internal water still hold some truth.

Therefore, Canada may be said not to have a problem with two elements of sovereignty, namely population and governance. However, with the global warming setting in, Canada faces increased problems of sovereignty of its maritime boarders. The ability of Canada to exercise sovereignty over its geographical region or territory will assure its citizens of their security. In fact, sovereignty and security of the Canadian Arctic are intertwined.

Significance of the Canadian Arctic to the Global Warming Era

In the early years of the Canadian Arctic, the idea of Arctic sovereignty was exclusively used to address the dispute between Canada and the US over Northwest Waterway (Charron 831; Pharand 24). This issue was different from Canadian Arctic security, which was concerned with the differences that Canada had with Russia during the cold war. At this point, Canadian Arctic policymakers did not bother to enact laws to protect their interest in the Arctic region (Blunden 121). However, the Arctic region is significant to Canada now than any other time. The arctic is a hub of wealth. As such, various nations have begun challenging the sovereignty of the Arctic county over the region. Canadian Arctic has no choice but to move fast to assert its sovereignty and security over its Arctic region.

Sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic landmass has already been challenged by Denmark. For example, Denmark claims ownership of the Hans Island from Canada. The fact that the island is very small and that the Canadian Arctic has not deployed its population there makes its sovereignty claims questionable. The international rules of sovereignty demand a country that is laying claims of a land mass to follow them (claims) by subsequent occupation.

Denmark has therefore claimed the territory that has originally been known to be owned by the Canadian Arctic. Denmark’s claim over the Hans Island comes with the realization of the economic potential in the Canadian Arctic waters. This situation has actually been intensified with the 1990s realization of climate change in the world and its impact on the northern Arctic pole (Birchall 5). Claims of landmass by a foreign nation are a clear indication of its interest even in the waters.

The fact that control over maritime zone depends on a country’s coastline is indicative of Denmark’s intention. If it manages to legitimize its claims over the Island, it will directly translate into the waters that lie around the island upon considering the EEZ rule of 200 nautical miles. The implication of such a claim on the Canadian Arctic will be far reaching.

It will mean its loss of sovereignty and security over a territory and subsequent loss of economic resources. Moreover, by virtue of gathering enough courage to claim a territory that has been known to belong to the Canadian Arctic, Denmark shows that it will soon be claiming the Arctic from the sovereignty of Canada. In fact, all the five members of the Arctic region have started preparing their navies and economic resources, including ice-ships, in readiness to exploit the economic resources in the Arctic.

Global warming has made Arctic countries begin preparing to venture into the rich Arctic after its accessibility seems assured in the near future. On its part, Canada seems to be moving slowly into the realization of the likely conflict it is headed to with the global warming impact on the Arctic. For example, Russia is already making ships that use nuclear power to sail over the ice-capped Arctic. There is no doubt that Russia has already begun drilling oil and gas in its Arctic region. In addition, the Russian navies have sailed all the way to the North Pole to plant a flag at the centre, which has been seen by analysts as indicating the country’s claim over the Arctic.

Although this move has resulted in condemnations from the US and Canada, Russia has continued to portray its assertiveness in demonstrating its sovereignty over the region. In fact, although there has never been a conflict over maritime boundary between Russia and the Canadian Arctic, this move may be the onset of a bigger action. Moreover, the Canadian Arctic has policies that bar it from using nuclear power (Blunden 127). This limitation means that its ability to exploit the rich Arctic north is limited compared to that of Russia, which is using nuclear power to heat or propel its ships in the northern Arctic.

Denmark has already filed a case in the UNCLOS laying its claim over the Arctic. It has also prepared its navy towards exploring the region. As seen earlier, Denmark has also claimed the ownership of one small island that is under the sovereignty of Canadian Arctic. Denmark continues to intensify its naval technology in readiness for the Arctic. Finland also aims at launching its claims immediately after Denmark receives accreditation for its region from the UNCLOS.

Developments of ships that can sail better in both ice and high waters by countries such as Japan are indicators of how the world is preparing to venture into the Arctic. Although such countries are not in the Arctic region, their interest is indicative of the significance of the region following the effects of global warming. Nations that have economic interest such as China and India have also requested to be included as observers of the affairs of the Arctic council. Such countries are focusing on the oil and gas deposits in the Arctic, which will be very useful in regulating the world’s energy prices. These countries have already started working closely with Arctic countries such as Russia and Finland. The fact that the Canadian Arctic contains huge deposits of energy resources makes it a place of interest for most countries of the world.

Japan has discovered jell-like structures that contain ice energy that is believed to be formed from compacted petroleum gases. These structures can therefore be processed to produce petroleum. In fact, Japan is already looking into how such structures can be harvested and used for commercial production of petroleum. Japan has deployed its researchers and archeologists to investigate the feasibility of commercial exploitation of these resources (Huebert ‘Renaissance’ 26). This move is indicative of Japan’s interest in the Canadian Arctic. Consequently, it puts the sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic in question since the amplified interest from external countries indicated more security threats in the region.

Increased Need for the Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

As the issue of global warming intensifies, so is the need for the Canadian Arctic sovereignty. The fact that global warming results in the rise in temperatures and eventual melting of the ice cap in the Arctic north makes the region an unexploited mine (Carnaghan and Goody 8). Although global warming is perceived as a negative effect of pollution of the global environment, it will result in more accessibility of the oil and gas-rich Canadian Arctic. The untapped 37% of the world energy that is said to lie in this region attracts the interest of many states. Based on other countries’ interest and claims over the Arctic region, Canadian Arctic sovereignty and security become an important matter.

The question of whether the federal government of Canada will continue to ignore the hot idea of securing its interest in the Arctic is important. The international community, the media, and people of Canada are watching to see the actions that the government of Canada will take to secure its interest against any external aggression. The interweaving line between national sovereignty and national security rests on the ability of a government to secure its people and their interests (Carnaghan and Goody 20).

Over the years, the Canadian Arctic has undermined the economic benefits of its Arctic region with leaders strategically refusing to enact laws that define how the resources can be exploited. In fact, the federal government of Canada has witnessed criticism and pressure from its citizen over its reluctance to stamp authority over the Canadian Arctic (McRae ‘60 Arctic’ 427). For example, Canada has looked for areas of better international relations with the US, yet it is its greatest threat in matters of the northern Waterways. In fact, the government was once forced to stop yielding to pressure and influence of the US and/or allowing its ship to sail in the Canadian Arctic’s internal waters by public pressure.

The interest of the now accessible Canadian Arctic has resulted in increased aggression by neighbors over its territoriality. In addition to Denmark’s claim over the Hans Island, the American government has strategically failed to ratify all international organizations that have an interest in the Arctic. Therefore, the US has a clear interest in the region. It does not want any organization or body to exert control over boundaries, economic activities, or sovereignty of the region.

Moreover, the US has openly differed with the Canadian Arctic over territoriality, hence challenging the sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic over some parts of what it claims to control (McRae ‘Arctic Sovereignty’ 53). The United States has differed with Canada concerning its maritime jurisdiction. The area of contention between the American government and the Canadian Arctic is defining the margin of the Beaufort maritime. Canada’s sovereignty over the region is therefore challenged. Beaufort Sea is one of the areas that the Canadian Arctic needs to lay claims firmly on and stamp authority before more violations happen.

Sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic is also affected by globalization in the sense that Denmark, which is one of the Arctic countries, also perceives an opportunity in the rich Canadian Arctic (Carnaghan and Goody 29). Denmark has not been contented by how the Lincoln Sea is divided and/or the share of the Canadian Arctic. This dissatisfaction shows that it is a potential aggressor of Canadian Arctic sovereignty and security. Moreover, Denmark has openly laid claims concerning not only the water but also the Hand Island landmass. In fact, Denmark has continually prepared its military towards more exploitation of the accessible northern Arctic. It therefore follows that the sovereignty of Canadian Arctic is under potential aggression by several states.

The definition of a continental shelf by UNCLOS Article 96 is also likely to challenge the sovereignty of Canadian Arctic in a considerable maritime area. English confirms that countries that are likely to lay claims over the continental shelf that is currently under the sovereignty of Canadian Arctic include Russia, the United States, and Denmark (30). Any country that presumes to have a continental shelf in the maritime zone that it needs to stamp its sovereignty over has the right to do so as per the international maritime laws under the United Nations (Churchill, Rolf, and Lowe 13).

Such countries are supposed to carry out research on the area and the reason why they think they qualify to claim it for a period of ten years. After the research, they should submit their report to the United Nations’ committee on maritime shelf. The committee will then meet to make a resolution concerning the report. According to Pharand, the fact that these three countries are already carrying out research in preparation to lay their claims is also a threat to Canadian Arctic’s sovereignty (25). If the UNCLOS grants such shelf to these countries, the Canadian Arctic will have lost a great deal of resources.

Sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic is also of interest in the Northwest Passage (Charron 833; Pharand 25). Canada has openly declared that the area is part of its internal waters and that it has sovereignty and security over it. Canada’s control of maritime shipping in the region has been on the lime light for a considerable period. Having declared its sovereignty over the Northern Waterways, Canada has taken a step to regulate who has access to these waters. Under the interior resource maritime regulations, the Canadian Arctic has complete control over any in-house waters.

However, the debate of whether the Northern Waterways is strait or internal water persists in the international arena. English affirms that the European Union and the United States have asserted that this area is a strait and that no country can lay claims over it (28). As such, the Northern Waterways is an international maritime zone for all shipping countries, which do not need to have any one in control. The sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic is therefore challenged further. Its authority to control ships that pass through this region has even been challenged in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) (Churchill, Rolf, and Lowe 18). The final decision is pending.

Canadian Arctic needs to assert its sovereignty in the region not only to have control over the region and its activities but also to protect the interest and security of its people. Activities that are likely to begin following the global warming and melting of ice are likely to affect the Canadian environment directly. For example, if countries begin exploiting oil and gases in the Arctic, the impact of ice melting will be felt intensely in Canada than in the rest of the world.

As such, the people that the federal government of Canada has sovereignty over are likely to be displaced by ocean storms and/or change their livelihoods. The maritime ecosystem in the Arctic will also change. The relationship between Canadian people and its environs will definitely be altered. Immersion of more land mass and drying of wells will also increase as activities that result in melting of ice cap increase. Consequently, some of the Canadian citizens will be left without houses, food, and livelihood. The subject of security and autonomy of the Canadian Arctic is a function of global warming. Canada has to protect its people, waters, and land.

Increased Need for the Canadian Arctic Security

Security of people in the Canadian Arctic has been threatened by global warming. The authority that the government of Canadian Arctic has been given by its people is to ensure their security first before pursuing other interests (Hubert 34). The government is therefore challenged to respond to numerous threats that have been posed to its people and its territory by the actions of foreign nations. Although the issues surrounding the Canadian Arctic sovereignty are multidimensional and that they keep on changing with time, there is a need for the government to assure its people of their security.

One of the major security challenges that the Canadian Arctic is facing is the deposition of pollutants and wastes from all over the world through the sea. In fact, some of the pollutants in the Canadian Arctic region come from as far as India. The health of the Canadian Arctic citizens has been negatively affected by eating contaminated locally grown foods. For example, agrochemicals and heavy metals that are contained in certain chemicals that are used in farming and other activities in the world end up in the Canadian Arctic (Hubert 41). In turn, plants that the people feed on take them in. This observation calls for the protection of the Canadian Arctic from harmful pollution by the rest of the world. Canada has therefore been tasked with a heavy responsibility of persuading the international community not to dump chemicals into the sea.

Other physical security threats to the Canadian Arctic have also happened in the recent past. For example, criminals from Norwegian Hells Angel entered the Canadian waters up to the Cambridge Bay. They went undetected and unabated by the Canadian authorities, regardless of the fact that they were in a small boat. The Canadian security systems are therefore challenged to protect the country’s maritime interest. However, the Canadian Arctic is now enlarging its navy, especially after the impact of global warming that spelt danger to its sovereignty.

The most important factor at this point is for law and policymakers in the government of the Canadian Arctic to enact laws that advance the security of its territory. Policies on the funding of military, especially naval ability should be enacted. There is a likelihood of an increase in aggression over both land and water in the Canadian Arctic by different countries and even international bodies. The Canadian Arctic needs to be prepared to face these interests with confidence.

Otherwise, it will lose its sovereignty. Protection of Arctic sovereignty and security are therefore important as the impacts of global warming continue to open the Arctic north to international community. The issue of occupation of a landmass that the Canadian Arctic already owns is likely to result in criticism of the security apparatus in the country. Activities of other countries’ ships in its maritime waters without authorization are also likely to question Canadian ability to protect its people.

Migration of the Southern Canadians to the North

A major impact of global warming on the Canadian Arctic will be the migration of the Southern Canadian Aboriginals to the north. Young Canadians inhabit the northern part of the Canadian Arctic. The region is also poor. The population lacks employment and better livelihoods. However, global warming has brought about new interest in the area by the southerners. As global warming increases, there will be an increase in accessibility of the Arctic north by most of the people. Temperatures in the north are very low. This situation has prevented the southerners from venturing into the north. Opening up of the north will therefore mean an increase in the population in these areas.

Global warming will result in easier accessibility of the northern Arctic by the Canadian Arctic people. As other nations come to exploit oil and gases in the region, the country’s population will pull closer to these economic activities. In the event that Canada decides to exploit oil and gases in its territory in the north, the same impact of migration of people from the south to the north will result. Economic development of the north will also follow the activities in the Arctic north.

Industries for oil refining and shipping will be built on the Canadian Arctic landmass in the north. Young people will seek employment in these industries as a way of raising the economic standards of Canada. With better livelihoods, the people of Canada will therefore focus on economic development of their families and the nation. The need for technical expertise for resource exploitation will also compel the Canadian Arctic to better their education systems. For example, there will be an increased need for engineers, geologist, lawyers, and technicians to work in mining companies in the north.

Migration to the Northern Canadian Arctic by Non-Canadians

Although the issue of who will migrate into the Canadian Arctic after the impact of global warming is fully felt is still unknown, the fact is that many non-Canadian countries, people, and organizations have shown interest in the Canadian Arctic region. For example, the US, Russia, Japan, Finland, Denmark, India, and China among many other countries may move in either as legitimate owners or as investors in the region. India and China may move in as observers or as actors.

The coming of these immigrants will have an impact on the economics, culture, and governance of the Canadian Arctic. Uncertainty of whether global warming will continue to raise temperatures that are necessary for the melting of the northern ice cap is still rife. Many international meetings have been organized to counteract the impact of global warming and its greenhouse effect. The melting of the ice cap in the Arctic region will be stopped or will be slower. However, Sharp confirms that the speed of global warming is still high (297).

By 2030, it is estimated that the Canadian Arctic will be completely open for accessibility. However, persons or countries that will move into the region are still unknown, just as their impact on the area. If global warming stops, there will be little opening of the Arctic region. However, the use of ice-ships that are currently being manufactured in Japan and Russia will still be a point to turn to in exploring the region. The Canadian Arctic is up for resource exploitation in the near future. What is important is for it to guarantee protection and autonomy of the region and its people.

Endangering the Lives of Coastal Communities

According to a report by the “Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), Arctic Science Committee (ASC), and Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)” (Huebert ‘Canadian Arctic Sovereignty’ 10), global warming will have a security impact on communities, which live along the coastline. This situation will result from an increase in storms along the coastlines. Since global warming will cause the melting of the polar ice, the amount of ice that will be available in the sea will decrease.

This situation will in turn result in the rising of waves that cause storms in the sea. Due to the uncontrolled nature of such waves, storms will have a direct and easy access to the coastline. These storms are likely to destroy lives, buildings, animals, and other strictures. Flooding will also result from the increased melting of the ice in the Arctic. Floods are also a security threat to the coastal communities in the Canadian Arctic. Floods destroy human lives, animals, and plants. Besides, they disrupt the ecosystem.

Flooding may also predispose people to waterborne diseases such as bilharzia, especially with the increased pollution of the Arctic water by the world. The government of Canadian Arctic is therefore charged with the responsibility of guaranteeing security to its people, especially the communities that live along the coastline. Through policy and law, the country and the international community will therefore manage security threats that are posed to the people of the Canadian Arctic by global warming. The country’s security and intelligence system needs to be alert to inform such communities on changes in sea waves and the timing of when to move away from the coastline. Policies on habitation on the coastline need to be enacted to reduce the impact of such an occurrence.

Increased Marine Access and Transport

Because of global warming, ice caps will melt. Hence, accessibility to the Canada Arctic’s marine environment will increase tremendously (Brigham and Ellis 23). Security and sovereignty issues will eventually become a great concern for Canada. The reduced sea ice in the Arctic North means that sailors and navigators will take an extended period carrying out fishing, oil extraction, and gas mining in the Arctic (Stewart 370).

In addition, navigation will become easier since ships that have the ability to navigate on ice and water will be able to use the region. Powerful states such as the US and simple states will then move to the Canadian Arctic in an effort to exploit resources and/or pursue self-enrichment. This situation will definitely raise the issue of defense and autonomy in the country’s Arctic. Violation of marine laws and/or encroaching areas that are designated as EEZ and continental shelf will increase (Brigham and Ellis 26).

The already visible conflict between the Canadian Arctic and countries such as Denmark, the US, and Russia will intensify. The likelihood of the use of military power by foreign nations in the Canadian Arctic will also be actualized. The use of military by foreign nations to defend individual countries’ interest and activities in the Arctic will result in death and destruction of property (Chaturved 442). Sharp asserts that the likelihood of application of military power by foreign nations that have an interest in the Arctic North can be seen in the increased military, scientific, and economic preparations that such nations are already engaging in (302).

Countries such as the US have heavily invested in geological research in the Canadian Arctic. The US has continually used the geological data from the Arctic in predicting the future to know if the ice in the Canadian Arctic will have substantially melted by the beginning of the summer of 2015. Such predictions are targeted on preparations for its venture into the Arctic north to exploit the resources therein.

According to Sharp, the increased access to the Canadian north by foreigners will raise the question of sovereignty since the Canadian government will seek more control of the zone (314). The need to assure Canadians that the activities of other countries in the region will not affect their livelihood negatively will be a hard task for the government. The Canadian Arctic will also be required to prove its sovereignty through military patrols in the region and demarcation of boundaries.

The security of the people of the Canadian Arctic will also have to be assured by the government. Increase in economic activities in the Arctic will lead to social and cultural problems. Social evils such as theft, smuggling, corruption, and prostitution will increase. The government must therefore ensure protection of its people from negative social, economic, and political influence.

The melting of ice in the Canadian Arctic will result in a rise in offshore activities in the Canadian Arctic (Stewart 372). Oil and gases that will be exploited from the Arctic waters will need refineries stationed offshore. Due to the proximity of the Canadian mainland, other nations will seek business ventures in Canada to support their Arctic activities. Increase in offshore activities will threaten the sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic. As nations venture into activities of gas and oil exploitation, Hagel says that they will interfere with economic activities of the Canadian people (8). Prices of commodities such as gas and oil will be affected by activities in the shores. The Canadian Arctic will have to prove its sovereignty by protecting its people and its economy from negative influence.

Offshore activities by foreigners will also influence the cultural sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic. Cultural sovereignty of a country is imperative to its existence. The need to defend national culture is a responsibility of a government in a sovereign country. Cultural sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic includes food, dress, festivals, language, and religion.

Such aspects of the Canadian culture need to be protected from the influence of foreign nations. The fact that the Canadian Arctic defended the sovereignty of its people from the influence of the Soviet Russia during the cold war is evidence of its commitment to ensure sovereignty of its people. Culture is used in the preservation of national values in Canadian Arctic. The impact of global warming is likely to threaten its very existence.

Destruction of Infrastructures by Ice

Global warming in the Canadian Arctic will eventually result in thawing of the ground (Heininen 214). There will be an increase in gas and oil extraction industries in Canada’s mainland because of the accessibility of the Arctic. The existence of these industries and their operations will be disrupted periodically by freezing ice. The freezing ice destroys roads and other infrastructure even as it melts after temperatures rise.

Destruction of roads in an area that has increased mining and extraction activities will imply that an alternative means of transport will have to be prioritized. The Canadian Arctic is likely to turn to marine transport and make use of modified ship to transport export goods to other nations (Brigham and Ellis 29). Destruction of roads, buildings, and trees by ice is also a threat to the security of the Canadians. In some cases, thawing of ice may even result in the death of the people.

Degradation by permafrost will result in the drying of lakes and destruction of the ground. As a result, the ecosystem in the Canadian Arctic will be disrupted by these changes. Global warming will not only change the social, political, and economic climate in the Canadian Arctic but also the ecosystem. Canada may lose its indigenous plants and animals, thus resulting in a change in the ecosystem. Since all pollutants that are drained into the sea across the world end up in the Canadian Arctic is a threat to people, animals, and plants in the region.

As a result, the lives of people have changed. The ecosystem continues to change since some marine creatures either die or migrate to other regions. The whole process of global warming has therefore interfered with the earlier habitats of the Canadian Arctic. Canadian Arctic has therefore lost sovereignty and control over the composition and safety of its marine ecosystem. The implication is that global warming is a threat to the security of the Canadian Arctic ecosystem. Canada needs to reinforce the campaign against dumping of agrochemicals into the sea by nations of the world in order to ensure security of its people and marine ecosystem.

A Threat to Food Security in the Canadian Arctic

Indigenous communities that live in the south and the northern parts of Canada depend of food species that existed in the area since time immemorial. However, the witnessed change in the Arctic temperatures has resulted in climatic changes, which have led to the extinction of some food species. Plants and animals in the terrestrial ecosystem have been affected by the changing ecosystems. Thawing of ice and the changing weather conditions have resulted in drying of plants. Food crops that people depend on can no longer grow as they used to do before the interference with the global climatic conditions through industrialization. New species of crops and trees that can survive and excel in the changed environment have had to be imported or developed. This situation has caused a great threat to food security in the Canadian Arctic.

Global warming has also interfered with marine animals and creatures that are fed on by the Canadians. Indigenous sea creatures that survived in the cold waters of the Arctic have been forced to migrate to other regions while others have died out of pollution. Global warming has resulted in a rise in temperatures across the world and in the Arctic marine environment.

Creatures that were previously adapted to living in the very cold temperatures cannot survive in the changed environment. Change in marine environment means that indigenous fish and other marine creatures that people fed on have had to die or develop modified structures that adapt them to the new environment. Loss of these creatures in the Canadian Arctic marine environment is another threat to food security. In fact, new species are slowly moving to the Canadian Arctic marine environment from other parts of the world.

Hagel asserts that global warming will result in increased access to the resource-rich northern Arctic by the Canadian government (9). This move is also likely to result in decreased food production in the country. Owing to the increase in competition for oil and gas in the Arctic, the federal government of Canada may focus much of its attention in the exploitation of these resources and/or protection of its interest through the military.

In fact, the Canadian Arctic has already begun building a strong army in readiness to face the likely provocation of its interest in the Arctic by foreign countries (Heininen 209). Citizens of the Canadian Arctic have also prevailed on the government to portray its sovereign authority, especially in the marine environment. Canadian citizens piled pressure to their government to stop yielding to the demands of the US over the Northwest Waterways. Investing in security and machinery for exploiting the Arctic will mean that most of the government resources will be focused on the Arctic.

This move will leave very low or inadequate resources for the development of the agricultural sector. Since people and the government the agricultural sector as the source of food security, poor economic support to this sector will mean poor food security in the country. The country will then have to depend on food imports from other nations, despite their huge and productive landmass.

Oil extraction and the building of industries on the shores and the mainland will also be a threat to food security. Increased accessibility of the Canadian Arctic will result in increased extraction of oil. As companies extract oil in the sea, chances of oil spillage into water will also increase. Oil spillage is a great threat to marine ecosystem, which is a source of food for the Canadian people. Oil spillage results in a reduction of oxygen gas in the marine environment to the extent of suffocating sea creatures.

Global warming is therefore a great threat to the Arctic marine ecosystem in different ways. Increase in the number of ships and water-moving machines in marine environment disrupt the marine ecosystem (Huebert ‘Climate Change’ 18). Such machines interfere with the eating habits, mating, and normal life environment of the sea creatures. This situation, which is expected to worsen, will threaten the life of the very food that the people rely on.

Consumption of contaminated water and food by sea creatures because of pollution from diverse parts of the world is also a threat to the health of the Canadian Arctic. All chemical and non-chemical pollutants in the world are deposited to the Canadian Arctic. Marine creatures such as fish then consume these chemicals and heavy metals. However, people consume them (fish) later. Consumption of contaminated fish and seafood is a great threat to the health of the people of Canada. Such contamination may result in diseases such as cancer. The impact of this pollution of food may affect several generations of the people of Canada. The government must therefore enact laws that guard its marine environment to ensure food security to its people.

High Levels of Ultraviolet Rays (UV)

The impact of stratospheric change in temperatures in the Arctic region will negatively affect the ozone layer. Greenhouse effect will result in the destruction of the Ozone, which in turn will fail to protect the living creatures from harmful rays. Ultraviolet radiation is detrimental to the life of human beings, animals, and plants. Young people in the northern part of Canada will experience Ultraviolet radiation for the whole of their lives.

According to Chaturvedi, it is estimated that the people of the Canadian Arctic in the current generation will experience a 30% increase in Ultraviolet rays, which are harmful to their health (450). Ultraviolet rays may cause skin cancer and other ailments. Hence, in the coming years, the number of patients who will be suffering from cancer will increase. Health will therefore be a security issue in the Canadian Arctic as global warming increases.

Ultraviolet emissions will also influence the health of vegetation and other living organisms. This radiation impedes photosynthesis, thus resulting in the death of plants or low production in cultivated crops. Green plants depend on sunrays for energy production through photosynthesis. Ultraviolet rays will mean low production of plants and extinction of some species. Ultraviolet rays also affect marine creatures negatively.

For example, in fish, the fingerlings are strongly affected by Ultraviolet radiation. Growth of such fish and small amphibians is therefore impeded by this radiation. In fact, in some cases, malformation of body structures in fish and amphibians results from Ultraviolet rays. Malformation of fish because of Ultraviolet may be inherited by the following generation, and hence a threat to both health and food security of the people of the Canadian Arctic. In addition, it is also a threat to the environmental security of the Canadian.


The impacts of global warming on the Canadian Arctic sovereignty are numerous. Global warming has resulted in increased melting of the ice in the Canadian Arctic. Because of the perceived accessibility of the Canadian Arctic, the number of states that are expressing interest in the area has increased. Researches by various geologists have indicated that the Canadian Arctic is endowed with unexploited oil and gas resource.

Many states have therefore showed their interest in occupying the area or being involved in the exploitation of resources. This situation has raised the question of the impact of global warming on sovereignty and security of the Canadian Arctic. Canada is tasked with the duty of securing the sovereignty of its boarders, people, and property. The security of the people in terms of health, physical security, cultural security, political security, and social security are also threatened by global warming. Various countries of the world have begun taking steps towards ownership of the Canadian Arctic.

Countries that have been discussed here include Denmark and its interest in Hans Island, the US and its interest in the Northwest Subways, Finland and its interest in the continental shelf, and Russia and its interest in the continental shelf. All these countries are a threat to the sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic. Some of them have started preparing their military and economic resources in readiness to venture into the Canadian Arctic. The government of Canada has also started refocusing on the security and sovereignty of its Arctic interests.

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