Feature

The Battle for the North Pole

The melting Arctic ice cap may be bad news for polar bears, but it is prompting a frantic scramble for territory and resources. What

How fast is the ice cap melting?The size of the summer polar ice cap has shrunk 20 percent since 1979, reaching its smallest size last year. With average temperatures in the Arctic rising twice as fast as elsewhere in the world, climate scientists predict the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by the summer of 2050. In place of the white wilderness that killed explorers and defeated navigators for centuries, the world would have a blue North Pole and a seasonally open sea nearly five times the size of the Mediterranean. Last August, a Russian vessel, the Akademik Fyodorov, became the first ship to reach the North Pole without having to use an icebreaker.

Who stands to lose from all this?The melting of the ice could shut down the Gulf Stream and wreak havoc with the world

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