The Arctic is heating up. While China, the US and Russia rapidly boost their presence – mobilizing submarines and icebreakers – the ice at the North Pole continues to recede, creating new trade routes and golden opportunities for mining, fishing, oil and gas, but also new potential for international strife. For the first time in human history an entire ocean is opening up for new traffic. A dramatic struggle to maintain peace in the midst of a quest for power and resources is speedily unfolding – all against the most ominous backdrop of all: fast-accelerating climate change. Temperatures are rising twice as fast in the Arctic as in the rest of the world.
In 2014 things took a strange turn. The Kingdom of Denmark, through its continued hold on Greenland, claimed a colossal piece of the Arctic seabed, including the North Pole, all the way to Russian waters. This followed a phenomenal stunt in which two Russian submarines planted the Russian flag at the deep bottom of the ice-covered ocean, precisely at the North Pole. In 2015, Russia formally claimed its massive piece of the seabed and the two claims now overlap extensively – and soon Canada will add its demands. As the great powers increase their Arctic military capacities, tortuous endeavours to reach a diplomatic solution to the dispute are underway.
Investigative journalist Martin Breum has been on the Arctic front line for a decade, and brings this compelling story to life. He travels by ice-breaker with the researchers who try to prove ownership of the North Pole. He uncovers the stories of the 57,000 Inuit of Greenland who are fighting to mould their own place in this Arctic dynamic – between the greatest powers of the world. Thrillingly written, Cold Rush takes you straight to the modern Arctic – a region in which the future of our planet is being decided.
Preface / vii
Map: the Arctic region / xii
prologue / 1
1 Denmark and Greenland emerge as Arctic powers / 7
2 Self-rule in Greenland - another step towards independence? / 29
3 Climate change and the reshaping of Denmark’s arctic defence / 40
4 The kingdom reaches for the North Pole / 70
5 Fears of China / 111
6 Greenland - an Arctic oil state / 122
7 New premier in Greenland - ‘independence in my lifetime’ / 130
8 To be or not to be independent / 148
9 Prospects of uranium / 155
10 A colonial past comes back to haunt / 166
11 Dreams of oil and gas burst with a bang / 179
12 Denmark and Greenland claim the North Pole - and more / 195
Map: Competing Danish-Russian claims / 209
13 Denmark prepares for increased Arctic action / 212
14 The two still tango - but will it last? / 226
Further reading / 241
Index / 243
Martin Breum is a journalist and renowned Arctic expert. His first book When the Ice Disappears was awarded the Danish Authors Association's award for the best non-fiction work of 2014. It was followed by The Greenland Dilemma, now available in English. In 2016 he produced (with documentarist Jakob Gottschau) a series of TV documentaries on the common history of Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. He corresponds on the Arctic for the media in Denmark, Norway and Greenland, and for the EUobserver. His writing on the polar region has been published in the New York Times, National Geographic and many other international media outlets.
"Breum has the journalistic ability to remain objective yet share the perspectives of each nation's leaders and show the intricacies of their interactions. This provides a richness of insight that makes Cold Rush an uncommonly intriguing work of nonfiction."
– Foreword Reviews
"This is an important and refreshing addition to literature on Arctic politics, seen through the journalistic eyes of Martin Breum. It is also one of the few contributions that has a particular focus on Denmark and Greenland which deserves attention in its own right. A highly readable book that I can recommend to anyone interested in Arctic affairs."
– Geir Hønneland, director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute and author of Russia and the Arctic