The valuable materials in the Arctic make countries like Russia interested in owning parts of the frozen wilderness. (AP)

The valuable materials in the Arctic make countries like Russia interested in owning parts of the frozen wilderness. (AP)

This fisherman's catch of cod shows the Arctic's good fishing. (AP)

This fisherman's catch of cod shows the Arctic's good fishing. (AP)

Mining in the Arctic could be a big industry. The minerals there are found in phone batteries, jewelry, and steel. (AP)

Mining in the Arctic could be a big industry. The minerals there are found in phone batteries, jewelry, and steel. (AP)

Icebreakers are required to smash through the ice to sail through the Arctic. If more ice melts, boats of all kinds will have easier sailing. (AP)

Icebreakers are required to smash through the ice to sail through the Arctic. If more ice melts, boats of all kinds will have easier sailing. (AP)

Cargo ships traveling from one side of the world to the other save fuel if they go through the Northwest Passage shortcut. (AP)

Cargo ships traveling from one side of the world to the other save fuel if they go through the Northwest Passage shortcut. (AP)

Why Battle?

Posted: November 1, 2017

The warming weather in the Arctic Circle threatens polar bears and Arctic foxes. But to people looking to do business, it’s a bonanza! Here’s what Arctic treasure hunters are looking for:

Oil and gas. Right now, about a tenth of the world’s oil and a quarter of its natural gas come from the Arctic Circle. But more is probably hidden there. These fossil fuels make modern life work. We use them for heating, cooking, and electricity. We pump them into our cars, use them to pave roads, and to make plastic.

A shortcut. Sailing from London to Tokyo? Traveling through the Arctic Circle could cut your trip almost in half. People have wanted to take this route (called the Northwest Passage) for hundreds of years. But in the past, sailing to the passage meant risking your life. Thousands of giant icebergs (up to 300 feet high) drift through the water, right into the paths of ships. Melting ice could make for much smoother sailing.

Minerals. Lots of people compare the race for the Arctic to a gold rush. And miners are digging up actual gold in the Arctic. But that’s not all. Arctic nickel is used to make stainless steel. Silver is used for silverware, jewelry, and batteries. You can find mined zinc in sunblock, cars, makeup, airplanes, appliances, surgical tools, and medicines. Mined coal is used to produce electricity, steel, and cement. Engagement rings get their sparkle from Arctic diamonds. And don’t forget the mini treasure mines you see people carry every day: cell phones. Phones contain the Arctic elements copper, gold, and platinum.