Who Owns the Arctic?


February 9, 2010 :: Michael Byers
Moderated by Alex Masse

7-9pm Lethbridge Public Library Theatre Gallery

Who actually controls the Northwest Passage? Who owns the trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and natural resources beneath the Arctic Ocean and how will responsibility for the environmental impact be divided, if such resources were to be developed?

Which territorial claims will prevail, those of the U.S., Russia, Canada or the Nordic nations and why? Furthermore, in an age of rapid climate change, is it possible to adequately protect the fragile Arctic environment while seizing the economic opportunities presented to us, should the massive melting of sea ice continue?

The speaker will explain the sometimes contradictory rules governing the division and protection of the Arctic and the disputes that remain unresolved. What emerges is a vision for the Arctic in which co-operation, not conflict, prevails, and where the sovereignty of individual nations is exercised for the benefit of all.

Speaker: Michael Byers

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Professor Byers has led two projects for ArcticNet, a Canadian government–funded research consortium: the first on the Northwest Passage, the second on competing claims to oil and gas reserves below the Arctic Ocean.

Michael is a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen and has written for the international newspapers The Guardian, Financial Times and London Review of Books. Books to Michael Byers credit are: War Law and the glowingly reviewed Canadian bestseller, Intent for a Nation (2007). His most recent book is from 2009, titled Who owns the Arctic? Michael is a graduate of Lethbridge Collegiate Institute.


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