A Research Agenda for Environmental Geopolitics
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A Research Agenda for Environmental Geopolitics

Edited by Shannon O’Lear

Challenging the mainstream view of the environment as either threatening or valuable, this book considers how geographic knowledge can be applied to offer a more nuanced understanding. Framed within geopolitics and using a range of methodologies, the chapters encapsulate different approaches to demonstrate how selective forms of knowledge, measurement, and spatial focus both embody and stabilize power, shaping how people perceive and respond to changing features of human-environment interactions.
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Chapter 8: The geopolitics of transportation in the melting Arctic

Frédéric Lasserre and Pierre-Louis Têtu

Abstract

Climate change is significantly impacting the Arctic region, with the melting of permafrost, glaciers and sea ice. The rapidly receding summer sea ice led to the idea that climate change could trigger an expansion of transit shipping in the Arctic. The reality is more nuanced: if Arctic shipping is indeed developing, it is destinational shipping that is expanding, with the opening up of oil, gas and mining sites thanks to high global-resource prices. This is a shift from the situation in the 1990s when the impact of climate change was not helping commercial shipping. Climate change is thus more a helper, not a driver, for the development of transportation in the Arctic. Additionally, climate change also contributes to the thawing of permafrost, which poses a problem for land transportation. Regardless, Russia, the Scandinavian States and Canada continue to develop railway projects in the Arctic largely in support of resource extraction.

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