HomeEastern EuropeClimate Change: Blessing in Disguise for Russia

Climate Change: Blessing in Disguise for Russia

Is it even fathomable that climate change will be beneficial for some while catastrophic for many? Given the current nature of global warming and the ways in which superpower countries like the United State of America (USA), Russia and China are handling the current carbon emissions, it should come as no surprise that my literature is more lenient towards the countries that would benefit from climate change as opposed to the countries which might be harmed by it. In fact, we become so much pessimistic by the destructions caused by climate change that we don’t at all look at the bright side of what significance it might bring for other nations.

For the most part, climate change does have the potential to cause massive natural disasters like floods, drought, landslides and rising sea levels. Consequently, most of the parts of the Earth will turn uninhabitable by the end of this century. It is feared that climate change may make some regions so much uninhabitable that it would eventually trigger a massive evacuation crisis in history. Some countries like Maldives, South-Pacific island states are already in such an identity crisis. They are already considering purchasing lands in other big states should their nation completely get engulfed by the rising sea.

But if we look from the other direction, we can see that these problems will not impact everyone. Though the rise in temperature is detrimental for low-lying regions, it might create newer and better opportunities for the polar region countries like Russia, Canada, the USA (Alaska), Denmark (Greenland) and Scandinavian countries. Global warming will make the mentioned countries more viable for international trade-route and that in turn would be the primary cause of prosperity.

According to the research of Marshall Burke, a professor at Stanford University, if we draw a straight line between the border of Russia and China, the lower part of the line will be impacted negatively. The sea level will be increased due to global warming, and the tropical areas will get submerged. As a result, a vast number of migrants will emerge. According to ‘The New York Times’ report, nearly 300 crores (3 billion) people will be living in the damper climate zone by 2070. People will then ponder migrating from tropical and temperate regions to colder areas like Canada, Scandinavia and Russia.

In 2017, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin himself admitted that the climate change caused due to global warming and melting of permafrost is beneficial for Russia in the long run. Moscow had already undertaken projects worth billions of dollars that would transform the enormous Asian side, Siberia of Russia from a backwards region to the forefront of civilization by the end of the twenty-first century. Siberia is always covered by ice save for some warm sunny days and is somewhat inhabitable thanks to the advances in thermodynamics. Global warming will melt the Siberian permafrost and make it an ideal place for agriculture and industrialization since that region is currently witnessing significant temperature changes. On the other hand, food security in tropical areas is already under serious threat. According to former Secretary of State of the USA, John Kerry, in the future food will play a decisive role in tipping the already unstable balance of power. Food can be weaponized to achieve the objectives of superpowers against the countries beset with famine or low food production. Russia as a result of this already privileged position can use Siberia as a trump card it could then produce 9% of total world food alone.

We would now shift our focus to natural resources. The US geological survey estimates that around 13% of oil reserves and 30% of the natural gas reserves of the world are located in the Arctic alone. As the permafrost melts and technological innovation progresses, Russia could extract these untapped hydrocarbon resources unopposed. As a result, it will become the largest producer of oil and natural gas. Russia is already the 2nd largest producer of natural gas in the world and the largest gas exporter in Europe. Evidently, it will overtake the Middle East’s output of oil resources and make Russia an undisputed hegemon!

Speaking about the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which lies between the Arctic sea and Russian coastline, its great potential as an international trade route can be unlocked once the Arctic ice starts to melt. Russia has one of the most extensive coastlines in the world yet most of the coastline remains frozen around the year. But the situation seems to be changing rapidly, and the Arctic sea will remain relatively ice-free. And then Russia can utilize the NSR for trading with Asia, Europe and North America. NSR can connect the Asian busiest port Shanghai (China) and the European busiest port of Rotterdam (the Netherlands) by completely bypassing the Malacca straits and Suez Canal. If NSR is implemented successfully by Russia, it will drastically reduce the distance from 18000 km to 10500 km and decrease the time of voyage from 40 days to 22 days. Moreover, it would connect Russia with Canada directly. NSR is located within the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone and is expected to benefit Russian trade as Egypt earn profit through transit fee from the trade of the Suez Canal.

Though Russia has many opportunities to boom itself in the international arena, it doesn’t have much population to grab all these. Hosting migrants can be an excellent solution for the population problem. So, it has to increase its population by any means.  Otherwise, all the opportunities will be useless.

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