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Until recently, the northern US border was secured by a continent-size piece of ice; however, as climate change opens up the Arctic to further exploitation and access, geopolitical uncertainties over regional dominance will arise and regional tensions will heighten. As such, the United States is gearing up to increase military presence in the Arctic. The use of a FONOP is a tool the U.S. can use to signal readiness to engage in the region. FONOPs have been used by the U.S. around the world to assert the rights of American ships to operate freely in disputed territories and to discourage illegitimate/excessive claims (examples of this can be seen throughout the South China Sea.)
Why This Matters? It has been predicted that by 2035 the Arctic will be completely free of ice in the summer; when the Arctic melts (becoming just another ocean,) geopolitical tensions will rise as Arctic nations struggle for dominance of the region. While the United States has a vested interest in asserting its right to operate its military freely in the Arctic and ensure freedom of movement for commercial vessels, a FONOP may be an aggressive display. Any military action taken in the Arctic needs to be strategic and well-thought out.
Ten years after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the Japanese government announced that it will release treated radioactive water from the destroyed plant into the ocean beginning in 2023. The decision to dump more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean has upset local fishers and surrounding countries.
Why This Matters: A decade after a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the decision to release water into the ocean is just one part of the prolonged decommissioning of the plant.
Hundreds of citizens will fan out across the nation’s capital next week to meet with lawmakers in what’s projected to be the largest ocean lobby effort in US history. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they will meet with Biden administration officials, federal agencies, and members of Congress for a nonpartisan Ocean Climate Action Hill Day.
Why It Matters: As the Biden administration and the Congress begin to debate what’s infrastructure and therefore within the American Jobs Plan, the blue economy needs to be front and center in it.
The Evergiven is no longer stuck in the Suez Canal, but world shipping is hardly back to normal. In just six days, the massive container ship held up almost $60 billion in global trade. Supply chains across the world are delayed and off schedule, and the incident has economists and maritime experts across the globe reevaluating the efficacy of the current shipping economy.
Why this Matters: The pandemic has rocketed demand for goods (and vaccines) to all-time highs, but bottlenecks at many major ports and slow shipping speed could slow the global economy just as it begins to recover from COVID-19.
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