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The Scramble for the Arctic


Ownership, Exploitation and Conflict in the Far North

Written by
Richard Sale
Eugene Potapov

Examines the history of the region and its exploration, the current state of ownership, the likely outcomes of today's powerplays, and what is at stake both politically and ecologically.

Current Affairs and Politics, Science and Nature, Travel

232 pages
216x138 mm
Out of Stock
Pre Order
Pub. Date:
7th January 2010

In August 2007 the world reacted with consternation as Russia planted a flag beneath the ice of the North Pole, symbolising the Kremlin’s claim to the Arctic with its vast mineral resources, and firing the starting gun on the world’s last colonial scramble.

The Scramble for the Arctic examines the history of the region and its exploration, the current state of ownership, the legal status of the Arctic and its waters, the likely outcomes of today’s powerplays, and what is at stake both politically and ecologically.

With the map literally being redrawn by global warming, the ownership of the Arctic will be one of the defining issues of the next decade. In this deeply informed and clearsighted account by two of the world’s leading Arctic scholars and explorers, Richard Sale and Eugene Potapov analyse the competing interests of nations, corporations, and indeed species.



The Formation of the Arctic Basin

Mineral Deposits in the Basin

A History of Ownership

Present Legislation

What the Future Holds

Richard Sale is one of the world's leading Arctic scholars and explorers and a professional glaciologist. He has written widely on Polar history, exploration and wildlife and is the author of many books, including To the Ends of the Earth: The History of Polar Exploration which was the 2003 UK Outdoor Writers Guild Best Book on an Outdoor Theme, and The Gyrfalcon (Popatov and Sale), which was the US Wildlife Society's Book of the Year for 2006.
Eugene Potapov is a world renowned specialist on arctic wildlife. He has been travelling in the Arctic for the last 25 years and written extensively on the biology of its birdlife, primarily birds of prey. He obtained his doctorate from Oxford University on Arctic birds. He is now a professor at Bryn Athyn College, Pennsylvania, USA. In 2006 Potapov and Sale were awarded the US Wildlife Society’s Book of the Year for their joint publication The Gyrfalcon.

Sale's book reminds us of two things. First, the history of the Arctic, from ancient indigenous peoples shaving off nickel-rich iron from fallen meteorites to the voyages of Norsemen, Frobisher and Bering, is fascinating. Second, the future of the Arctic, such a vulnerable locale, should be everyone's concern. The environmental case for acting quickly has secured broad concensus but, with our geopolitical heads on, we shouldn't forget that a scramble to exploit the Arctic's resources might just set the world on fire.


This intellectual account raises the heat on issues such as global warming, ownership, exploitation and conflict for what isthought to be one of the defining issues of the next decade and the last colonial scuttle.

Cotswold Life

Accessible and compelling.


Represents a well-researched and clearly written account of the signal failure of humanity to develop adequate protection for this great natural wonderland. I commend this book if only to help us all understand the issues which confront the Arctic over the coming decades.

Green Parent

Recommended reading

Financial Times

A dark outlook, but not without colour in its telling.


Packed with fascinating information on wildlife and is highhly recommended to naturalists, students and teachers as well as to a wider readership.


Sale provides an authoritative summary of the main issues confronting governments and corporations, and the consequences for the descendants of the original inhabitants.

Times Literary Supplement

Richard Sale writes with neat, scholarly precision, detailing the history of the region, its ecology and what the future is likely to bring both politically and geologically.

Good Book Guide
Frances Lincoln
Other books by this author
  • Best Walks in Southern Wales
  • Best Walks in North Wales
  • The Arctic
  • The Great Walks of Europe
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