After twenty years out of fashion, the term 'cold war' has become the hot favourite in Fleet Street once more. Not just because diplomatic relations between Russia and the UK distinctly frosty at the moment, but Russia's current Arctic adventures are lowering the temperature even further.
A Russian mini-submarine is currently exploring the ocean floor beneath the Arctic ice cap, partly as an attempt to claim more territory and extend her borders - according to the Observer, a symbolic flag will be planted on the sea bed. But it's also about grabbing a share of the oil and gas deposits that are thought to be lurking in the murky sediment. Some claim that 18 per cent of the world's oil reserves lie there and the dollar signs are starting to light up in people's eyes. And it's not just the Russians eyeing up this sunken treasure - Canada, the US and even Denmark (through its territory in Greenland) are rumbling about their own rights.
The horrible irony is that it's because the Arctic ice cap is melting that these deposits are accessible. Before now, the cost of extraction and lower oil prices made it not worth the hassle to go drilling up there, but now it's becoming economically viable to go oil hunting. Burning this oil will increase greenhouse gas emissions, warming the atmosphere and melting the cap still further, so even more areas are opened for exploitation. You can kind of see the logic.
On the Greenpeace UK blog, we've already heard this week from Aqqaluk Lynge of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and his first-hand tales of how climate change is wrecking the polar communities. Now a new geopolitical struggle threatens to eradicate their culture along with the rest of the ice cap. Surely there's a better solution to international tensions over dwindling fossil fuel supplies? There certainly is, a much more convenient one.