Earlier in the year I was dismayed by an arcticle in Discover Magazine (January 2008 issue, page 22) that played up last year's Law of the Sea mapping expedition as a hurried response to the Russian's dropping their flag at the North Pole. They actually implied that the Healy was diverted off her current course to run up to the Arctic in a show of American force:
"Within days of the twin Mir descent, the U.S. Coast Guard had dispatched the icebreaker Healy north of Alaska to spend nearly a month mapping the Arctic Ocean's floor..."
Nevermind the fact that a quick Google search would have taken them to CCOM's Law of the Sea webpage where not only can you see that we have been mapping up there since 2003, but also that the data is publicly available for download. Yes, even the Ruskies can download it (gasp!). I should also point out that in June of 1990, the US and Russia signed the
Sadly, Discover was only one in any number of magazines and newspapers to twist this story. This year, it seems, will be no different. The New York Times is another culprit, as evidenced by a recent article, "Arctic in Retreat" (September 8, 2008), the subject of Betsy's blog. The "disputes" and "conflicts" mentioned in these articles are simply nonexistent. Sure, countries are mapping the Arctic so they can submit their claims to the Law of the Sea Commission, but that is about as heated as gets right now.
I am sure this is just the start. It will be interesting to see how the media continues to spin international mapping expeditions in the Arctic, especially as the ice continues to retreat and the Arctic itself becomes more accessible.