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7 Crazy Facts You Should Know About The Arctic

12/08/2011 10:23 am ET | Updated Feb 07, 2012

The Arctic is coming in from the cold. We've all seen the pictures of starving polar bears, staring bleakly at the retreating pack ice on which their survival depends. But as the polar ice cap shrinks, this oceanic basin is also opening up to human activity. And as its vast economic resources become increasingly accessible, it looks set to become a cauldron of commercial potential and political conflict.

In his my book, "Cold Front: Conflict Ahead in Arctic Waters" [Counterpoint; $26.00] I analyze both the opportunities and the dangers of an increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean--from a possible oil spill that would make the Deepwater Horizon's explosion look like a little local difficulty, to an unpredictable eruption of military conflict.

Here are seven crazy things you didn't know about the Arctic, but probably should:

Arctic Facts

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