Russian president Vladimir Putin made two closely linked announcements yesterday in his weekly television broadcast.
The first was that Russia’s crude oil producer Rosneft has signed a blockbuster $85 billion deal to send an extra 100 million tons of crude oil to China over the next ten years. The second was the launching of a vast development project to build a series of year-round luxury resorts on the White Sea, most of which lies just below the Arctic Circle.
“We are confident,” said Putin, “that this huge energy deal with China, coupled with Canada’s exploitation of its tar sands, massive industrialization in China and India, and successful efforts by Saudi Arabia and the United States to block international agreements to cut carbon emissions, will easily suffice to warm the planet twelve to fifteen degrees within the next thirty years. That should make the White Sea region an attractive getaway spot for global tourism.”
“Although the White Sea currently freezes from October or November until May or June,” he continued, “its four large bays and many islands offer hundreds and hundreds of miles of coastline waiting to be developed. In thirty years it will be not too cold, not too hot, but just right.”
“Billionaires and major corporate entities will have the opportunity to buy and name their own White Sea islands. The general public can enjoy year-round swimming, sunbathing, sailing, surfboarding, snorkeling, and sport fishing all along the coast once the planet heats up,” Putin said. “When that happens, we plan to have our docks, shops, and other facilities and infrastructure in place to take full advantage of it.”
“Your development proposals show drawings of palm trees swaying in sea breezes, with shimmering turquoise waters lapping at beautiful white sand beaches as the sun begins to set. Is that really the scenario you’re envisioning?” asked a reporter.
“That may be a bit fanciful,” Putin admitted. “It won’t quite be Bermuda in February. But then Bermuda will no longer be Bermuda in February either. After being roasted, boiled, and baked for eleven months, people from south of the Arctic will flock to our mild climate to get stewed and fried,” he joked.
Putin added that a series of canal boats have been commissioned to serve as floating casinos, with weekend trips to the Baltic along the scenic White Sea Canal.
Not to be outdone, Finland, Norway, and Sweden immediately announced their intention to form a regional development commission to plan getaways in their own frigid northern parts.
Climate scientists were skeptical about the development plans.
“He’s on the money with his warming projections,” said one leading expert, “but he doesn’t seem to be taking into account the rise in ocean waters that will result once the polar ice caps and Greenland ice sheet melt. Those islands in the White Sea are likely to be submerged. And the present-day coastline will vanish as the sea rises and moves inland. How far back from today’s shoreline is he planning to build these resorts?”
Putin scoffed at such criticisms. “What do they know about real estate ventures?” he asked rhetorically. “They’re only scientists.”
Top financial analysts, however, seemed to have no doubt which way the wind was blowing. “I’d put my money into gas and oil stocks,” said leading investor Warren Smorgasbord, “and pull the plug on seaside developments.”
© Tony Russell, 2013