“The intensifying rivalry over sea routes and mineral resources in the Arctic, itself a consequence of the climate emergency, has caused alarm over its environmental impact.
“Even during a pandemic and nationwide protests against state violence, the Trump administration is still finding new ways to exploit the climate crisis. He is truly the worst president for the planet we’ve ever had,” Charlie Cray, a senior researcher for Greenpeace USA, said.
“There are so many ways our tax dollars could be used to support Arctic communities. Helping out the oil industry and the military with a new fleet of icebreakers is definitely last on the list.”
Polar military experts are also sceptical over the urgency of the “icebreaker gap” with Russia.
“Icebreakers – even if armed – don’t really address some of the most commonly cited challenges that China and Russia might pose for the United States in the Arctic,” Paul Avey, assistant professor for political science at Virginia Tech university, argued. “This isn’t to say icebreakers can play no role in competition. But in narrow defence terms, I think that the best way to address China and Russia in the Arctic – and Antarctic – is to focus on issues in eastern Europe and the western Pacific.”