As the Arctic ice caps shrink due to the warming of the planet, it's expected that vast reserves of additional oil and gas will become available, as approximately 25 percent of the planet's petroleum is thought to lie under the polar ice caps. In an effort to map these hydrocarbon resources, the US Geological Society (USGS), BP, and Statoil will be heading far north to conduct widespread surveys next year.

What is frustrating a few people is that the survey activity will take place in conjunction with the International Polar Year, which is a large scientific project intended to establish benchmark polar environmental data so that the future effects of global warming can be understood. To critics, this seems a bit like joining the World Wildlife Federation to help collect data on endangered species, only to bring a hunting rifle just in case something looks tasty.

[Sources: Taipai Times; International Polar Year]