Digital rendering of the Arctic Circle showing the loss of sea ice

Students will reflect on land distribution and resources of the Arctic Ocean. They will present arguments about offshore oil drilling during a ‘policy meeting.’

Royal Canadian Geographical Society

© 2013, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Learning object

Slicing the Polar Pie

Lesson overview

Students will reflect on the biases involved in land distribution, in this case the Arctic Ocean and its hidden resources. Students will research the benefits and costs of offshore oil drilling, both from an environmental and economic perspective. They will present arguments during a policy meeting and then vote to decide the more appropriate policy.

Grade level

Grade 12

Time required

Two 60 minute periods, may require extra time for research

Curriculum connection

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian Geography 1202

5.4 Students will analyze activities related to the exp Read More
Learning object

Slicing the Polar Pie

Lesson overview

Students will reflect on the biases involved in land distribution, in this case the Arctic Ocean and its hidden resources. Students will research the benefits and costs of offshore oil drilling, both from an environmental and economic perspective. They will present arguments during a policy meeting and then vote to decide the more appropriate policy.

Grade level

Grade 12

Time required

Two 60 minute periods, may require extra time for research

Curriculum connection

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian Geography 1202

5.4 Students will analyze activities related to the exploration and recovery of off-shore oil and gas.

11.2 Students will analyze features of Canada’s political ties to the international community.

11.6 Students will explore issues related to Canada’s interdependence with the world community.

Additional resources, materials and equipment required

*Texts and/or computer with internet access for information on offshore oil drilling

*Paper and pens for taking notes

*Stopwatch or timer

Main objective

The main objective of the lesson is for students to analyze environmental, economic and political issues that arise over land and resource disputes. Students will identify the costs and benefits of offshore oil drilling and make an informed decision regarding its use, while examining its effect on Canada’s relationship with other nations.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

*Explore the regional and country biases associated with the division of land and resources
*Identify the costs and benefits of offshore oil drilling to the environment and economy
* Discuss their stance on offshore oil drilling, and respond to the opinions of others
*Predict the conflicts that can arise between regions regarding division of land and resources

Introduction

Begin by introducing the learning object, focusing on the current ownership of the Arctic Ocean. Ask students what Canada could do with the increased territory. Answers may include fishing, transportation and oil.

Compare the two proposed divisions of the Arctic Ocean among the five boundary countries. Ask the students which one division they would select and why.

Ask students if their opinion is biased and why. Would other countries try to get the most resource-rich area?

Using previous knowledge, students will share ideas on how Canada could use the extended Arctic territory.

Students will contribute to a discussion of what division is reasonable or which one they would select on behalf of Canada.

Encourage students to consider any biases affecting their decisions. What interests would other countries have?

Lesson development

Provide students with information on offshore oil drilling, or have students research independently. They should investigate offshore oil rigs that already exist, and any policies or issues surrounding their development. Students should also compare the benefits and costs to the economy and environment. Topics could include the areas of The Gully and Grand Banks, Maritime offshore rigs Terra Nova, Hibernia and White Rose, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gannet Alpha rig and spill in the North Sea.

After researching the pros and cons of offshore oil drilling, students will take one of three positions. (Or, for the sake of having three even groups you may want to assign them a position).

The positions are:

1. There should be no offshore oil drilling and Canada must work to reduce all use of fossil fuels;

2. Offshore drilling may continue on pre-existing rigs, but steps should be taken to ensure no more damage to the environment and no new rigs are built;

3. Offshore drilling should continue, as it is a necessary step in supporting the economy.

Students will work in their groups to prepare for a ‘policy meeting.’ They need to prepare an opening and closing statement, as well as enough support for two additional comments. You may want to include more opportunities to speak if you have a larger class.

Review what appropriate behaviour looks and sounds like during a debate or forum. Begin the meeting with a brief explanation of the order of speakers. You may want to have a copy of this written on the board. The teacher may chair the meeting or a student may be selected. Each speaker should have a time limit of 1-2 minutes. A different student should speak each time. Group A makes their opening statement, then B and C provide evidence in response. Group B will speak, and C and A answer, then C will speak and A and B answer. Then A, B and C make closing statements.

Students will read or research about current offshore oilrigs and the accidents and spills that have occurred. They will look critically at the benefits and costs to the environment and economy and decide where they stand on continuing offshore oil drilling.

Students will select a position or take note of the position assigned to them.

Students will gather in their groups and create a list of supporting facts for their position. Create an opening and closing statement, as well as responses to expected arguments from the other positions.

Students will actively participate in the policy meeting by contributing a statement or response or by listening respectfully to the statements of others. Be sure they consider what arguments are most persuasive and which they agree with.

Conclusion

Putting aside their stance in the policy meeting, have students vote on which proposal they side with after hearing all arguments. Have a discussion about the class’ vote and the implications if that decision was made by the Canadian government.

Discuss what conflicts could occur if each country was trying to get the most benefit from the division of land and resources. What would happen if another country’s action caused environmental damage to the Arctic? What actions could the Canadian government take?

Students should realize that there are no simple solutions to the division of the Arctic Ocean and harnessing its resources.

After hearing arguments from all three groups, students will vote for the position they personally agree with. It is alright if their position has changed. They will compare the class opinion with the stance they believe the Canadian government will take.

Students will examine the conflicts that could arise over a territory dispute between 5 countries. They will share ideas on how much control would Canada have over the actions of another country, particularly if those actions were destructive to the environment.

Lesson extension

*Investigate resource-rich areas in other parts of the world and issues and conflicts that have arisen over the division of those resources. Include factors such as traditional land ownership, purchasing and selling resources, use of profit from resources, and fighting or wars influenced by the conflict.
* Devise a different way to slice the ‘polar pie.’ What would the division be based on? Examples of factors that students may select to contribute to the decision include: the area or population of each country, regional policies about resource harnessing and protection of the environment, investment in resource development and sharing of profit.

Assessment of student learning

Students can be assessed based on their participation and expression of ideas during discussions. Development and communication of arguments for the meeting can be assessed based on knowledge of offshore oil drilling, understanding of the associated benefits and costs, gathering and organization of material, communicating for the purpose of persuasion, and making connections between past issues and policies to those in the future. Students should be able to apply previous knowledge and new information to make an informed decision about offshore oil drilling, and to address the conflicts that may arise between regions due to the division of land and resources.

Further reading

North/Offshore Oil Development, National Energy Board:
http://www.neb-one.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rthnb/nrthffshr/nrthffshr-eng.html

Oil and the Environment, Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage website:
http://www.heritage.nf.ca/society/oil_environment.html

Link to Canadian National Standards for Geography

Geographic Skills:

*Systematically locate and gather geographic information from a variety of primary and secondary sources.
*Systematically assess the value and use of geographic information.
*Make inferences and draw conclusions from maps and other geographic representations.
*Use the processes of analysis, synthesis, evaluation and explanation to interpret geographic information from a variety of sources.
*Evaluate the answers to geographic questions.

Six essential elements:

1) The World in Spatial terms

*Map, globe, and atlas use

2) Places and Regions

*Physical and human processes shape places and regions
*The importance of places and regions to individual and social identity
*Changes in places and regions over time
*Interdependence of places and regions
*Political and historical characteristics of regions
*Critical issues and problems of places and regions
*Regional analysis of geographic issues and questions

3) Physical Systems

*Components of Earth’s physical system
*Global ocean and atmospheric systems

4) Human Systems

*Economic development by world regions, country and regions within countries
*Global economic interdependence
*Cooperation and conflict in the division and control of Earth’s surface

5) Environment and Society

*Global effects of human modification of the physical environment
*World patterns of resource distribution and utilization
*Use and sustainability of resources
*Environmental issues

6) The Uses of Geography

* Influence of geographical features on the evolution of significant historic events and movements
* Local, regional, and world policies and problems with spatial dimensions

© 2013, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Image of three maps of possible solutions for ownership of the Arctic

A map of possible solutions for ownership of the Arctic and of how to define the boundaries.

Canadian Geographic Education

© 2013, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Slicing the polar pie   Read More

Slicing the polar pie

 

Current ownership

 

Sovereignty is automatic for areas within a country’s 200- nautical-mile limit

• Claims can be extended beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit if a country can prove that its continental shelf surpasses the limit or that undersea ridges are part of its shelf. It is generally agreed that the Lomonosov Ridge is part of the continental shelf of both Russia and Canada. The nature of the Alpha-Mendeleyev Ridge is unclear, and the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge is not part of a continental shelf.  

 

Two proposals
for dividing the unclaimed polar region

 

Median line principle

 

• A median line is a line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest point on the shoreline

• Favours Canada and Denmark, doubling the portion each would receive under the sector method principle

• Russia would receive about the same under both principles

• The United Nations has shown some preference for this principle

• Based on straight longitude lines

• Favours the United States and Norway, doubling the portion each would receive under the median line principle

• Russia used this principle in its unsuccessful 2001 submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

 

Sector method principle

 

• Based on straight longitude lines

 

 • Favours the United States and Norway, doubling the portion each would receive under the median line principle (LEFT)

• Russia used this principle in its unsuccessful 2001 submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf


© 2013, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The main objective of the lesson is for students to analyze environmental, economic and political issues that arise over land and resource disputes. Students will identify the costs and benefits of offshore oil drilling and make an informed decision regarding its use, while examining its effect on Canada’s relationship with other nations.


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