Climate Change opens the Northwest Passage

by DonnaLynne

For centuries explorers and traders have wanted to do one thing: get around the obstacle of the North American continent in order to get to the riches of Asia. Now, thanks to the effects of climate change, the long-fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic Circle is becoming a reality.

On David Thoreson’s 73 day, 6640 mile journey from Greenland to Nome, Alaska to raise awareness about climate change, the passage was ironically proved as a viable reality for oceanic shipping in the near future as arctic sea ice around the Arctic Circle recedes. Some companies are even sending land speculators to the region in the hopes of securing propriety ports for their companies.

For around 500 years, sailors wanting to get to the Pacific and Asia have had three options available to them. Go overland, which takes a lot of time and entails costs and delays. Go around the roaring 40s, south of Tierra del Fuego at the tail end of South America, where even today skyscraper-sized superwaves swallow ships whole. Or take the Panama Canal, which limits the size the cargo ships can carry to the width of the Canal itself.

The speed of the receding ice is matched only by the speed that speculators are sending prospectors up to the region. The Russians and the Chinese have recently indicated interest in establishing ports in the region within the next 15 years, opening up fears of a new international land grab for mining and mineral rights and oil exploitation.

I was amazed by this information. Sure goes to show how the planet's changing.

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