According to the BBC news today, the fabled ‘Northwest Passage’ that links Asia with the Americas via the northern coast of Canada is now open. Due to extensive shrinkage of the sea ice in the area, the route is now apparently navigable:
There is now a time of debate where Canada want to govern who uses the route, since it is within their territorial waters, and the American and European countries who claim it should be open for all to use no matter what.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone should use the route. It should remain closed and protected from human activities permanently. All that can happen is one more delicate ecosystem is going to become polluted and permanently damaged from spillages of fuel and oil, and suffer the detritus of human activity such as litter. This area, for so long in delicate balance, will be supporting an unknown level of wildlife that is about to face its biggest threat. We are apparently about to be deciding the future of this location, and what is the rationale for this?
It has got to be money. By using the northwest passage, shipping firms can save millions in fuel costs and time simply by using a much shorter route. They will no doubt not pass on those savings to anyone, let alone begin to pay money to repair the untold damage they have already caused throughout the world. They will almost certainly get richer and fatter, build bigger and bigger vessels and carry on with what they normally do.
Sod the wildlife, the shrinking ice is simply an opportunity.
Go for it fellas, and let’s hope that you don’t get ice-bound or strike too may icebergs en route.