The fabled North West Passage, allowing shipping from Asia to Europe to navigate via the Arctic Ocean, is now routinely used. This passage cost the lives of many earlier expeditions. Times have changed, and a century of relentless global warming has loosened the Arctic’s icy grip.
But the North East Passage? In the last week the first ever commercial shipping have conquered this once impregnable divide. The pace of destruction of the Arctic ice mass is accellerating. This September has seen the third smallest Arctic ice mass ever recorded. The other two years? 2007 and 2008.
Regional climatic circumstances meant early 2009 was unusually cold, yet the late summer melt was almost as bad as it’s ever been. The top of our world may be entirely ice-free within the next few years. One estimate calculates this will have the same albedo-altering effect on global warming as 70% of all the fossil fuels burned in the last two centuries.
Should we be worried? Hell yes. Instead, the US, Canada, Russia and Denmark are licking their chops in anticipation of soon having unfettered access to billions of tons of oil deposits beneath what is now sea ice. It’s a mad, mad world.