For the first time in modern history, the North Pole may be iceless this summer. Scientists say it's an even bet that sea ice in the region will completely disappear in the next few months, perhaps as soon as August.
"If the North Pole melts, then you don't have to worry about the Northwest Passage. It will still be significant, but going on top of the globe would be politically easier," Mahoney said.
A UN panel is supposed to decide on control of the Arctic by 2020. Last year, Canada's Conservative government announced plans to acquire up to eight Arctic patrol ships and to build an army base in Resolute Bay and a naval station in Nanisivik.(Inter)National security is also at stake as nations do legal battle and put ships to sea in the wake of the ice breaking apart to own the future shipping lanes as well as the vast mineral resources located in the northern polar region. Big oil, already making windfall profits, is bound and determined to go to work to mine and drill the region. After the decade old debacle of the Exxon Valdez epic environmental disaster, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in its hat tip to big piggy oil profits, reduced $2,000,000,000 US off the maritime penalty they ignominiously merited in destroying the Alaskan indigenous peoples water in Prince Williams Sound, their homes and live in harmony with nature way of life, it removes any fear big oil has about accountability on future spills. Whoever controls the never before opened Northwest Passage, controls the economic engine. Russia, Canada nor US is ceding anything to each other while the UN dithers on a decision until 2020 . In 2007 from Murmansk, Russia tested its nuclear powered ice breaker, 50 лет Победы, transliterated as 50 Let Pobedy or NS (Nuclear Sub) Fifty Years Since Victory. Ice shelf melting pushes the resource race to a higher level of insecurity. (Trio Photo by Martin Jakobsson Associated Press)
All (sic, nations) are studying the underwater geology to try to increase their claims. Under international law countries have exclusive economic rights to the sea within 200 nautical miles of their coast. If, however, they can prove that the continental shelf extends beyond that limit, the rights can stretch to 350 nautical miles.
Others have a different dream for a warmed-up Arctic – as a new cradle of civilisation. Trausti Valsson, professor of environmental planning at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, believes that as rising temperatures make many lower latitudes uninhabitable, so the lands around the Arctic will evolve into “the new Mediterranean”, with towns and cities springing up in Arctic Canada, Alaska and Siberia.
Such a scenario may seem unlikely now but an ice-free Arctic would have many attractions – not least being the Northwest Passage itself, which would immediately cut 5,000 miles from shipping routes between Europe and Asia via the Suez canal and whose development would prompt pressure for new ports along Canada’s northern coast.
However, most climate researchers view such thinking with despair. “It is a great irony,” said Serreze, “that the melting of the ice cap could give us access to yet more fossil fuels that will accelerate climate change even further.
“I suspect the only thing that is going to stop humanity wrecking the planet is when we get hit by some serious ecological disasters, and by then it may well be too late.”
So, in the weirdest bit of economic irony, the theory of Santa Claus cemented in commercialism and run amok cash capitalism squeezing every dime and bit of blinking plastic goo gaws out of the season of giving, may be helped by global warming by building a tourist laden frozen Disney mecca at the home of Santa Claus, degrading the environment further, while making more global warming bad case scenarios. The Northern Lights are already gorgeous beyond belief, a marketing campaign around them just makes me cringe. Slaps forehead...
To learn about the Northwest passage which lured all manner of ice ships towards it like a beacon, look no further than great nonfiction adventure stories like Martin W. Sandler's Resolute: The Epic search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin and the Queen's Ghost Ship. The serious business of oil exploration and the threats is found in Oil, Globalization, And the War for the Arctic Refuge authored by David M. Standlea.