The Ship of Things to Come

Global warming means that icebreaker ships will increasingly be able to traverse the fabled Northwest passage. As the Washington Post reports:

A relentless climb of temperature — 5 degrees in 30 years — is shrinking the Arctic ice and reawakening dreams of a 4,000-mile shortcut just shy of the North Pole, passing beside the Arctic’s beckoning oil and mineral riches.

When will the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Canadian Archipelago be “open to shipping all summer because of the ceaseless warming.” Some say it will still be many decades, while “Canada’s defense agency says 2015.” Given that global warming appears to be happening faster than most experts expected, I wouldn’t bet against the defense agency.

The Arctic has enormous oil resources, but, of course, the burning of oil is one of the principal sources of human-generated greenhouse gases. So If you look up “irony” in some not-so-distant-future dictionary, you may well see a picture of an oil tanker in ice-free polar waters filling up on an Arctic oil well.


Let’s hope that is not the ship of things to come.