From Foreign Affairs:
“Thanks to global warming, the Arctic icecap is rapidly melting, opening up access to massive natural resources and creating shipping shortcuts that could save billions of dollars a year. But there are currently no clear rules governing this economically and strategically vital region. Unless Washington leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the Arctic could descend into armed conflict.”
How hot this is? Check it out:
“The shipping shortcuts of the Northern Sea Route (over Eurasia) and the Northwest Passage (over North America) would cut existing oceanic transit times by days, saving shipping companies — not to mention navies and smugglers — thousands of miles in travel. The Northern Sea Route would reduce the sailing distance between Rotterdam and Yokohama from 11,200 nautical miles — via the current route, through the Suez Canal — to only 6,500 nautical miles, a savings of more than 40 percent. Likewise, the Northwest Passage would trim a voyage from Seattle to Rotterdam by 2,000 nautical miles, making it nearly 25 percent shorter than the current route, via the Panama Canal. Taking into account canal fees, fuel costs, and other variables that determine freight rates, these shortcuts could cut the cost of a single voyage by a large container ship by as much as 20 percent — from approximately $17.5 million to $14 million — saving the shipping industry billions of dollars a year. The savings would be even greater for the megaships that are unable to fit through the Panama and Suez Canals and so currently sail around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn.”
Do we take these numbers into account when computing global warming measures? That is, are we really heading into disaster or simply into a different world setup?
I also think it’s a bit funny that these issues all fall in the shoulders of the US. Why not Europe taking leadership over this? How about Japan? Is the factor here military force or economic power?
Can someone out there remind me again why we spend billions of dollars with the UN?