SEPTEMBER 2007 IN
RICK ASTER’S WORLD

The Northwest Passage Is Open

It’s a moment in history that people have been waiting for for four centuries. This month the Northwest Passage is open.

It was not Canada, which owns key parts of the Northwest Passage, that made the announcement, but the European Space Agency, which presented a satellite photo composite of the entire route ice-free.

Arctic Ocean ice mostly melts every summer and begins to freeze again as the days get shorter in October. This year, though, more ice melted than ever before, resulting in an area of ice coverage that is 1/3 less than ever seen before. If ice continues to melt at this rate, almost the entire Arctic coast could be ice-free next summer.

At the same time, scientists are reporting that the summer thickness of Arctic ice is falling rapidly. Most of the Arctic Ocean was covered with 2 meters of ice 6 years ago, but the thickness is now just 1 meter.

Canadian maritime authorities had been planning on regular cargo traffic through the Northwest Passage perhaps as early as 2012, and this year they started to draw up plans to build an Arctic port. They will have to accelerate those plans now, as it seems likely that the waterways will be navigable every September from now on.

The Northwest Passage results in dramatically shorter shipping routes between northwest Europe and northeast Asia. The route between Sweden and Japan could be just half the distance of the current route through the Panama Canal.

The U.S. news media barely mentioned this major historical event, and it’s a sign of how little relevance they have left. The world is changing all around us, and the corporate news people have their heads in the sand.


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