Some people - whiny pessimistic doomsayers with no vision - look at global warming and see flooding and climatic catastrophes, but not Scott Borgerson. Mr. Borgerson sees OPPORTUNITY!
A quarter of the world's oil and natural gas resources lie in the Arctic, but until recently polar ice rendered many of these deposits inaccessible.
Now, with each passing year the warmest on record in the polar regions, the ice is melting, and more and more of these deposits are being tapped to feed the world's ravenous appetite for energy. With the price of oil soaring, wildcatters race to hoist derricks in waters where the ice has retreated. Miners, loggers and fishermen are also chasing newly exploitable natural resources.
Yet perhaps the most significant consequence of the melt is the rising potential for Arctic navigation. The polar thaw may lead to what would be the most transformational maritime project since the Panama Canal: an Arctic Bridge.
The holy grail of a shortcut from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific has lured explorers to extreme latitudes for centuries. Those explorers' dream could become a reality in our lifetime. An Arctic marine highway made possible by the dwindling of sea ice would cut existing oceanic transit times by days, saving shipping companies... thousands of miles in travel.
A continued reduction in Arctic sea ice, supported by a growing network of ports, roads and railways, could radically transform trade patterns. Those able to adjust their mental maps and capitalize on this new seaway would surely benefit.
Admittedly, even going by the most optimistic projection, a fully navigable Arctic is unlikely to emerge for a decade or more, and depending on whose climate change model you accept, it could take much longer. But unless warming trends come to an abrupt halt, the Arctic region will surely witness increased activity in the foreseeable future and could, in time, become a hub of global activity.
Interesting use of the word "optimistic," neh? Yes, Mr. Borgerson's biggest concern about global warming is that it may not be happening fast enough. Oh well, I suppose the world can put that Arctic shortcut to good use ferrying supplies to flood and hurricane victims...