Thursday, July 29, 2010

Disaster? Not if you're an oil company or a shipping company

The June 2010 issue of Bulletin of the American Meteorlogical Society (BAMS) has produced its annual State of the Climate report and, to put it bluntly and unscientifically, it ain't pretty. Using 37 indicators, over 300 scientists from 48 countries agreed that the ten indicators directly related to surface warming (7 which increase and 3 which decrease) are not just clear but significantly so.

Each decade since the 1980s has seen an increase on average of 1/5th of a degree F. And each decade has been warmer than the previous. The first decade of the 21st Century now stands to become the warmest on record with the preceding 9 years having produced warmer years than the decade of the 1990s.

If you would like to read a summary and highlights without having to wade through the entire report, go here.

Of course, with the near surety of an Arctic meltdown, two particular groups are cheering (and ignoring the long-term disaster that accompanies their particular good fortune): oil companies and shipping companies.

The oil companies would love to be able to tap into the offshore oil in the Arctic basin. The problem has always been those pesky ice floes. Get rid of them and, well, they can delay peak oil by almost a year.

The shipping companies have always drooled over the idea of a Northwest Passage. Hell, that's essentially why Canada was explored.

Consider that the current route from Rotterdam to Vancouver is a 9,000 mile voyage via the Panama Canal. The Northwest Passage would cut 2,000 miles off that trip, eliminate canal fees and eliminate canal delays. The trip from Rotterdam to Japan, China and Korea is over 11,000 miles through the Suez Canal and a couple of really nasty choke points infested with pirates. The same trip via the Northwest Passage? About 6,500 miles. Less fuel, less time, no canal fees, no pirates.

Risk to the remnants of an Arctic eco-system? Huge.

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