Global warming opens Northeast Passage in Arctic

Bulk ore carrier travels through the Arctic from Europe to China

Editor, The Times:

In the Dec 24-31, 2012 edition of the New Yorker there is a feature article (excellent, as so much of the material in the New Yorker is) called Polar Express.

It is written by Keith Gessen, ‘reporter at large,’ who rides a Danish bulk carrier Nordic Odyssey carrying some 65,000 tons of iron ore from Murmansk, Russia, to a newly constructed port Huanghua in China.

There are other routes – through the Suez (right into the hands of Somali pirates) or around the Cape of Good Hope — too much time and fuel.

But as Mads Petersen, co-chairman of Nordic Bulk – owner of the Odyssey – stated, “I thought maybe the Northern Sea route has opened up because of global warming. In Denmark you do not read an article about global warming. You hear about it all the time.”

So Peterson contacted Rosatomflat, the state-owned company that owns Russia’s six nuclear icebreakers. Three hundred thousand dollars later they were off to follow the Northeast Passage.

And they made it through about two days late – in plenty of good time.

They saw lots of ice. They plowed through lots of ice. However only once were they stopped for a few hours, waiting for the ice breaker Vaygach to extricate them.

The ice that led to the death of Dutch explorer William Barents and many others simply wasn’t there.

“Post Soviet Russians tend to be sceptical about global warming,” the article reads.

When Vladimir Putin stated that human activity has just had a minimal tiny effect within the margin of error, Vladimir Lipenkov from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of St. Petersburg replied, “It is not within the margin of error. Right now … the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is significantly higher than at any time in the last 500,000 years.”

If one can get the facts, some of them anyway, to acknowledge the existence of global warming, there is hope for all of us.

Not as much as one could hope for. But it’s a start.

Dennis Peacock


Clearwater, B.C.