Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nations more interested in economic benefits of Northwest Passage than in consequences of melting North Polar ice cap

Most reports about global warming in the Arctic stress the rapidity with which the summer ice is disappearing, and the vicious cycle set up: blue water retains more summer heat than ice, so the warming in northern latitudes increases even more rapidly.

Yet, an article in U.S. News and World Report, Oct. 13-20, 2008 by Thomas Omestad, on p. 53, would lead one to believe that the short term economic benefits of opening the fabled Northwest Passage are most on the minds of international politicians. The story is titled “The Race for the Arctic: As the ice melts, nations eye oil and gas deposits and shipping routes,” link here. Sarah Palin, who keeps her eye on Russia from her living room window, practically speaking, seems particularly aware of this.

The irony is, of course, that we must do both. Whatever the soft prices for oil commodities right now during the deflationary global financial crisis, they will surely return. The underlying problem is that the world has no idea how to manage, in financial terms, a switch to renewable energy. “Cap and trade” systems and carbon credits don’t themselves build new infrastructures for clean energy. Zachary Coile has an important article Oct 13 in The San Francisco Chronicle, “Fiscal woes could delay climate change efforts,” link here.

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