The economic impact of Arctic melt

The world is about to get a lot more real estate and also some new water lanes:

The shipping shortcuts of the Northern Sea Route (over Eurasia) and the
Northwest Passage (over North America) would cut existing oceanic
transit times by days, saving shipping companies — not to mention
navies and smugglers — thousands of miles in travel. The Northern Sea
Route would reduce the sailing distance between Rotterdam and Yokohama
from 11,200 nautical miles — via the current route, through the Suez
Canal — to only 6,500 nautical miles, a savings of more than 40
percent. Likewise, the Northwest Passage would trim a voyage from
Seattle to Rotterdam by 2,000 nautical miles, making it nearly 25
percent shorter than the current route, via the Panama Canal. Taking
into account canal fees, fuel costs, and other variables that determine
freight rates, these shortcuts could cut the cost of a single voyage by
a large container ship by as much as 20 percent — from approximately
$17.5 million to $14 million — saving the shipping industry billions
of dollars a year. The savings would be even greater for the megaships
that are unable to fit through the Panama and Suez Canals and so
currently sail around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn.

Here is the full article, which is interesting throughout; if you read only five magazine-like articles this year, this should be one of them.  How about this bit?

Between 1958 and 1992, Russia dumped 18 nuclear reactors into the Arctic Ocean, several of them still fully loaded with nuclear fuel.

I might add that, historically, struggles over new territory tend to bring conflict.  The creation of new Arctic "territory" is one of the most important issues in the world right now.


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