Why Are We So Keen to Sail the Arctic
Arctic ice has been receding at a rapid and alarming rate over the past decade. We’ve seen the Northwest Passage open for the first time in recorded and memorable history, ice receding to its lowest point in centuries, and talk of using the once impassable Arctic Ocean as a means to cut shipping times.
And the first thing that people think of is not banning shipping, but rather how to best chart the waters to increase shipping.
Here are some of the comments coming from those involved or linked to the proposed expedition by the NOAA to chart the Arctic waters;
“We have seen a substantial increase in activity in the region and ships are operating with woefully outdated charts,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. “I have introduced legislation that authorizes a significant increase in funding for mapping the Arctic, and I am pleased to see NOAA beginning the process. While this is a good start, we still need more resources to adequately map this region.”
“Commercial shippers aren’t the only ones needing assurances of safety in new trade routes,” notes Captain John Lowell, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “The additional potential for passenger cruises, commercial fishing and other economic activities add to pressures for adequate response to navigational risks.”
The only person to even mention climate change, Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, only wants to stabilize the area for “oil and gas development and marine transportation” so that they are “done safely and responsibly.”
Granted, any comment that is easily accessible at the moment has been sourced by the NOAA itself and is therefore going to be complimentary to the aims of the mission. I hope that I am not the only one who believes that pushing for ease of access into the Arctic waters is a bad idea.
Not only will intrusion into already susceptible and fragile waters harm the environs and potentially cause or accelerate damage already done to the region, but there are untold numbers of ecosystems and life forms that have never had to deal with human made vessels trudging through their home.
The impact could be devastating beyond belief, and the seeming lack of concern is worrying, though not atypical. Given the opportunity to increase ones revenue stream, all manner of environmental concerns will be flung out the nearest window, water and baby and bath and all.