"The numbers are coming in and we are looking at them with a sense of amazement," is how the director of the Snow and Ice data center in Colorado describes the 'startlingly rapid rate' of melting at the Arctic Ice Cap this year. As Agence France Presse notes, if the melt stopped today, this would be the third lowest level of ice on record. Of course while this maybe terrible news for some; others are 'increasingly interested'. The thaw in the Arctic is rapidly transforming the geopolitics of the region, with the long-forbidding ocean looking more attractive to the shipping and energy industries.
The first ship from China – the Xuelong, or Snow Dragon – recently sailed from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Arctic Ocean, cutting the distance by more than 40%. Five nations surround the Arctic Ocean – Russia, which has about half of the coastline, along with Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States – but the route could see a growing number of commercial players.
Of course this 'benefit' of global warming appears to rely on the fact that there are people left to trade goods with.