The Northwest Passage is about to open for business.
The polar ice is melting. This isn’t great for the world and it’s going to have an irreversible and devastating effect on our lives. Some island countries, like the Maldives, may no longer exist as the water levels rise. Again, this is bad. Climate change is real and it’s having a profound impact globally.
That being said, there is at least one economic advantage to the polar ice melting. Traders will soon be able to use the Northwest Passage as a means of crossing the ocean.
The Northwest Passage is a sea route that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic Ocean. For more than a hundred years, countries have been seeking a way to traverse this passage. The polar ice made this an impossible problem to solve. Climate change is changing that.
Around 100 years ago, Roald Admundsen, a Norwegian explorer, traveled across the Northwest Passage with 6 men in a small fishing vessel. While hugging the coast, the ship and crew were able to make it from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It took them 3 years.
While getting a small boat across the passage was relatively easy, getting an enormous shipping boat was nearly impossible.
However, the IMPOSSIBLE has now become the POSSIBLE…..
In 2013, a commercial ship, the MS Nordic Orion, was the first ship able to traverse the passage. After the MS Nordics success, shipping companies and countries a like, set their sights on using this Northwest route as part of their shipping plans.
Among these countries, China is one of the major players that the opening of the passage will benefit.
The route from Asia to the markets of Europe are extremely long right now. To go from Japan to Western Europe, ships have to go through the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal and then across the Mediterranean Sea. That’s a 13,000 mile journey. Going through the Northwest Passage, that route is cut down to 7,000 miles.
Using the Northwest Passage saves time and fuel, saving a lot of people A LOT of money. The opening of this route would be a major boom to the global shipping economy. The aforementioned MS Nordic Orion saved $80,000 in fuel costs, $200,000 overall and 4 days by using the Northwest Passage.
One of the major issues limiting the use of this navigable seaway right now are the legalities of whose water it is. Canada believes it is their water and therefore should be able to charge other countries shipping boats to use it. If it’s their waterway, then Canada could become the kingpin of the shipping industry. They could decide which countries get to use the passage and then tax them.
The rest of the world thinks this is a little bogus. They contend that the Northwest Passage should be treated as an international waterway. International waterways are created to ensure that certain countries can’t hog important seaways and create navigational chokepoints.An international waterway is free to access by all. The Danish straits, the Turkish straits and even the Danube River are all international waterways, for example. If the Northwest Passage was an international waterway, Canada wouldn’t be able to tax ships that go through it.
Only time can tell what the final verdict will be, but one thing is for certain, countries will be foaming at the mouth to get their boats into the Northwest Passage.
The polar ice melting has opened up the greatest shipping shortcut in the world, one with unbelievable economic advantages. It’s too bad it came about as a result of global warming.