Open by 2050: Shipping Lanes in North Pole

Climate change opening up China-Europe shortcut
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2013 2:21 AM CST
Updated Mar 9, 2013 1:20 PM CST
Open by 2050: North Pole Shipping Lanes
Smooth sailing by 2050?   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

Climate change has got its upside if you happen to own a shipping company. Researchers say that by 2050, the Arctic ice sheet will be weak enough for cargo ships to take the northern route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans without the aid of icebreakers, the Guardian reports. Ships with just moderate ice protection will be able to sail directly over the North Pole, making it a lot faster and cheaper to ship goods from China to Europe.

Scientists, who studied seven different climate models, say it's too late to cut carbon emissions enough to prevent the change, the Telegraph reports. As big business spies new Arctic opportunities, environmentalists are campaigning to create a sanctuary in the region. The Arctic "is melting because of our use of dirty fossil fuel energy, and in the near future it could be ice-free for the first time since humans walked the Earth," Greenpeace's Save the Arctic petition states. "This would be not only devastating for the people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses, and other species that live there—but for the rest of us too," because the region's ice helps cool down the world by reflecting sunlight. (Read more North Pole stories.)

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