11 November 2002
Icing on the cake
The United States Arctic Research Commission, noting that the polar zones are warming more quickly than the rest of the globe, has projected that in five to ten years, it will be possible to sail through what is now the Arctic ice cap at least a couple of months out of the year, cutting 6800 miles off the shipping distance from Asia to Europe. For supertankers, which have to round Cape Horn because they can't get through the Panama Canal, the difference is over 11,000 miles.
Assuming the Commission has called this one correctly, the fabled Northwest Passage is here at last, too late for Henry Hudson and Martin Frobisher, but on time to be a genuine boon to today's global commerce. And to think we did it all with our modest little SUVs.