August 18, 2007
The Global Warming Gold Rush
Still, I am excited by the prospect that there might be winners from climate change. The Arctic contains vast reserves of gas and oil (25% of the world’s undeveloped hydrocarbons), minerals and even diamonds. A new gold rush is already beginning. Norway is just completing its huge “Snow White” gas development off northern Norway. Russia will ship oil in new ice-breaking tankers out of the top of Siberia and has just begun work on the enormous Shtokman field, 350 miles off its Arctic coast and a technological challenge beyond anything so far attempted in the Arctic. As the ice melts, the Northern Passage around Siberia will open to commercial shipping, cutting costs off the voyage to Europe from Japan and China. An even shorter direct route close to the North Pole may follow and then the Northwest Passage around Canada. Fish will provide another treasure. Most of the world’s commercial fish come from the colder waters away from the tropics. Already the retreating ice is opening up seas that have potential as rich, new fishing grounds. The people who see a new frontier in the Arctic are some of the most remarkable men and women I’ve met, prepared to make huge financial gambles and push technology to new limits. Environmentalists may not like them but they are part of the story of climate change too.
Wow. Visions of Lord Asriel readying his fleet…