Question: Arctic ice melting events are catastrophic for world but they also pose a significant opportunity for economic development of the region. Analyse loss and benefits of ice melting events.
Answer: The Arctic council has gained attention in recent times due to changes in ice structure in arctic region. Global warming is mainly responsible for such events but it has opened new economic gateways for development around the region. India has been an observer in the group along with China.
Drawbacks of ice melt events
- Disrupt north Atlantic shipping routes
North Atlantic route between Europe and North America is one of the busiest and most important trade routes. Recent melting of sea ice has resulted in ice bergs breaking away towards the path. This has resulted in slowing down of the speed of movement.
- Increase in sea levels
Sea ice melt has the ability to increase sea levels upto 50cm in future. This can drown low lying regions of the world especially in developing countries such as India, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Latin America. Large number of people are expected to be climate refugees.
- Threat to biodiversity
Biodiversity of Arctic region are specific to the region due to the cold climate. As sea ice melts and floating ice vanish, the flora and fauna of the region will undergo destruction. These biodiversity will not be supported anywhere else.
Ex: Polar bear are endemic to Arctic region.
Economic benefits of Arctic ice melt
- Mineral exploration
It is estimated that large amount of unexplored minerals are located under the permanent ice in Arctic. These include petroleum and natural gas. If sea ice melts, it provides opportunity for exploring and development of such industry.
Melting of ice in Arctic will open new trade routes between Arctic countries and rest of the world. In current scenario, sea ports are accessible only for certain period. The ice melt will make ports permanently accessible.
Ex: Easier connectivity between West and East coast of Canada without passing through Panama canal.