Question: The melting of polar ice, while being detrimental to climate change, opens up an opportunity for expanding global shipping trade. Elaborate.
Answer: The previously inaccessible part of the globe is now opening up due to melting of polar ice. Arctic countries will now have more options to develop ports. The melting of ice may raise sea level across the globe, but it has some unexpected advantages too.
Threats posed by polar ice melt
- Sea level rise
The biggest and immediate threat is the rise in sea levels due to addition of polar fresh water. Cities near the coast will get frequent floods and low areas may completely be lost to sea.
- Biodiversity disappearance
Many flora and fauna adjusted to polar regions may completely disappear in future. Species such as Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Seals and Walrus may get extinct.
- Carbon emission
Permafrost holds large amounts of trapped carbon. They were trapped due to snow and freezing climate. After melting, these emissions may increase the carbon concentrations.
Potential benefits for trade and commerce
- Shorter shipping routes
Countries such as China and Japan can get easier access to Europe through the polar route. The time taken for movement will reduce significantly.
- Development of new ports
New ports will appear in Siberian Russia and also polar regions of Norway, Greenland and Canada. Global economy will receive a boost.
- Mineral exploration
Large untapped fossil fuels and minerals are expected to be present in previously ice regions. They may generate new revenue for many countries.
Thus, polar ice melt events may rejuvenate economic trade but the effects of melting will be detrimental to future of Earth.