Headline, October21, 2013



The Arctic is melting faster than almost anybody expected. It has just been reported that the area of sea ice has never been smaller. And having already surpassed previous annual low points in  2010, it will shrink so very soon, even further.

Since 1951 the Arctic has warmed roughly twice as much as the global average. So the latest record is a frightening milestone in the advance of climate change. Yet for many in Asia, in the short term, greed trumps fear. 

The thawing of the north offers the prospect both of access to untold mineral wealth and drastically shorter shipping routs to the Atlantic.

The US Geological Survey has estimated that some 30% of the World's undiscovered reserves of natural gas, and 13% of the undiscovered oil, lie in the Arctic. It also contains coal, iron, uranium, gold, copper, rare earths, gemstones, and much more, including, of course, fish.

For the resource hungry economies of North-East Asia   =China, Japan, South Korea   -the chance to exploit these riches seems unmissable.
So too is the hope that the North-East Passage above Russia, also known as the Northern Sea Route.

As well as the North-West Passage from the Atlantic over the top of North America, will become navigable for several months every summer, This routes cuts the voyage from Shanghai to Hamburg by 6400 Km compared with the southern journey through the Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal.

By the same token. the equatorial ports that have grown along the route   -in Singapore and Malaysia, and Hambantota in Sri Lanka   -might worry about their futures. In 2010, only four ships used the NSR; in 2011 34 passed through it   -compared with nearly 18,000 through the Suez Canal. 

Then the same year, August, the Xue Long, the world's largest non-nuclear powered icebreaker, became the first Chinese vessel to traverse the northern route.

Of all Asian countries eyeing the Arctic, it is invariably China that provokes the most interest, and, in some quarters, alarm, for many reasons. It is huge, desperate to secure supplies of energy and other minerals and nervous about the strategic vulnerability implied by its ''Malacca dilemma''   -that four-fifths of its energy imports pass through that narrow strait near Singapore.   

So, China has invested both financially and diplomatically in the Arctic. An article by Malte Humpert and Andreas Raspotnik of the Arctic Institute, a Washington think-tank, notes that China spends more on Polar research than America,  -though to put this in perspective, so does South Korea-.

It has a research station in the Svalbard archipelago, the northermost part of Norway, and is building a sister ship to the Xue Long, to go into service in 2014.

So just as the Arctic melts, Asia shudders at the risks but slavers at the opportunities. Just watch On...........!

The Post continues.
With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

!!! The Audacity Of Hope !!!

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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