Global Warming and the Arctic

There has been lots of discussion in recent years about the effects of global warming. In some circles it is more of a political debate than anything else. People are more worried about who to blame than looking for any positive outcomes. As with any change to the global climate, there will be pluses and minuses. Many will blame global warming on industrialization and global expansion. This is the type of world we live in. Countries want to grow their economies in the hope of creating financial prosperity. This growth demands energy in the form of natural resources.

We can’t have it both ways. We want bigger cars and bigger houses and to be able to go places. Along the way, desiring more of everything, including mobility as well as comfort and convenience. All this takes enormous amounts of energy. Unfortunately, our main source of this comes from natural resources. We are not at the point where nuclear, solar, wind or ocean energy can meet our growing demands. So fossil fuels will have to provide for the time being. The fact is that oil, gas, and coal are the prime resources we use to satisfy our needs. Unless some major breakthrough is made in the alternative energy field, for many decades we will continue to rely upon fossil fuels.

What has this got to do with global warming? It has been factually established that 40% of the Arctic polar ice cap has melted. Many experts think that there are billions of barrels of oil to be found in this region. The U.S. National Geological Survey states that there is more oil in the Arctic Sea than in all of Saudi Arabia. And now that the ice caps are receding, some of these resources may become available. This could be construed as a positive development. A previously inaccessible source of hydrocarbons might help to ensure supply and keep prices from rising.

Back in 1997, a Colorado man named Patrick Broe purchased a port in Manitoba, Canada. At the time, it was locked in ice and could not be used. Global warming had little effect on the region back then. But the Port of Churchill suddenly has become a possible home base for polar trade. Mister Broe paid the Canadian government $7.00 for this port. At the time, he was thought of as crazy. As part of the deal, he paid $11 million for an 800 mile railroad that links Churchill to Canada’s grain belt . Now, it would seem that he knew exactly what he was doing. He happens to own Omnitrax, Inc., the largest privately owned short-line railroad company in North America.

The port has since been dredged to accommodate larger ships. There have been negotiations with the Canadian and Russian governments about setting up an “Arctic Bridge”. Thus a trade corridor would be set up between Churchill and Murmansk in Russia. It would also include moving goods right through the middle of North America to Monterrey, Mexico. Churchill also has the necessary tank farms and infrastructure to accept oil imports. As the polar ice melts, it lengthens the shipping season. Ice-breakers and ice-resistant cargo ships can be used to create a 5-7 month shipping season. The fuel-related cost savings in using this route would be significant.

The ultimate link here is that Arctic oil, in addition to Russian oil, could be shipped to the Port of Churchill. Then it could be distributed throughout North America. Farm equipment, grain, and other manufactured goods could be shipped to Russia and Northern Europe. Without global warming, this would not be feasible. Is there a Manitoba pipeline to the U.S. in our future?

The process of natural change has already begun. Instead of bickering and planning for the worst to happen, perhaps government could try to focus on a few positives. There will be disasters along the way, but also some good might yet come from global warming. The need for energy will continue to increase on a worldwide basis. It might be worth looking at the positive side of global warming instead of always focusing on the negatives.

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