Archive for September, 2018


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The Venta Maersk in South Korea

A cargo ship named the Venta Maersk is making history this week as it takes its maiden voyage and becomes the first container ship to bring a load of goods (in this case fish from Russia and electronics from South Korea) from Vladivostok, past the northern coast of Russia in the Arctic Ocean, and in to port in Norway. The ship began its voyage on the 23rd of August, 2018, and is on schedule to pass through the Bering Straight around the 1st of September 2018. A few other commercial vessels have made this trip, but the Venta Maersk will be the first container ship. 

To make the voyage, the Venta Maersk, an ice-class vessel, has been specifically designed to withstand collisions with ice, and it can use specific fuel mixtures to allow it to run more efficiently at temperatures down to -25 degrees fahrenheit.

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The Northern Sea Route

The Northern Sea Route is the name that has been given to the passage that runs from the Bering Straight, over the north coast of Russia, and then to Europe. It is a water route that has been historically impassable due to the fact that the Arctic Ocean used to be completely frozen almost all year long. Now, however, the situation is changing. Over the last couple of decades, human induced climate change has been causing the sea ice to melt more and more. Now the north coast of Russia is ice-free for at least three or four months of the year, and this amount of time is expanding.

The distance from Russia to Europe via the Northern Sea Route is shorter than the current shortest route which is passage through the Suez Canal. More and more international shipping companies are setting plans in motion to use this new shipping route in the future. The Venta Maersk voyage will be a useful test run to see how practically and economically feasible the route is now. Russia intends to charge a passage fee for ships using the Northern Sea Route, so they are hoping it proves feasible, and both Russia and China have plans to develop infrastructure such as roads, towns, ports, etc. to take advantage of the opening of this northern transportation route.

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The Venta Maersk departing from Vladivostok on 8/23/2018.

The fact that companies and nations are taking actions to position themselves so that they are competitive in this new northern arena is additional, and dramatic, evidence that global climate is changing, and that one of these changes is a melting the polar icecaps that climate scientists have been predicting for at least the last three decades. It seems like it is getting more and more difficult to take the stance that global climate change is not happening.

The community of researchers who are studying climate change is pretty huge, and growing. These scientists have been developing more and more accurate hypotheses about the global climate of earth for decades. And the predictions from these hypotheses have been coming true over and over again. Given the hypotheses, their predictions, and then how closely those predictions have matched with reality, it seem reasonable that that the current hypotheses about what will happen in the future should be taken pretty seriously. I certainly hope they will be.




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