Global Warming is creating ‘Environmentally Friendly’ routes. Oh the irony.

Once completely frozen-solid waterways will become passable shipping routes, due to the effects of climate change and the warming of the Earth’s surface temperature.

Ice is melting at a staggering rate in the Arctic Ocean. By 2050, cubic miles of ice-present in the Arctic Ocean will be about half, if not less than half, of what remains today.

Source: NY Times

By year 2040, it has been hypothesized that ordinary shipping vessels will be able to take shortcuts via the Arctic Ocean resulting in economic viability. With the opening of these routes, shipping trips will take less time, resulting in more efficient logistics, more trips, higher profitability on logistics, and open new trade routes.

Source: NY Times

Subsequently, there could be a global reduction on the price for goods due to the speediness of trade routes that were once unimaginable.

This article is in large part inspired by the video below, published by Wendover Productions, titled, Canada’s New Shipping Shortcut.

Source: Wendover Productions

In this video, it was pointed out that there are 8 countries that share borders with the waterways of the Arctic Ocean (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, USA, Canada, Russia, and Denmark through their constituent country, Greenland). These countries are much closer to one another than one might think. Due to the shape of the Earth and the close proximity of the land masses that border the Arctic Ocean, you can actually fly from Tromsø, Norway to Anchorage, Alaska quicker than from Alaska to New York.

Why does this all matter?

Well, if the water ways of the Arctic Ocean are soon rid of enough ice that larger-shipping vessels can pass through it’s waters, than the shipping times of goods can in some cases be cut in half. For example, the 13,000 mile journey (by water) from Japan to mainland Europe would become a 7,000 mile journey (Wendover Productions 2017).

This kind of improved shipping time, by water, would undeniably create an influx in the delivery of goods by way of sea. In turn, world trade would most likely see a decrease in the initial use of road and air logistics. It would completely change the ways that global supply chains and trade between nations function.

This could potentially create environmental benefits, if all the trade were to remain between ports. In comparison to delivery of goods by truck and airplane, shipping ranks the least impactful on the environment as far as CO2 emissions.

But therein lies the catch 22.

Production, delivery and consumption of goods from large supply chains, has been an undeniable contributor to the emissions of GHG (Green House Gas) into our ozone layer. GHG emissions has been one of the key role players in the deterioration of our ozone, and causation of global warming, recently renamed climate change. Whichever way you cut it, whatever name you call it, climate change is the heating of the Earth’s surface temperature. This has caused the, once, very icy Arctic of the North to melt at a staggering rate creating rising sea levels, the destruction of wild life, and an imbalance in the Earth’s makeup.

As the ice melts, transportation increases, the amount of CO2 emissions is raised and the vicious cycle perpetuates.

Big business, and countries, hell-bent on profiting from the delivery routes of the Arctic Ocean, would most likely rebut. Claiming that the more traffic through the Arctic Ocean, the less transportation will be taking place by land and air. And that is true, as stated, “if all trade were to remain between ports”. But that’s just the thing, once goods come into the ports in these cities, due to the new routes of shipping, how will goods make it to their final destination without air and land travel?

The irony thickens as the ice continues to thin.

Source: PIOMAS

Businesses must try and take into account the reactions, environmentally, of their supply chain practices. Staying vigilant and informed is the best way to lessen environmental impact and build strategies, and practices, for sustainability in supply chain logistics.

Unfortunately, sustainability isn’t always profitable, and the waters of the Arctic Ocean will soon be utilized daily, by supply chains globally. But that’s just the thing; climate change isn’t profitable for anyone.

“Every degree of climate warming in the US alone, is expected to cause 144 billion dollars per year of economic loss. If the US climate warms by 12 degrees, which the EPA says is possible by 2100, the US can expect to lose more that 1.7 trillion dollars per year” (Wendover Productions 2017).

But, implementing sustainability strategies and practices, in business, costs money, right?

Oh, the irony.

Until next week.


This publication is brought to you by author Sam Jenks, but also on part by Kodiak Rating — A Supplier Relationship Management SaaS functioning out of Stockholm, Sweden. Kodiak Community intends to challenge traditional business practices with innovative thinking and creation.