Possibilities in the Arctic

3D rendering of an oil platform in the Arctic.
The Northwest Passage marked by a red line.
Icebreaker plowing through sheets of Arctic ice.

Because most waterways in the Canadian Arctic are covered with ice, few people travel by boat here. However, with ice caps receding in a warming climate, the Arctic is expected to become more easily navigable in the near future.

The Northwest Passage

If the Arctic becomes easily navigable, the Northwest Passage, a shortcut between the northern Pacific Ocean and the northern Atlantic Ocean, would open up. By sailing this route, it has been anticipated, cargo ships travelling from eastern North America to East Asia would save both time and money for fuel. This, as a consequence, could potentially lower both emissions and consumer prices for the transported goods.

Oil drilling and tourism

In addition to shorter transportation distances, retreating ice would make Arctic oil drilling, industrial fishing and tourism easier. With such prospects, many industries are hopeful about expanding their operations to the Canadian north, and governments, on their part, look positively at the potential revenues and job opportunities Arctic business ventures could bring. However, as explained in another chapter, increasing activities in the Arctic raises environmental, cultural and legal concerns.