A benefit of global warmingThe Northeast Passage linking Ulsan port in Korea with Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands via the Arctic Ocean is finally a reality.
There are reports that two cargo vessels that departed in July from Germany are about to enter Rotterdam Port via the route. Such a journey is now possible because the ice in the Arctic Ocean has melted, enabling vessels to operate along the passage.
The Northeast Passage is the shortest link between Europe and Asia and comes two years after the Northwest Passage to Canada opened.
The Northeast Passage has shortened the route by one-third compared with the existing Indian Ocean route, which passes through the Suez Canal. Korea and China are expected to be the biggest beneficiaries of the new passage - an ironic outcome of global warming.
It has been a long time since countries physically fought over land surrounding the North Pole. Countries, however, have still been waging battles over land in the area - though without bullets - to exploit its natural resources. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 8 billion tons of oil reserves have been found in the northern part of the Barents Sea on the Svalbard Archipelago, and layers of natural gas reserves have been exposed.
Statoil ASA of Norway has invested $1 billion and ConocoPhillips of the United States and Gazprom of Russia have each invested $500 million to develop the resources.
Competition over territories that have not yet been claimed is intense, as countries are aiming to beat out other nations to grab hold of fuel reserves. Russia has declared sovereignty over some of this land, while Canada has executed a massive military exercise in the Arctic Circle.
Of course global warming is a miserable event that the entire globe should work together to ease. In addition, countries around the world should prevent the destruction of the natural environment in the North Pole region. They should also work to prevent the North Pole from becoming a cause for squabbles over natural resources. In this respect, the agreement made by the International Arctic Science Committee in 1990 - focusing on peaceful research in the region - should be respected.
However, the unexpected side effects of global warming should be taken advantage of when possible. The Northeast Passage can shorten the transportation period and lower carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is now in the middle of creating a world seed bank that will preserve 3 million kinds of seeds.
Korea should actively look to take part in such activities.