Engineers built the Panama Canal to make a viable North American shipping route from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They likely didn’t expect that their descendants would create another one through global warming.
Last week, the cruise ship Crystal Serenity set sail from Anchorage, Alaska, and is expected to cross the fabled Northwest Passage in eight days. This trip shaves almost three years off explorer Roald Amundsen’s first-of-its-kind trek more than a hundred years ago.
While many ships have traversed the passage in the last decade, the Crystal Serenity is the largest ship of its type to do so. This dubious distinction is not lost on the cruise organizers, who have invited “adventurers” onboard, perhaps in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of trepidation that prevailed in Amundsen’s day.
But of course, it’s the radical changes in the atmosphere that, sadly, make such a commercial voyage possible. With the first “ice-free” Arctic summer potentially arriving in the next few years, the sense of adventure will give way to complacency as such trips become run-of-the-mill.
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