As Ms. Stephen says, there are 8 reasons why Arctic trading, and consequently shipping, will be limited in the future:
- Arctic routes are not always shorter: For connecting northern Europe and East Asia the Arctic makes sense, but for example to trade goods from or to south-Asia, South America, Africa or the Middle East, the Arctic is not shorter.
- Seasonality: Ice melting is occurring in the Arctic, as the routes are still seasonal. This means that they open in spring and freeze again in autumn.
- Unreliability: Bad weather and floating ice can make it very hard for seafarers to stick to tight timetables that the container ships must meet.
- Warmer weather might lead to worse weather conditions: Warm weather forms loose ice in form of ice floes and icebergs, which can be more dangerous for ships than thin but fast ice.
- "Ice-free" still means ice: Icebergs can always be around.
- Shallow water: Big heavy ships can go through, since they would run aground.
- Extension of Panama Canal: The new Panama Canal doubled the cargo capacity of the waterway and made it possible for even larger ships, which cannot pass through the Arctic.
- Mainly Arctic resources: People living on the Arctic do not benefit from ships just passing by.
A limited Arctic trading however can be good, mainly for two reasons:
- Environmental impact: The Arctic environment is fragile. Oil spills and air pollution from ships can damage it.
- Climate change: Using the Arctic will make it harder to comply with stricter environmental regulations.