October 19, 2011

Arctic shipping routes: the upside of global warming?


One of my shipspotting buddies saw this article in the New York Times about how warmer ocean temperatures are shrinking the Arctic “ice pack.”

Means shippers are opening more new sea lanes and more routes near shore will be accessible more often during the year:

[C]ompanies in Russia and other countries around the Arctic Ocean are mining that dark cloud’s silver lining by finding new opportunities for commerce and trade.

Not gonna lie, when I heard about this it made my mouth water, and I started polishing my binoculars.  But guess who’s the most excited about this news?  Yup: oil and mining companies.  Even Pootie-Poot, aka Vladimir Putin, thinks it’s a great idea for cutting costs. 

Alaska’s lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, was among those who attended the Russian conference. He noted that about $1 billion worth of goods passed through the Bering Strait last year. “The ships,” he said, “are coming.”

Can’t put anything past that guy.

October 16, 2011

Container ships, we hardly knew ye


Just threw a couple more logs into the wood stove.  Mighty chilly here today.

One of my online pals sent me a link to some pictures by a fellow name of Edward Burtynsky.  He’s a photographer who says his theme is “nature transformed through industry.”

One of the sections on his website is called “Shipbreaking.”  A whole bunch of photos of industrial container ships — or really, their skeletons  — in their final resting places, rusted out on the shore of Bangladesh.  Sort of like a graveyard of hulls.  Sad but majestic too.

"Shipbreaking #4," 2000. Photo by Ed Burtynsky.

They’re hard for me to look at, because I hate to see these great old vessels looking like husks of their former selves.  But Burtynsky explains a little bit about why he does what he does:

We are drawn by desire – a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success.

The people wandering around in the shadow of the ships give me pause.  I love spotting ships.  To see folks scavenging around these “ship graveyards” for spare metal and the like…

These ships bring everything to everybody in the world.

Seems like the distribution’s off, though.

Off to reheat my Sanka.

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