Temperatures in the European Arctic have soared above 32C this past week:
Immediate benefits: Russians can go swimming and sunning in the Baltics or even the White Sea. A couple more degrees, and it might become competitive with southern resorts during summer.
Climate Reanalyzer: Temperature anomalies on August 1, 2018.
In 2010, the Baltica became the first high-tonnage tanker to sail with petroleum products by the Northern Sea Route, steaming from Murmansk to China. In 2017, almost 10 million tons of goods were shipped across the Northern Sea Route. This only represents about 1% of the traffic through the Suez Canal (and 0.1% of total global shipping), but it did come out of nowhere, and is projected to increase to at least 70 million tons by 2030.
In reality, I think the increase will be even steeper, because the loss of Arctic sea ice is proceeding far faster than even the most “pessimistic” climate models projected. The IPCC forecast ice-free Arctic summers in the late 21st century under a high emissions scenario, but linear projections of the past decade’s trends suggest that could be achieved as early as 2020. The Northern Sea Route is 35% shorter than the southern route, you don’t have to pay a toll at Suez, nor brave pirates off the Somali coast. It will be ultra-competitive once the ice is gone. Even non-summer shipping will be increasingly viable thanks to Russia’s growing nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet.
This is just the start. As the century progresses there will hopefully be intensive agricultural development, demographic settling, exploitation of the methane reserves in the permafrost and oceanic floor clathrates. This will hopefully accelerate warming further in a virtuous cycle. More warming means more carbon dioxide, more crops due to the carbonization effect, higher humidity leading to more rain (historically, it was colder periods of the Earth’s history that were associated with droughts/civilization collapses).