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A harbinger of things to come

By Mario Pelletier      

The opening of planet Earth’s final frontier to increased vessel traffic for trade, tourism and transferring resources to market seems an inevitable consequence of the melting Arctic ice. While the assault mounted by climate change on the Arctic environment is unprecedented well beyond the human timescale, there is widespread concern that it will unleash an additional burden into the fragile Arctic ecosystem in the form of accidentally discharged pollutants and disrupt sensitive marine habitat, all with profound implications for the well-being of people who live there.

It is true, the Canadian Coast Guard has six tremendous ice-breakers, from the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent which will embark on its fourth mission to the North Pole in July, to the iconic CCGS Amundsen, the science research vessel that occupies a place of distinction on Canada’s $50 bill. Photograph courtesy of the Canadian Coast Guard

The upcoming voyage of the Crystal Serenity through Canada’s Northwest Passage is commanding considerable public attention. Understandably. It may not be the first cruise ship to make the journey, but with a passenger list numbering more than 1,000 and a crew of at least 600, it will be by far the largest.

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