Is Climate Change Currently a Benefit to Some Countries and Businesses?

Is Climate Change Currently a Benefit to Some Countries and Businesses?

There are winners and losers but more losers than winners.

Back in 2014 Iceland’s Prime Minister said that climate change would be good for Iceland, melted ice caps would, he said,  increase food production and export opportunities for his arctic island. Laurence C. Smith, a geologist at UCLA has argued in The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future that the Nordic countries will benefit from rising sea levels and melting glaciers as mineral and oil deposits become available for exploitation. He is optimistic about what can be achieved if we exploit the opportunities that “frontier” regions like the Northern Rim of Scandinavia, Iceland, Russia, Canada and the USA offer. If you think this is fanciful consider the militarisation of the Arctic in recent years.

Until the end of the last century the Arctic Ocean was thought to be international territory, but nations are now staking sovereignty claims as the region becomes accessible. The Northwest Passage linking the northern Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean was first discovered in 1850 by Robert McClure and first navigated by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen 1903–1906. It was not until 2009 that reductions in the pack ice, as a result of climate change, has made the passage navigable in the summer months.

crystal cruises

This has created a tourism opportunity – in August this year the cruise ship Crystal Serenity will in 32 days twice traverse the Northwest Passage from Anchorage to New York and back. Tourists aboard a traditional cruise ship, Crystal Cruises describe it as “the ultimate expedition for the true explorer!”. An opportunity to experience “vast landscapes of towering fjords, magnificent glaciers and rare wildlife sightings as you learn the Arctic culture and its fascinating people.”

As Michael Byers from the University of British Colombia has pointed out:

“There is something terribly ironic about taking advantage of climate change to see an ecosystem that is undergoing destruction…. The ship can only go because of climate change. As sea ice disappears so will the ecosystem based around it. This is extinction tourism. They are going to see animals before they disappear.” (Quoted in The Times 18 June 2016)

This cruise voyage is further proof that our climate is changing.

Meanwhile, the Australia Institute has reported that the severe coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is reducing interest amongst international tourists in travelling to Australia. Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science has reported that the entire Great Barrier Reef was likely to be dead in 20 years. The Australia Institute estimates that the loss of overseas tourists could cost the industry a $1 billion a year.

Join us at WTM in November for panels on climate change and resilience.

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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracts 2000 participants each year and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Latin America. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

One comment

  1. Avatar Geoffrey Lipman says:

    Harold I like your article as usual but would at first blush question research on customer inclinations to travel to Australia are reduced etc etc. It’s like all the surveys that show people will pay more for green holidays …questionable. I wonder how many indian, indonesian and chinese potential travelers were included. I fear the massive cruise ships as a potential floating envoronmental disaster.

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