NASA released a report on Monday with some grim news if you live in a coastal region.
A huge glacier in Antarctica’s western ice sheet is melting “past the point of no return” thanks to warmer water and ocean currents.
This isn’t some tiny scrap of barren land. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet makes up one-tenth of Antarctica’s land ice volume – over half a million cubic miles of ice. Moreover, the melting will add to the calculated sea level rise in the coming century.
So how high are we talking?
Sea levels, which were predicted to rise 1 to 3 feet, could now rise as much as 4 feet, effectively putting many coastal areas like Florida and Pacific Islands nations in jeopardy.
Still, there is one large, influential group cheering on the unstoppable melting of this glacier.
Let’s fact it, Big Oil is salivating over the idea of these glaciers melting. As the ice recedes, more uncharted territory is uncovered… in an area estimated to hold more than 20% of the world’s oil and gas reserves.
Companies like Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron could all start jockeying for position in a new oil region as it opens for exploration.
If you recall, something similar happened in Greenland a few years ago as their melting ice revealed a bounty of rare earth metals with a host of valuable applications.
It also revealed proved just how far companies are willing to go to stake their claim in previously uncharted territory. Last year, companies spent more than $100 million on mineral exploration on land, and over $1 billion exploring offshore.
So far, however, there hasn’t been much exploration for Arctic oil, which means there is a huge window of opportunity for everyone.
China, for example, has been vying for a position in the U.N.’s Arctic Council in order to get a toe-hold in the valuable soon to be open territory in the Arctic.
And a few years ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Lee Myung-bak then President of South Korea made their debut visits to the Arctic.
The bottom line, of course, is that we’re still potentially decades away from tapping into this newly uncovered land. Still, don’t be surprised to see more companies making their next moves in Greenland and the Arctic.
Until next time,