SNAME's role in the melting Artic

By Clifford Goudey posted 09-15-2016 08:15 AM


In today's (9/15/16) Weekly Member Communication there was a piece titled "Take the Short Way Home" that discussed reduced ice coverage in the Arctic that allows more frequent ship passages through the Northwest and Northeast Passages.  I was troubled by the following statement:

"SNAME members contributed greatly over the years to the efforts that led to this route beginning to become more viable."

I suppose this is true in many ways based on the myriad of work members have done to facilitate the growth of the oil and gas industry.  It is my opinion and hope that the loss of ice in the Arctic has been an unintended consequence that, in retrospect, is viewed as very unfortunate.  The warming process, driven by the build up of greenhouse gasses from the burning of fossil fuels, has raised the average global temperature of both the atmosphere and the oceans with now unavoidable and devastating consequences.  This is an outcome I want no part of and, as a SNAME member, no credit for exacerbating, unintended or otherwise. 

Civilization is only beginning to understand the magnitude of the problem and still, there are those who refuse to accept the reality portrayed by so many data sources.  There may indeed be "climate deniers" among us and for them I offer the easy-to-understand and impossible-to-refute graphic found at - A Timeline of the Earth's Average Temperature Since the Last Ice Age Glaciation.

There is nothing to celebrate in this outcome.  Indeed, the measures that will be needed to cope with these changes will change the field of Naval Architecture forever.  On a positive note, there are great opportunities to drive the growth of ocean-based renewable energy technologies.  On a more negative note, there will be lots of work to be done as $Trillions worth of coastal infrastructure becomes inundated and require rebuilding or relocation.  Shipping itself will take on a new face as the need for low and zero-carbon operations become the norm.

As a professional society of experts whose work relates directly to energy and climate, I'd like to see us cease ignoring climate issues.  Much of what we do alters the trajectory of carbon emissions and we need to directly confront the unacceptable outcome of a business-as-usual path and become part of the solution.

1 comment



10-04-2016 07:15 AM

Eighteen days, 68 views, and not one comment in agreement or in disagreement.  What a sad commentary on the awareness of SNAME members on the greatest challenge of our time.  Is there any other way to see it?