90% of what we eat, sit on, touch, drive … almost all our trade goods arrives to us by ship. Now, as the northern ice melts, this massive shipping industry has a new short cut to get from Europe to America to Asia. Many of the 100,000 ships that ply the oceans will be able to navigate the open arctic sea routes, saving time and money. As world trade shifts into the arctic it will give rise to an era of arctic nation building exposing the north to large scale development. More shipping means more pollution. Currently 17 of the largest ships emit more black carbon than all the cars in the world. We have done much to clean up land based emissions, but the sea has little regulation, the Arctic has none. Black carbon, emitted from ships exhaust falls on the Greenland ice sheet as soot, darkening the white snow, speeding up it’s melt as it absorbs heat instead of reflecting it. We all know that as Greenland melts the worlds water levels rise but it’s only recently that we realized that dark snow in Greenland accounts for 40% of its melting. Unlike carbon dioxide, which hangs around for centuries, soot dissipates within weeks. This is where the solution lies. Ships don’t need to burn the dirtiest fuel on the planet. If we want to open the arctic we need a clean fuel revolution. It’s happening slowly, LNG, nuclear fuel ships, and electrification. But, the process to change is not moving quickly enough and is only driven by public pressure, and official regulation. The shipping industry is conservative and un-regulated and we, it’s customers, are blind. It’s time to take the blinkers off and gain a clear eyed look at how we move our stuff and the way it should be done in the next half century across the new arctic sea.