The BBC News website is still giving prominence to this story, reporting that the North-west passage is fully clear of ice for the first time 'since records began', and linking the development, not surprisingly, to global warming.
However, as Freeborn John and others have pointed out, the significance of this news rather depends on when records began to be kept; in this case it was 1972. Historical evidence reveals that the passage has been ice-free in the past (possibly due to factors such as the methane emissions of Scott's and Amundsen's husky teams). And it was also ice-free as recently as 2000, according to report by – the BBC!
Apparently the Artic seas were fairly ice free in the 1700s.
Wasn't that in the middle of "the little ice age?" Maybe there's something other than warming involved, such as cyclic weather and current patterns?
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