Arctic Passage

During the Medieval Warm Period, when the earth was hotter than it is today, there was virtually no ice in the Arctic In 1421 a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic and reported no ice, and it is well recorded that Greenland was settled and farmed. Later, when Elizabethan England entered into the “Age of Discovery”, her seamen had an absolute conviction that sea routes to China existed by the Northeast and Northwest passages. The English explorers and their investors who pursued these routes risked considerable capital and the lives of many friends and colleagues — sometimes their own. In the face of repeated setback, failure and calamity, they persisted. These people were not irrational nor were they incompetent. They persisted because they knew such passages existed because they had information that was both credible and verifiable. They knew that between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored a series of naval expeditions led by the one of the greatest seamen in history, Zheng He. The Chinese admiral sailed through the Arctic and left details of the navigation of his voyage in the maps known as the Mao Kun. By the time the English sailors were trying to reopen the routes, the climate has changed – as it will again in our time. But our generation is by no means the first to use these passages commercially.


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