How Climate Change is Making the Internet Faster

There’s at least one good thing about melting ice caps.

NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr

This summer, icebreakers are going to lay the first ever trans-Arctic fiber optic cable, which will be used to carry voice and data communication directly from London to Tokyo, reports Sebastian Anthony at Extreme Tech. This new line will speed up the connection between Europe and Asia by 30 percent, and will reduce the cable distance between those two cities from 15,000 miles to 10,000.

What’s making all this possible is climate change. As the North Pole of our planet becomes increasingly ice-free for ever longer periods of time, shipping routes through the fabled “Northwest Passage” have become commercially viable. The earth is a sphere (sorry if I just blew your mind, Rick Santorum), so now that there’s not a giant ice cube in the way, we can travel — and lay cable — using more direct routes over the top, instead of taking the long way around.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.