We all started using the term “climate change” when people started using “global warming” to evoke visions of a summery paradise on earth thanks to warming temperatures. I mean, nobody likes the cold, right? If we hadn’t just had a week-long heatwave, I’d be a little more sympathetic.

Some of the rosy predictions, though, Apparently the long-sought-after Northwest Passage has finally opened up for shipping. Arctic ice is retreating, and 2010 is being called the “Landmark Year” in Arctic shipping. This could open up a lot of opportunities for Europe/Asian shipping, which of course will drive more trade, production and industry – meaning even less ice in the long run.

This is a sign, folks. Runaway global warming is a serious threat – we have no idea how long we have before climate change itself causes enough warming to keep itself going. And while that’s a threat with things like disappearing sea ice (dark oceans absorb more heat) and dying forests (rotting trees give off greenhouse gasses), it’s also an issue if warming opens up economic opportunities which drive climate change, like shipping, farming or massive northern settlement. Which is not to say that any of these things need to drive climate change, just that in their current forms, they do. And when our entire world is at risk, we need to stop fantasizing about some magical technological revolution which will make them all “carbon-neutral”.

A revolution like that is coming, but not from above. It will involve the wholesale rejection of entire industries and modes of production (like those which ship things here from Asia). Industry-leading corporations will be demolished, and I suspect more than a few governments will fall as well. If we’re going to factor massive fuel and emission savings because of technologies into our response to Climate Change, then we’re going to have to work to make that happen. Governments and corporations are not going to do it for us.

The real question here where is all that ice going? And the answer is clear – sea levels.