Nome, Alaska: (End of The) World City

Mayor Richard Beneville has bold plans for Nome, Alaska. He envisions his adopted home becoming a major center for world trade. That may seem a bit far fetched, but remember, the Arctic Ocean is projected to become more navigable over the coming decades. It may become almost entirely safe by 2050. Aircraft can usually travel fairly close to a great circle path. Ships aren’t so lucky, land often gets in the way. The Arctic sea ice gets in the way too, but it will be less in the way in the future.

Here’s some video from Seeker Daily with Beneville explaining his dreams that also addresses some related environmental concerns:

The mayor makes a convincing case with his Shanghai to Hamburg example. It’s a much shorter route past Nome and through the Bering Strait and then through the Arctic than the current route across the Indian Ocean and then through the Suez Canal.

I worry though that the same global warming that makes Nome a possible hub of global trade might destroy Nome itself. I’m used to seeing seawalls, dikes, levees accompanied in many cases by reinforced construction here on the Gulf Coast. Nome looks pretty shabby and unprotected in the video. But they do have high ground nearby. Perhaps they are planning to relocate just a little bit inland as they grow.

Nome could become a World City, but its growth would be made possible by forces that could disrupt the global economy to such an extent that there might not be that many ships going there. Nome could be the last boomtown of an impoverished future.

White Alice type communications station in Alaska

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