Going East by Going West

Ever since mankind discovered that the Earth is round, daring souls have attempted to get to the east by going west and vice versa. Columbus was one of them. When in 1492, he sailed the ocean blue, he was looking for a western route to India. There was a lively trade between Europe and India, especially in luxury items like silks and spices. If Columbus could find a western route to India by water, he would have revolutionized the trade between Europe and the East.

When in his bumping into the landmass of the Western hemisphere, he apparently must have thought that he had reached India. Indeed, he called the natives Indians. He did and we still continue to do so.

In the centuries between 1492 and 2007, there have been repeated attempts by daring souls to find a northwest passage to Asia. The chief obstacle has been icebergs and floating chunks of icebergs that have wrecked the crafts of many an adventurous sailor.

But things have been changing, thanks to — of all things — global warming. The icebergs and the chips of floating ice are melting in the rising heat. History was made this summer by Roger Swanson, an Englishman who started out from northern Canada and then into Alaska and — surprise — within spitting distance of Russia.

Yes. The earth is shrinking. And soon, everybody on the face of the Earth will be our next-door neighbor.

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