The great navigators of the Age of Explorers were a bit early in their quest to traverse the famed Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. What a difference 500 years makes. What a difference global warming makes.
For perhaps the first time in recorded human history, arctic ice around the North Pole has melted clearing not only a Northwest Passage but also a Northeast Passage.
The North-West Passage (circled left) and the North-East Passage (top right) are both clear of ice now, as shown in satellite photos.
It is an historic event.
But is the world without a North Pole a good thing? Shipping companies and ExxonMobil may love the idea. Climate change scientists are wary.
Polar bears are less enthusiastic, some now facing a 400-mile swim for survival.
And for the rest of us? Is this really such good news?