This situation is unlike anything observed in previous record low ice seasons. It is highly imaginable that a ship could have passed from Spitzbergen or Northern Siberia through what is normally pack ice to reach the North Pole without difficulty.
If this anomaly trend continues, the North-East Passage or ‘Northern Sea Route’ between Europe and Asia will be open over longer intervals of time, and it is conceivable we might see attempts at sailing around the world directly across the summer Arctic Ocean within the next 10-20 years.
Not entirely uncoincidentally, the October Scientific American has an article that looks at how mass extinctions in the past might have happened. While it's commonly accepted that an asteroid or comet impact killed the dinosaurs, the details for earlier mass extinctions are fuzzier. The gist of this article is that, once atmospheric carbon dioxide reaches around 1000 ppm or so, anaerobic bacteria in the oceans begin bubbling up large quantities of hydrogen sulfide gas, killing things both in the ocean and on land. The models predict that the situation eventually stabilizes and returns to normal after a few hundred thousand or million years. If current carbon dioxide growth rates continue without change, we should hit the 1000 ppm number some time around the year 2200.