The latest report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the ice cap is warming faster than the rest of the planet and ice is receding, partly due to greenhouse gases. It's a catastrophic scenario for the Arctic ecosystem, for polar bears and other wildlife, and for Inuit populations whose ancient cultures depend on frozen waters.
Now here are a few things I don’t understand. The Arctic is so cold that few things can live there. Why is it a “catastrophe” if it warms up, perhaps enough that more things can? Is rain in a desert a catastrophe?
A catastrophe for polar bears specifically? Why? Surveys show their numbers have been exploding in recent years. In the Davis Strait area, the bear population has grown from 850 in the 1980s to 2,100 today. It does seem a little premature to call this a “catastrophe.” Is the problem a lack of school places, or what?
A catastrophe for Inuit populations whose ancient cultures depend on frozen waters? To begin with, archeologically speaking, Inuit culture seems to be about 600 years old. Which does not seem to me to qualify as “ancient,” except perhaps in French.
Which might explain it—ancient in the French sense of “former.” Because there is of course, rather little left of the “traditional” culture of the Inuit, the culture as it was before the arrival of food, clothing, housing, vehicles, and government money from the south. Not many Inuit are likely fool enough to stay with the old traditional food, clothing, or housing today. It is hard to imagine that now warmer temperatures would be the one thing that might tip the balance into “catastrophe.” In any case, with all due respect, any culture that cannot handle such environmental change, that literally “depends on frozen waters,” probably should not survive, for the sake of those who might otherwise be shackled by it.
So, darn the luck, if Al Gore and David Suzuki are right, Canada’s Arctic is likely to melt to the extent that it will cut 60% off the sea distance between Asia and Europe. God forbid we might have the catastrophe of another prosperous Singapore developing in our northern archipelago. Not to mention the extension of agriculture and forestry northwards. Can Canadian culture itself survive?
Not if the congenital foolishness of the CBC is considered part of it, I suppose.