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Current Event Review Geo 605

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Current Event Review – Climate Change in the North

Summary of Event and Background
Canadian North is the forefront of the climate change and its effect can be seen very evidently on the daily basis. Warmer temperatures have led to changes in shifting tree line, major impact on several species especially caribou population; other wildlife species foreign to this area moving further north from the south like cougar and whitetail deer. North is also facing problems with territory’s winter road network for example due to the reduced thickness of ice roads, Diavik Diamond Mine in Northern Canada were forced to fly in fuel rather than try to transporting it – costed extra $11.25 million. Melting of permafrost is another concern as it’s affecting the buildings and housing, leading to changes in building techniques. It also causes methane to release which is another greenhouse gas that adds to the mix of warming agents heating our planet. Climate change is also effecting water world as certain fish species are disappearing. Even though, it is very small contributor to CO2 emission, the territory is dependent on international and national actions to and is at mercy from outside to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to briefing document prepared for Prime Minister Trudeau, it states that average temperature has increased 1.6 degree Celsius which is almost twice as much since 1948. If we look at Canadian North, the temperature has risen by about 3 times the global average – by about 2.2 degree Celsius. Politicians of the North are really concerned with all these issues, Bob McLeod the Premier of the Northwest Territories is looking forward to the upcoming discussion with the federal government as it planned to discuss national climate change strategy. As the new Liberal government indicated that it’s going to take much more active and effective leadership role working with the Northern provinces and territories.
Critical Thought
Whenever we stumble upon this issue of climate change and our north, one question pops up in our mind; is the climate change a northern catastrophe or an Artic opening? The vital factor that we all are aware off and it is evidently witness is melting of the polar ice cap. When we ponder upon this issue, we get list of unanswered questions including how will this change effect lives, economies and security realities of the North? Will the opening of the Northwest Passage create major new economic and security challenges? Were there will be a resource boom, and if so who benefits? How about the lives of northern people such as intuits, will they be disrupted or cause changes in their traditional ways due to climate change, or they benefit from autonomy and development that may flow in because of ownership of natural resources? The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed warning signals due to dramatic changes taking places in the global climate environment, but there are parts of Canada that do benefit from warmer climate. Even in the Canadian North, warmer climate may be beneficial for food production and other industries that can benefit from northward expansion such as maple syrup developers. "Total biomass of production from wild, capture fisheries in Canada [are] expected to increase due to climate-induced shifts in fish distributions," the report states. Melting sea ice and permafrost may offer new opportunities for extraction of oil and gas and various mineral resources. Opening of the Northwest Passage does create new economic and security challenges as this will result in increased destination for cargo ships and tankers moving in and out of the Artic. A narrative has developed over few years that Canada should not get too excited due to increasing numbers of ships traffic on the Russian side. Many researched say that NWP’s physical and climatic differences will make Northern Sea Route above Russia more preferable. Supporter of this view have also concluded that our route will always be too dangerous and expensive. On opposing side, we have people such as Prof. Rob Huebert of University of Calgary that believe this view to be wrong stating the fact that companies owning Nordic Orion planned around 10 voyages for last year proving that it can be done on economic basis. On the resource front, we could definitely benefit from climate change as it is increasing the accessibility to oil and gas and other resources in the North but we have not paid close attention to the many political and technological revolution that are now shaping the demand for energy. For instance, United States is predicted to be self-sufficient in oil by 2020 which means that US will be less dependent on Saudi Arabia. What then does this means to companies who are thinking to develop the Canadian North? Therefore, issue of oil and gas development is not merely about climate change, it also encompasses other geopolitical processes that are nearly impossible to predict. According to researchers such as Shelagh Grant of Trent University, an economy based on extraction of non-renewable resources is not sustainable over the long term. Large corporations, there suppliers of material goods and services, industrial architects, engineers, along with government revenues from taxes and royalties are most beneficiaries of this approach. If its Canadian corporation then we can assume the benefit will be retained in Canada but if it’s foreign owned then we will be losing control over our Northern resources along with the benefit it has to offer. Although some local people and business may benefit from it in terms of decreasing unemployment and new products in the market, secondary refining or manufacturing may still be transported to South as it’s cheaper to do it there. With these exceptional changes occurring in the North due to actions taken by different nations across the world, the people who suffer the immediate consequence and paying the price of the mistakes they did not commit are the Northern communities. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-north/is-climate-change-a-northern-catastrophe-or-an-arctic-opening/article16480890/?page=all
Additional Literature http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/climate-change-economy-1.3282446 http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/technology/quirks-quarks-blog/2014/03/climate-change-report-the-good-and-bad-news-for-canada-1.html http://scaa.usask.ca/gallery/northern/content?pg=ex08-2 --------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/canada-struggles-with-melting-permafrost-as-climate-warms/
[ 2 ]. http://www.metronews.ca/news/canada/2016/01/13/northwest-territories-bears-daily-witness-to-impact-of-climate-change-mcleod.html
[ 3 ]. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/stories/1059993256/…...

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