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How Climate Change Impact On Northern Canada Is Higher Than Rest Of Country

Art of Snow

Words and Photo – Gurdeep Pandher

Climate change is a serious problem with widespread implications and consequences for everyone living on this planet. Although it is commonly characterized as a sharp increase in global temperatures (hence the less scientific name global warming), climate change can also bring an influx of natural disasters such as droughts and hurricanes. However, in addition to the havoc it wreaks on nature, the resulting chain of events have a definite impact of human lives, especially that of those who live in fragile biomes such as the Canadian Arctic, where even a minute discrepancy in temperature can become an ecological catastrophe over a long period of time. In this previously icy environment, climate change has already begun to take its toll.

Frighteningly, the Artic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. In Yukon, the average annual temperature has increased by 2°C over the past fifty years, and its winters have warmed by 4°C in the same time period. Although this may not seem like a lot, it is a drastic change for the biome, and has already resulted in the melting of permafrost, glaciers, and difficulty in forming ice for people and animals to hunt on. The tree line has expanded northwards, and while this provides shelter for a greater variety of animals who can no longer survive in the warming southern regions, it also transforms the ecosystem for species that prefer the tundra and allows invasive species such as the pine beetle to survive through winter.

Additionally, traditional hunting practices are not just for food; they are intrinsic components of the cultural identity of native people in the northern regions. In Nunavut, ice takes as much as four weeks longer to freeze, significantly decreasing the time available for hunting considering the ice is no longer as stable. For some communities, hunting and gathering are their primary methods of obtaining food, considering the climate is still too harsh for farming (and the ground is frozen in most areas, anyways) and shipments of groceries are costly and almost always delayed by storms or the lack of roads. Therefore, there are economic repercussions as well for people in the north.

The most significant loss that may be suffered in addition to the endangerment of native species is the loss of archaeological heritage due to the changing landscape. Indigenous historical artifacts that were preserved in archaeological dig sites in the Northwest Territories are threatened as permafrost melts and the possibility of occurrence for landslides and soil erosion increases. As well, coastal and island communities across the arctic regions are at risk of being flooded or even completely submerged as melting glaciers will increase sea levels by as much as one meter by the end of the century.

Overall, climate change impacts Northern Canada negatively to a greater extent than almost anywhere else in the country. With both environmental and social consequences, it is crucial to halt and reverse this primarily anthropogenic phenomenon. The Canadian government must invest more in renewable technology in order to generate clean energy and reduce carbon emissions, but it is up to people to manage their own levels of consumption so as to not place too much reliance on future developments. In order to combat climate change, it is crucial to make a difference today, and every day.

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The Secret Language of Nature

The Secret Language of Nature

We spend every day running to and fro, so caught up in our hectic lives and mundane habits, we don’t notice anything else. Meanwhile, in complete contrast, nature is changing almost imperceptibly, meandering along so slowly we don’t recognize it has morphed at all until many weeks later when we take a precious second to look up from our work and realize the trees are no longer bare skeletons and the air has lost its bite.

So how does this happen? Are we just so caught up in ourselves we’re oblivious to everything else? Well, not exactly. The main reason why we’re so ignorant of what goes on outside is because of the lack of communication between people and nature. The natural world has its own special language that humans once understood, but through the centuries of technology and advancements, this dialect has been lost along the way. In order to connect yourself with the natural world once again, you must learn its speech.

Unlike the tongues of people, nature does not use syllables or words to speak. It uses the subtlety of the seemingly ordinary to get its point across. What we usually ignore, like the whispering of wind through the treetops, or the faraway howling of a lone wolf is actually nature’s way of calling for attention. Its meaning is usually very difficult to decipher for most, but not all. Have you ever wondered how a farmer can tell if a storm’s coming or how most animals have premonitions of natural disasters? They know these things because they respect the natural world as a sentient being and listen to it.

Another point you must understand is nature does not answer to humans. Like a cranky grandmother, it is not seeking a reply when it communicates. To the natural world, humanity is but a tiny mark in the history of time. It demands respect and attention from us because it is infinitely our elder. It does us no good to reason, barter, or talk back to it, just like it does a newborn no good to argue with you.

The next time you hear nature calling to you through the burble of the river or the tweeting of a bird, stop and tune in to it. It might seem easier to move on quickly and get on with your busy life, but keep in mind that if you preach ignorance, you are missing out on something special and important. If everybody on this planet attended to nature for just five minutes every day, we would have a deeper bond with the natural world than we have now. So the next time nature speaks, stop and take notice. Like your mother always said: listen to your elders and you will learn.