According to CBC, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report spreads another warning of dramatic climate change taking place in the global environment; however, this apparently would be good for parts of Canada. The Arctic region has been warming faster than the rest of the planet, bringing about drastic change environmentally but that change opens up the North to commerce. The report, which will be officially released on Sunday evening, was prepared by scientists from 100 countries who gathered in Japan this week. The report explains the consequences of this unprecedented rate of change in the climate here on Earth and its implications for society.
For Canada the warming is a mixed blessing. The climate change in the Arctic is opening it up to commerce, which is good for business. The ice has been disappearing in the Arctic Ocean at record rates since the 70s and by the middle of this century; the zone will be ice-free for 125 days in a year. That open water provides a great shortcut between Europe and Asia for shipping, access to the oil resources and open doors for ecotourism and means there will be more jobs.
Even though climate change is good for parts of Canada, the activities that occur in the open passage will accelerate the warming climate. The smoke from the shipping will settle on the snow and make it darker. The oil and gas extraction means more greenhouse gas emissions will be sent back into the air. The loss of ice will change the color of the earth and add to global warming due to less land which absorbs sunlight rather than reflecting it. Finally, the melting permafrost will release methane gas which adds to the other greenhouse gases heating the planet. All of these effects will add to the warming trend and effect everything that lives in the Arctic, including people. The cycle will be hard to break, as long as the economic gains entice.
According to The Daily Mail, the tourism increase in the Arctic will likely also be due to an increase in whale-watching trips to the area. The draft report – apparently dubbed “alarmist” by one British author – claims climate change could aid the killer and grey whale populations in the area. This report may be thought of as alarmist in the author’s opinion but the statement does caution that significant change is on the horizon and that the government needs to be aware of this. It is not surprising that economic gains take precedent over the environment. In BC, the oil and gas pipeline construction is taking precedence over the preservation of BC’s pristine coastline. An oil spill could devastate the area, eliminate or significantly reduce salmon stalks and cause significant damage to the economy as well.
This climate change is as good for parts Canada but it is best to see the preservation of the economy and the environment as dependent on each other. Canada is needs its natural resources and if one or all of them is destroyed, the economy would take a nose dive. In short, it would be beneficial for Canadian leaders to find a compromise between the environmentalists and those that want the economy to boom.
Opinion by Nicole Drawc