Editorial: Walking on thin ice

Canada’s Arctic sovereignty may be threatened

The Canadian government has routinely been criticized for not being aggressive enough in curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Now a University of Victoria report shows Arctic permafrost is thawing and billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, previously unaccounted for, is being released into the atmosphere, helping raise global temperatures. This news comes on the heels of a report from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre which found that the Arctic sea ice cover melted to its lowest since 1979 last month.

What these two things have in common is that they are both caused by global warming – along with natural weather patterns – and both increase global warming.

The warming trend in turn creates strange and devastating weather patterns including tornadoes in Brooklyn, droughts in Texas and flooding everywhere from Pakistan to Montreal. These severe weather events cause billions of dollars in damage, not to mention hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. In 2011, the cost of weather disasters worldwide was an estimated $150 billion.

Scientists are now reporting that severe weather events that usually occur every 50 to 100 years are appearing in shorter cycles. Our warmer atmosphere creates heat waves, more water evaporation from the oceans adds up to heavier rainfall, rising winds occur and atmospheric chaos ensues.

These dramatic weather events are another indication that global warming is real and all levels of government need to take it seriously.

The federal Liberal government that agreed to the Kyoto Protocol to restrict greenhouse gas emissions, lacked the enthusiasm to meet its targets and since the Conservative takeover, the level of apathy has risen to new heights. The Harper government decided it would never meet the targets so why try?

Perhaps the steady erosion of Canada’s Arctic is reason enough.

As the ice and permafrost melt, and the water rises, Canada will no longer have to worry about Arctic sovereignty as there will be no Arctic land mass left to protect.