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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘arctic canada

[LINK] “Weather anomaly puts North Pole temperatures at 4 C this week”

The report by CBC’s Katherine Barton about the ridiculous heat wave on the North Pole deserves wider sharing.

A weather anomaly sweeping across the world will cause temperatures at the North Pole to reach nearly 4 C this week.

Texas, Australia and England are just a few of the regions that have seen a spate of extreme weather this month, including tornadoes, brush fires and flooding. Now, forecasters say the North Pole will see temperatures well above normal.

CBC North’s resident meteorologist, Ashley Brauweiler, says the severe weather system that wreaked havoc in the U.S. and beyond is the reason.

“We have temperatures above zero near the poles and that’s because the jet stream is bringing that warm air from the South up and along Greenland and Iceland and that’s what causing those strong storms,” Brauweiler says.

“They’re seeing the same storms that were affecting the southern states.”

At the North Pole on Thursday, temperatures are expected to hit 3 C. On New Year’s Day it will be nearly 4 C.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 12:21 pm

[LINK] “Santa’s Home Is Melting. Will We Ever Bring It Back?”

National Geographic‘s Tim Folger considers whether geoengineering could bring the Arctic icecap back.

Vast and white, easily visible from space, Earth’s Arctic ice cap seems such a permanent fixture—a frozen country at the top of the world—that the idea that it could ever vanish almost defies comprehension. But by the middle of the century most of it will in fact vanish, thanks to our burning of fossil fuels. The North Pole and most of the ocean around it will be free of sea ice in summer for the first time in thousands of years.

Will we ever bring the ice back?

That’s the question a team of researchers from Columbia University pondered in a presentation last week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. It’s not as academic as it sounds. Most climate models suggest that our efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions—starting with the steps agreed to in Paris on December 12—will not be enough to keep Earth from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius. To prevent even worse impacts than the loss of Arctic ice, by late in this century we’ll have to not only shut down emissions, but find a way to clean up massive amounts of carbon dioxide that we’ve already put in the atmosphere.

That technology, once developed, would give us the ability to cool the planet—which would put the future of the Arctic in play again. “The basic message,” says oceanographer Stephanie Pfirman of Columbia, “is that we will be able to bring the ice back as long as we bring the [planet’s] temperature down.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 26, 2015 at 4:48 pm

[LINK] “Greenland May Seek UN Climate Deal Opt-Out Amid Emissions Goal”

Bloomberg’s Peter Levring explains what I think is Greenland’s perfectly justifiable exemption from the global climate deal. The major issue is that other Arctic areas lacking comparable near-independent states–Russia, the United States, and Canada come to mind–can’t claim this.

The ink hasn’t yet dried on the UN climate accord and one of the territories most at risk from global warning is already demanding an opt-out.

“We still have the option of making a territorial opt-out to COP21,” Kim Kielsen, the prime minister of Greenland, said during a visit to Copenhagen on Monday. “We have an emissions quota of 650,000 tonnes of CO2, which is the same as a single coal-fired power plant in Denmark, or a minor Danish city.”

Kielsen oversees a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. With a size roughly that of Mexico and a population that’s smaller than the Cayman Islands’, Greenland is the least densely populated country in the world. More than 22,000 people live in the capital Nuuk, while the remaining 34,000 are dispersed over an area of 2.2 million square kilometers.

As a result, the most common way for locals to traverse its icy expanses is via highly polluting planes.

“We want to solve that issue as we have considerably larger geographical distances to cover,” Kielsen said after a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and their colleague from the Faroe Islands, another autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm

[LINK] “Iqaluit family in tent 1 of 170 on wait list for social housing in city”

John Van Dusen’s CBC report reveals something shameful. That the housing shortages in Nunavut are this severe is terrible, especially since the population is so young and rapidly-growing.

The father of a family of six living in a tent in Iqaluit says despite working a full-time job, he cannot afford a place to live in Nunavut’s capital.

Norman Roger Laisa and his family have spent the last three months living in a tent near downtown Iqaluit, heated by a propane tank.

“Barely slept last night just to make sure the tent is all up so my kids won’t get cold,” Laisa said Wednesday after temperatures dropped and the overnight windchill dipped below -30 C.

“Once in a while, I’ll turn on the Coleman stove, even though we got a heater. But sometimes, it’s not really warm. We got to put more blankets over our kids to keep them warm. But we managed to go through a night again.”

Laisa and his family are on the Iqaluit Housing Authority’s wait list for a three-bedroom unit.

The family is one of 170 households waiting for public housing in Iqaluit.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 30, 2015 at 8:37 pm

[LINK] Joe O’Connor in the National Post on the Nunavut suicide epidemic

Joe O’Connor’s heartbreaking National Post article looks at a terrible Canadian social ill.

Rex Uttak liked to laugh, especially when his aunt, Mary Ann Uttak, got him going, as she loved to do, because he could get her right back by cracking a joke or doing something silly. Then they would both start laughing until their eyes watered, and they would try to choke back their giggles until the next joke flew.

That was Rex, says his aunt, an 11-year-old boy full of laughter and light. Mary Ann remembers coming home on August 10, 2013 and seeing her nephew and one of his cousin’s asleep on a living room couch. She touched his cheek and whispered goodnight. By the next morning Rex was dead. The little boy who liked to laugh had hanged himself.

Rex Uttak was one of 45 Nunavut Inuit to take their own life in 2013, a cascade of tragedies that triggered a special coroner’s inquest into the high rate of suicide in the North that convened in Iqaluit on Sept. 14 and concludes Friday.

Since 1999, 479 Inuit have killed themselves in the territory — by hanging, gun, overdose and stabbing — out of a population of about 28,000. To put the numbers in perspective: an Inuit age 15 years and older is 9.8 times more likely to commit suicide than a Canadian living in the south, while the suicide rate among Inuit children, aged 11-14, is about 50 times the national average. Of the 45 suicides in 2013, 12 were women and 33 were men, mostly between the ages of 15-25.

Rex Uttak was the youngest. The oldest was 72.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2015 at 7:36 pm

[LINK] “Nunavut communities struggle with junked vehicles”

CBC News’ Kieran Oudshoom reports on a serious problem in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital.

It’s that time of year — back to school for students and back to work for adults returning from vacation — and the renewed “rush minute” means the streets in larger Northern communities are packed with vehicles during peak hours.

Making matters worse, hundreds of new cars and trucks arrive in Nunavut by sealift every year with no means of removing the derelict vehicles they’re replacing, and that’s a big problem for communities such as Iqaluit.

Iqaluit Coun. Terry Dobbin says there are nearly 6,000 vehicles in the territory’s capital, but only 30 kilometres of road. He says that’s a huge number given the city’s population, estimated at just above 8,000.

Dealing with old vehicles shouldn’t just be the responsibility of the city, Dobbin says.

“If there was a small import levy that you could place on those vehicles when they were brought into the city, that way a system would be in place — a fund would be in place and available — when it’s time to ship these vehicles back south.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 1, 2015 at 1:25 am

[LINK] “Nunavut’s social housing faces billion-dollar shortfall”

CBC’s John Van Dusen reports on the appalling housing shortfalls in Nunavut.

More than 3,000 households in Nunavut are estimated to be homeless and waiting for g​overnment-assisted housing, according to the Nunavut Housing Corporation. Under the government agency’s definition, a household can mean parents with children, a single person, or some other family arrangement.

Getting through the backlog can take years.

[. . .]

Half of Nunavut lives in social housing, many of the units overcrowded.

“I’ve seen as high as 22 people staying in a three-bedroom unit that was 1,200 square feet,” said Lori Kimball, the president and CEO of the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Right now, there are 2,313 households on the waiting list to get into social housing, though Kimball estimates the need is much higher. Many don’t bother applying, she says, because of the severe shortage.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm


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