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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘arctic canada

[LINK] “Food in North often expired — even at high prices and with subsidy, good food is hard to find”

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The National Post carries Bob Weber’s article in The Canadian Press describing how a Canadian government program intended to make healthy food more affordable in the North has not worked at all.

A researcher has found that a federal subsidy intended to reduce astronomical food prices for northern families has resulted in stale-dated, unreliable food on store shelves without making grocery bills more affordable.

Tracey Galloway of the University of Toronto, whose findings are to be published in a scientific journal later this month, says the Nutrition North program should be reformed with mandatory price caps on essential food.

“Without price caps and regulatory framework for pricing, the retailers have arbitrary control on how they set prices,” she said from Iqaluit, where she was presenting her results. “We have not seen prices come down over the course of this subsidy.”

Food in the North costs between two and three times what it does in the south. Grapes were recently selling in Nunavut for more than $28 a kilogram.

[. . .]

Nutrition North is a $77-million program that, since it replaced the Food Mail initiative in 2011, has sought to reduce costs by subsidizing shipping to 121 communities in the three territories and the northern regions of the provinces. The federal government is reviewing the program and has held public meetings across the North.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 7, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Canada, Economics

Tagged with , , ,

[LINK] “Killer whales eating their way farther into Manitoba”

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CBC News reports on changing mammal populations in Hudson’s Bay, with killer whales potentially displacing not just polar bears but belugas, too.

The food chain in Hudson Bay is drastically changing as killer whales take advantage of less sea ice and eat their way into Manitoba, a researcher in Arctic mammal populations says.

Steven Ferguson, a researcher with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the University of Manitoba, will be presenting his findings in Winnipeg this week at ArcticNet 2016, the largest single gathering of scientists focused on the rapidly changing Arctic.

“We are seeing a lot more killer whale activity in Hudson Bay and they are a top predator. They are really a magnificent, interesting predator — highly efficient,” Ferguson said.

Killer whales are not a fan of sea ice because it bothers their dorsal fins. However, sea ice is melting earlier and forming later each year.

Ferguson said that means killer whales are spending more time farther into Hudson Bay and “they are there to eat.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 5, 2016 at 9:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO praises the food court of Village by the Grange.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about the importance of self-care in times of stress.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that KIC 8462852 does seem to have faded throughout the Kepler mission.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Planet Nine may be especially faint in the infrared and looks at the challenges mapping polar regions on Titan.
  • Imageo notes how melting of the ice cap continues in the Arctic Ocean.
  • Language Hat reports on a new script for the Fulani language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that people who blame identity politics for the victory of Trump were not exactly non-supporters of the main.
  • Marginal Revolution considers the consequences of bribing the American president.
  • The NYRB Daily shares Charles Simic’s deep concerns for the future of the United States.
  • Jim Belshaw’s Personal Reflections discusses Australia as a target for immigration and calls for honesty in discussions on migration.
  • Peter Rukavina reports on the visit of then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband 65 years ago.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi makes the fair point that he can hardly be expected to know what his Trump-era novels will be like.
  • Window on Eurasia compares Russia’s happiness with Trump’s election to its elation over Obama’s in 2008, and looks at how Russia is facing decline on a lot of fronts.

[LINK] On a 19th century Inuit encounter with the walking dead … of the Franklin expedition

The National Post‘s Tristan Hopper reports on how the oral traditions of the Inuit describe their encounter, in the 19th century, with the “walking dead” of the Franklin expedition.

It was easily one of the most unearthly and chilling visions that had ever struck the land that would soon become Canada.

Eight or nine lurching figures: Their eyes vacant, their skin blue, unable to talk and barely alive.

It was sometime before 1850 at a remote Arctic hunting camp near the southwest edge of King William Island, an Arctic island 1,300 km northwest of what is now Iqaluit, Nunavut. And these “beings” had seemingly materialized out of nowhere.

“They’re not Inuit; they’re not human,” was how a woman, badly shaking with fright, first reported their arrival to the assembled camp.

They were all gathered in an igloo. The men of the camp were away seal hunting, leaving only the women, children and one old man.

As the group tried to process the terrifying reality of what they’d just heard, the crunching footsteps of the strangers got closer.

“Everyone got scared. Very, very scared,” was how the Gjoa Haven shaman Nicholas Qayutinuaq described the encounter to historian Dorothy Eber in 1999. The story was included in Eber’s 2008 book Encounters on the Passage.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 29, 2016 at 7:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Arctic Cities Crumble as Climate Change Thaws Permafrost”

Wired‘s Alec Luhn reports from Siberia, where global warming is wreaking havoc on cities’ infrastructure. If there is going to be, as some predict, a population boom in the Arctic as global warming continues, there are going to be major infrastructure issues around.

At first, Yury Scherbakov thought the cracks appearing in a wall he had installed in his two-room flat were caused by shoddy workmanship. But then other walls started cracking, and then the floor started to incline. “We sat on the couch and could feel it tilt,” says his wife, Nadezhda, as they carry furniture out of the flat.

Yury wasn’t a poor craftsman, and Nadezhda wasn’t crazy: One corner of their five-story building at 59 Talnakhskaya Street in the northern Russian city of Norilsk was sinking as the permafrost underneath it thawed and the foundation slowly disintegrated. In March 2015, local authorities posted notices in the stairwells that the building was condemned.

Cracking and collapsing structures are a growing problem in cities like Norilsk—a nickel-producing centre of 177,000 people located 180 miles above the Arctic Circle—as climate change thaws the perennially frozen soil and increases precipitation. Valery Tereshkov, deputy head of the emergencies ministry in the Krasnoyarsk region, wrote in an article this year that almost 60 percent of all buildings in Norilsk have been deformed as a result of climate change shrinking the permafrost zone. Local engineers said more than 100 residential buildings, or one-tenth of the housing fund, have been vacated here due to damage from thawing permafrost.

In most cases, these are slow-motion wrecks that can be patched up or prevented by engineering solutions. But if a foundation shifts suddenly it can put lives at risk: cement slabs broke a doctor’s legs when the front steps and overhanging roof of a Norilsk blood bank collapsed in June 2015. Building and maintenance costs will have to be ramped up to keep cities in Russia’s resource-rich north running.

Engineers and geologists are careful to note that “technogenic factors” like sewer and building heat and chemical pollution are also warming the permafrost in places like Norilsk, the most polluted city in Russia. But climate change is deepening the thaw and speeding up the destruction, at the very same time that Russia is establishing new military bases and oil-drilling infrastructure across the Arctic. Greenpeace has warned that permafrost thawing has caused thousands of oil and gas pipeline breaks.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 21, 2016 at 9:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting how Tau Ceti’s debris disk is not like our solar system’s.
  • Language Hat talks about writers who want anonymity.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the return of homophobic protesters in France.
  • The Map Room Blog shares hazard maps of various Yukon communities.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that India’s biometric smartcards works, and notes diversity does not reduce economic growth.
  • Peter Rukavina shares some late 1990s photos of cows taken with an early digital camera.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the recent controversy over Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Window on Eurasia argues Russia might invade Ukraine more openly before January but also suggests that Russia is quite brittle.

[LINK] “How climate change is driving tourism in the Canadian Arctic”

In NOW Toronto, Nicholas Engelmann reports on how global warming is enabling a new era of mass tourism in the Arctic.

I am geared up: red Mustang float coat, four layers of polyester, waterproof pants, insulated rubber boots and gloves, radio harness and dry bag. I lean carefully through the port entrance, 2 metres above the teal water. Two nautical miles away on the horizon, a meniscus barely rising above the sea forms the low profile of Igloolik.

Cranes lower Zodiacs into the water and expedition staff are hopping in, starting engines, loading gear and readying to bring passengers ashore. A 1980s powerboat is bobbing 50 metres off the portside. Propped over its windshield is a video camera with a microphone in a pop filter, speckled grey, the colour of an Arctic fox in summer. Handling the camera in the chop is a 50-something man in an old fleece jacket and baseball cap.

I am aboard the MV Sea Adventurer, where I work as a guide and lecturer, and we’re tracing the Northwest Passage. One week in and we arrive in the hamlet of Igloolik, one of the most isolated communities in the Canadian Arctic.

It’s late summer, and we are the first passenger vessel of the season. In fact, we’re the first to arrive on these shores since 2011. We navigated Fury and Hecla Strait, which is notorious for being covered ice but was remarkably clear for our voyage.

On the way, we passed the Crystal Serenity, which has been making headlines as the first full-sized cruise ship to navigate the Northwest Passage, and thereby ushering in the arrival of a new era of eco-tourism made possible by thinning ice and rising temperatures.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2016 at 8:45 pm