Thursday, January 5, 2017


      The climate change issue has been on my mind for a long time.

      In this province, Alberta, a carbon tax has just come in on Jan . 1.

      Now the climate change goes off in many directions. Some people deny that there is climate change caused by the activities of man. What really gets me is people who talk about believing in climate change. You can believe in ghosts or fairies but when it comes to climate changes it's there. It can be measured and felt.

     Two stories stick in my mind when it comes to climate change. They are both northern in origin.

Image result for map banks island victoria island

     When I taught in Inuvik, we had some students from Sach's Harbor which is on the southwest corner of Banks island. When we flew across the Beaufort to take these kids home in mid June we found open water for 2 or 3 miles along the coast of the Beaufort. This quickly changed to ice and then solid ice.

     Now in the 1930's the Sach's Harbor people had a 60 foot boat. Their nearest trading post was Aklavik in the Mackenzie Delta. Once a year they would make the trip by sea. Follow the map. They would first sail east along the south shore of Banks Island (which is the 5 th largest island in Canada). Sometimes the ice was caught at Cape Lambton which is the bulge on the bottom of Banks Island. They would wait. The ice usually cleared but sometimes they could not get through and would go back to Sach's Harbor and wait and try again next year. Anyway some years they would cross the Beaufort at Cape Lambton to the mainland near Paulatuk.. They would then sail about 500 km west to the Mackenzie Delta and Aklavik. Some years they went further east and found open water close to Victoria island. They usually got to Aklavik in August and then had to go back. Sometimes they couldn't get back and stayed on the mainland for the winter.

    What I'm trying to tell you is that in the 1930's there was lots of ice and it was difficult to get to Sach's Harbor by sea.

    Now there's lots of open water. They can always cross at Cape Lambton. Today they cross that stretch of water in speed boats that carry lots of gas.

    So there has been a major melt of the ice.

Image illustrative de l'article Kangiqsujuaq
    Now I taught in Northern Quebec at Kangiqsujuaq. It's a barren area. The biggest trees were knee high but usually ankle height. They were spruce, birch and willow. We had lots of blue berries but the plants were only 2 or 3 in high. It was a bleak area but beautiful. Now you see photos of the village and there are large spruce trees. In the 1960's the maximum height of trees was 10 to 15 in. Now they have 20 ft trees. WHY? The temperature has warmed up and larger trees can grow.

     So climate change is with us and we have to take action before disaster strikes in some areas. We may debate about how to deal with climate change , but we have to deal with it in a very realistic way.