With temperatures that can go as low as minus 38 degrees Celsius, it can often be near impossible to believe in all this talk about global warming. In the dead of winter in Canada, nobody at all wants to hear anything about global temperatures rising. It simply doesn’t exist in the middle of January. However, global warming is real and a serious issue to Canada, and its Aboriginal Peoples.
I have lived most of my life in Canada and have come to accept that winter is just a part of living in this wonderful country. As a child, it easily becomes a winter wonderland of fun, games and afternoons playing hockey outside. However, as an adult, it can quickly wear out its welcome. The daily commute to work in unbearable temperatures can quickly change your perspective. You’ll no longer question what it means when someone talks about cabin fever. Spending weeks at a time inside your house because it’s simply too cold to go outside, can drive you nearly insane. However, somewhere along the way, I noticed something that forever made me realize just how real the issue of global warming has become. Growing up as a child, I always played hockey on an outside rink before Christmas. It was almost a tradition for my friends and I to celebrate our Christmas break from school with a hockey game outside. We did this year after year, until gradually over time, we no longer could. It wasn’t an immediate change, but a gradual one where it was no longer cold enough to make a rink. In fact, over time, they simply stopped putting up the boards, until suddenly, I realized the boards for the rink only started going up in the beginning to second week of January. From always playing as a child before Christmas, to not being able to play until January, made me wonder about whether any of this global warming issue had any merit. Then I started looking into the situation and came across some startling facts.
The Aboriginal People in Canada, have had to make new words in their language for animals they’ve never seen before.
We’ve all heard the stories of the retreating ice caps in the Arctic, and its effects on Polar bears who have now become classified as an endangered species by both the United States, and the world conservation union’s red list. Retreating ice caps make it near impossible for Polar Bears to survive. They need the ice caps to hunt for seals. According to some estimates, up to half of the world’s Polar Bear population could become extinct in the coming 50 years. This is all well documented in Canada, and an obvious result of global warming, but sometimes it still gets refuted by special interest groups who are always ready to submit new and contradictory evidence against global warming. However, when I heard that Aboriginal people had only recently started to encountered Robins, Owls, or Hornets in their Arctic vilages, and suddenly had to make up new words in their language for these animals, I started to wonder exactly what more evidence people needed to believe that global warming is a real and serious threat. This to me was astonishing. Consider a people whose history goes back thousands of years, suddenly having to make up new words to describe animals never seen in their entire history!
According to Environment Canada, the average yearly temperature has increased by 0.74 degrees Celsius since 1906.
A number of people might just read the above fact and mock it. While it certainly doesn’t seem that dire, according to some estimates, the temperatures in the arctic are rising at almost twice the rate than in the rest of the world. Canada’s Aboriginal People’s rely heavily on hunting both for sustenance, and for its ability to provide it’s families with monetary payment. Their entire way of life is at stake, and yet there is a growing sentiment that global warming may actually help Canada’s Aboriginals by opening up sea shipping lanes and uncovering the long sought Northwest Passage.
Perhaps the most difficult argument to accept is that with Global Warming and the melting of the polar ice caps, comes the opportunity to tap into vast petroleum resources that could equal up to 400 billion barrels of oil. Ironic isn’t it? The one thing that is causing global warming may actually lead to the largest deposit of petroleum in the western world. Now a number of countries have made claims on the region. From the United States through the tip of Alaska, to Canada and Russia, and several other countries, everyone seems to be staking a claim to the rich deposit. Somewhere along the way, Canada’s aboriginal people and their way of life is easily forgotten. Now, like so many times in North American History, we’ll rationalize their eventual change in life and assume it’s in their best interest.