Voici quelques nouvelles du Grand Nord. J’ai en effet pensé qu’il était intéressant de vous faire part de ce message qui traite d’un sujet d’actualité, accompagné d’un bulletin d’information édité à Inuvik. Ce courriel faisait en effet suite à une question de ma part, concernant le climat, afin d’avoir l’avis d’une personne qui vit en Arctique. Judi est une personne dynamique et sympathique qui anime avec son mari Olav le B & B Arctic Chalet où j’ai séjourné en avril 2006. Elle m’a donc donné brièvement son point de vue et communiqué quelques articles dont j’en ai retenu deux que je vous laisse découvrir.
Très bonne lecture
Good to hear from you. We are doing fine and are experiencing the warmest winter ever. The Arctic certainly feels warmer than it used to. I remember 20 years ago when the whole month of January was so cold. Sometimes for a whole week the temperatures would be around -40Cto -52C. This month it has been -11C and -25C. Yesterday the high was -8C.
The sun is up now for 5.5 hours a day and it feels like spring time. So it has been really nice for dogsledding. Last Sunday the dogs ran for 3.5 hours. We run them almost every day and they are so fit! The trails are beautiful thanks to Olav who spends hours grooming them with his big equipment.
I am forwarding the Permafrost News Letter to you. You can subscribe to it if you wish. It contains a lot of information about global warming and is produced right here in Inuvik.
Personally I would say that the warmer temperatures have been a great advantage to us. We save a lot of money on heating our buildings and it is more pleasant to be out doing the things that we love to do. But we don't want the Arctic to melt away. We are concerned about that happening.
The ice road actually went in early this year because there was not much snow on the river early in the winter to insulate the ice from the cold. So the road actually opened a couple of weeks earlier than last year. So that was a short term benefit.
My greatest concern is pollution. I believe that it is a very serious problem and that mankind is destroying the planet through greed and wastefulness. I think we need to make some big changes and do it quickly to try to reverse this global warming effect. But I must say I don't believe it will happen.
There just aren't enough responsible people on the planet to make the changes that must be made within the next few years. I think that in 10 years the planet will be in BIG trouble.
Hope your day is going great.
Please check our web site for updated information on accommodations. www.arcticchalet.com
For dog sledding information please go to: www.whitehuskies.com
Global warming may spell opportunity, not disaster, for Canada
Jacqueline Thorpe, Financial Post
January 27, 2007 - New Arctic shipping routes, a boom in trade with Russia, corn instead of wheat on the Prairies, golf instead of skiing in Ontario, Chardonnay instead of ice wine in Niagara, lower heating bills and fewer deaths due to pneumonia.
As the world braces for an onslaught of doom and gloom from a United Nations report on climate change next Friday, perhaps it is time to consider a hitherto heretical notion: while a warmer climate may pose challenges for , it will open up new economic opportunities, too.
Consider one overlooked passage in last year's Stern Review, a sweeping assessment of the potential costs of global warming by Nicholas Stern, Britain's chief economist: "In higher latitude regions, such as Canada, Russia and Scandinavia, climate change may lead to net benefits for temperature increases of 2C or 3C, through higher agricultural yields, lower winter mortality, lower heating requirements and a possible boost to tourism."
Mr. Stern went on to say these regions will also experience the most rapid rates of warming, potentially damaging infrastructure health, livelihoods and biodiversity. And his main conclusion for the world was dismal: a rise of 3C would mean that between 1 billion and 4 billion more people would suffer water shortages and put an extra 150 million to 550 million people at risk of hunger as parts of Africa and central continents suffer more droughts.
But for , which a twist of geography has put near the top of the world and endowed with a bounty of fresh water, large swathes of arable soil, forests and other natural resources, a warmer climate may not spell disaster.
Mike Ogborn's company is already trying to make the most of the opportunities of a warmer climate.
The managing director for Omni TRAX Canada Inc., which owns the Port of Churchill, Man., on the southwest corner of Hudson Bay believes the port could become a beehive of activity as warmer weather melts ice choking the bay earlier each year.
Sailing time from Murmansk, the northern gateway to a market of 150- million people in Russia, is four days less to Churchill than through the St. Lawrence Seaway and up the Great Lakes to Thunder Bay. Plus Churchill can accommodate large 60,000-tonne vessels, fully loaded.
Omni Trax, which handles nearly all the Canadian Wheat Board's outbound shipments -- 500,000 tonnes of wheat, barley and other grains last year -- has seen a lengthening of the shipping season since the Denver-based company bought the port at auction from the federal government for a $1 a decade ago.
"Even that additional time that the port is open is beneficial to the trade routes," Mr. Ogburn says in a telephone interview. "On either end of the traditional season we've seen a week to 10 days or more. It used to be the last week of July to about the middle of October. Now it's roughly the second week of July to the end of November. It allows us to market the port more for outbound shipments as well as inbound."
Mr. Ogburn, along with Russian officials, is lobbying the federal government to allow Russian ice-breakers in to lengthen the season even more.
In another 20, 30, 50 years or so, the route between Churchill and Murmansk --called the Northeast Route or the Arctic Bridge -- may be largely ice free all year round if global warming causes the ice to melt as scientists predict.
While some have dreamed that melting ice would open up the infamous Northwest Passage -- creating a Panama Canal North that could lop 10 to 15 days off shipping time between Asia and Europe -- scientists at the National Research Council believe it would remain impenetrable to large scale commercial shipping even with significant warming.
Still, if global warming experts are right large parts of the Arctic could open up for tourism, some commercial shipping and exploration for oil, gas and other resources.
"[There] is the opportunity for ship travel both commercial and recreational through the North and that has huge benefits, if you're doing you're pluses and minuses," said Barry Smit, professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change at the University of Guelph.
The Inuit could face a loss of traditional hunting lands, although warmer waters could bring more fish, such as cod, to the Arctic.
"They are already struggling with the opportunities and risks that come from the imposition of southern economies and southern culture," Mr. Smit said. "On the one hand, there's all sorts of things they have and they can if [warming] were not the case, but there's huge challenges in adapting socially to that. It's nothing new and this would exacerbate both the good things about that and the bad things about that."
While many scientists believe the world will warm, and greenhouses gases are causing it, there is still great uncertainty on how warm the world will get.
According to a draft report on Reuters, the UN's Intergovernmental Pane on Climate Change (IPCC) to be released on Friday, is expected to predict a global temperature rise of 2 C to 4.5 C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 with a "best estimate" of a rise of 3 C. That's a narrower range than the 1.4-5.8 C in the previous report in 2001.
There is also better news on sea levels, with a rise of between 28 centimetres and 43 cm predicted compared to a far wider band of 9 cm to 88 cm in a 2001 report, Reuters said, citing scientific sources.
And while the report is expected to warn of more heat waves, floods, droughts, shrinking glaciers and rising sea levels, curiously it is expected to say dust from volcanic eruptions and air pollution seems to have braked warming in recent decades by reflecting sunlight back into space.
Much of the research into global warming has failed to take into account that humans will adapt to their changing climate, like they always have. However, a new-fangled scientific word for this old-fangled behaviour is starting to make it into the global warming literature: adaptation.
"Early research never took adaptation into account," said Robert Mendelsohn, a professor at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. "It just looked at climate change effects as if people just stood still and never did anything at all. Sea levels rise and you let the water rise up to your knees and you don't do anything about it. It appears we are very good at this kind of adaptation. It's the only reason we can survive living in the polar ice caps all the way down to the equator."
One of the most promising areas for adaptation is agriculture.
"A lot of work has been done on agriculture and the consensus is there are some opportunities that come from a changing climate," Mr. Smit said. "Most notably, a longer growing season and more heat in areas that are otherwise constrained. In a lot of , our production is limited by a variety of climatic conditions that include temperature. If...we get a little bit more temperature that creates all sorts of opportunities. It means we can switch to higher-yielding varieties of some things. It means we can introduce crops we can't produce reliably that we have to get from further south."
Elaine Wheaton, research scientist/ climatologist at the Saskatchewan Research Council, says the growing season on the Prairies has increased several days in the last 20 years, a significant extension for an area that has a limited number of growing days.
Ms. Wheaton says instead of growing wheat, farmers could switch to corn, a heat-loving, drought resistance crop, while warm season grasses such as switch grass (used primarily for foraging livestock), also thrive in warm temperatures.
Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide could increase yields of many crops including soybeans, potatoes and winter wheat, according to a comprehensive study of climate change from Natural Resources Canada, which concludes that Canadian agriculture should generally benefit from modest warming.
Water stress and drought, would be the main challenges for agriculture in a warmer climate. While a warmer climate is expected to increase precipitation it could come more in the form of a thunderstorm than gentle rain.
will have to increase efforts to monitor and conserve water more carefully, Ms. Wheaton says.
We have seen the benefits of monitoring and paying for water," she said. "People are more respectful of it. We've seen that in places like Calgary."
Mr. Mendelsohn expects farming to reach much farther north.
"If you look at a map of where Canadian agriculture is located, it hugs the border, you're really trying to stay in the warmest possible part of the country," he says. "With warming, agriculture will be able to spread north so you'll have a much larger area you can grow food in."
He adds productivity could increase in the boreal forest as carbon dioxide helps trees grow faster; the tree line will likely move north.
Still Mr. Smit says, the farther north farmers advance, the more the soil degrades.
While hotter weather could prove detrimental for chickens in the summer, milder winters could be beneficial to cattle and other livestock, Ms. Wheaton said.
Clearly, pitfalls arise but so do opportunities.
"Pretty well any change that is brought upon a country like , whether it's NAFTA, or change in an international regime or even an environmental condition, we will have people and sectors and even ecosystems that one way or another benefit and others will find problematic."Ms. Wheaton said snow-based recreation businesses are already taking advantage of longer warm seasons for hiking and camping in the West. "Each one of the risks can be made into an opportunity if you're prepared for the change and you have the expertise and technology to deal with it."
One other crop that seems to do well in warmer weather is humans.
A study by Thomas Gale Moore, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, would imply that a 2.5 C warming would lower deaths in the by about 40,000 per year.
"People who move to Arizona or Florida in their old age don't do it because they think they're going to shorten their lives," Mr. Moore said. "More people die in the winter than the summer and more people die in the cold than in the heat," he said. Influenza, pneumonia and respiratory disease can all be aggravated by cold weather.
Many people worry warmer weather will lead to a rise in diseases such as malaria or water-born pests that thrive in warm weather, but Mr. Moore, author of Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn't Worry About Global Warming, says it is poor sanitation and poverty that causes such diseases to survive. There is no malaria in sub-tropical , for example.
While can benefit in many areas from global warming, some of the poorest areas of the world, such as Africa and Latin America, could face more severe droughts, food and water shortages.
Mr. Mendelsohn believes that instead of spending huge sums on carbon abatement or carbon trading schemes, richer nations may want to set money aside to help people in lower latitudes. The best way to do that is to encourage these countries to move away from agriculture to more viable industries and services, he says.
Mr. Moore is relying on human ingenuity to overcome any obstacles global warming may pose. Already in the , there are houses outside the dykes that are built to float when the water comes in.
"The plumbing and everything is on flexible pipe and the basement is built as a sort of pontoon raft that will lift the whole house up-- so ingenious," he says.
Other schemes abound from feeding iron tailings to phytoplankton to encourage them to grow and absorb carbon dioxide, to lacing the atmosphere with dust, to trapping it to feed greenhouses.
"Draw a straight line for anything at current trends and it's a catastrophe," Mr. Moore said. "We don't really know very much what the world will be like in 2100 but I think we can say fairly safely that unless we blow ourselves up we will be richer and more technologically advanced and as such we will be able to deal with things like climate change much better than we can today."
Arctic thaw will open up route to quarter of world's oil reserves
January 27, 2007 - The melting of the Arctic Ocean's pack ice over the coming decades could spark an oil and gas rush, according to experts who warn of the dangers of a sudden and unrestrained exploitation. Researchers and diplomats meeting this week in Tromsoø, , to discuss the challenges facing the Arctic, say global warming will eventually open up new maritime routes in the far north and make it possible for oil and gas companies to begin drilling in the area.
"By 2040 or 2050, the Arctic Ocean will be navigable and that will mean significant developments very soon," said Martin Fortier, a Canadian researcher who heads Arctic Net. Experts estimate the Arctic is home to a quarter of the world's remaining oil reserves.
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