Climate Change in the Arctic: An Inuit Reality

By Smith, Duane | UN Chronicle, June 2007 | Go to article overview

Climate Change in the Arctic: An Inuit Reality


Smith, Duane, UN Chronicle


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) characterizes the circumpolar Arctic as the world's climate change "barometer". The 160,000 Inuit who live in northern Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Chukotka in Russia have witnessed the changing of the natural environment as a result of global warming for almost 20 years.

It is important that you know what climate change does and means to us, for what we are experiencing now will happen to the further South in a few short years. I live in Inuvik, well above the Arctic circle, on the Mackenzie River delta in Canada's northwest territories. About 4,000 people live in Inuvik--the northern headquarters of oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea region. The circumpolar Arctic is not isolated anymore; globalization has reached it. The South is hungry for our oil, gas and minerals, with exploration proceeding quickly in many parts of the Arctic. The United States Geological Survey believes that 25 per cent of the world's remaining oil and gas is located here. Northern Canada is the world's third largest producer of gem diamonds; great reserves of base and precious metals and coal have been found in the North. In the last 40 to 50 years, Inuit have adjusted to social, economic and cultural changes. But even as we adapt to globalization, we realize that climate moderation is likely to be the key driver of socio-economic and cultural changes in years ahead.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In 1999, the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development and the community of Sachs Harbour (with about 125 people), on Banks Island in the Beaufort Sea region, documented local and regional environmental changes. In a video shown at the 2000 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), hunters and elders spoke with quiet authority about: commonplace and cumulative changes; melting permafrost, resulting in beach slumping and lake erosions; increased snowfalls; longer sea ice-free seasons; emerging or invasive new species of birds, fish and insects (barn owls, mallard, pin-tailed ducks and salmon) near the community; a decline in the lemming population (a basic food for Arctic fox and a staple species); and a general warming trend.

These changes are not unique to my region. They are also reported by Inuit in Greenland and Alaska, Saami in northern Norway, Aleut in the Aleutian Islands, Athabaskans and Gwich'in in North America, Nenets, Chukchi and many other indigenous peoples in northern Russia. Our world is increasingly changing. The traditional knowledge of how the world works, passed down from generation to generation, is less accurate than it was. Climate change is not a theoretical faraway problem for future generations to solve. It is already happening in the Arctic, which is struggling to adjust and adapt to its impacts. Communities are contending with vanishing historical sites, gravesite erosions, and community disruption and relocation. Inuit are as adaptable as others, but only to a certain degree.

Our observations helped to persuade the eight Arctic States to launch the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) in 2000, involving more than 300 scientists from 15 countries, and assisted by Arctic indigenous peoples. The Assessment, published in 2005, was the centrepiece of the 2005 COP in Montreal. It significantly influenced the three summaries for policymakers, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, on the physical science of climate change mitigation and impacts effects and vulnerabilities, which singled out the Arctic. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Climate Change in the Arctic: An Inuit Reality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.