Polar bears are facing a dire situation for several reasons, and we have the numbers to illustrate exactly how potentially tragic things could be if we don't change things soon. Here's some facts on the status of polar bears today, and why action to reverse climate change is so important for this species.
Polar bears are spending longer periods in the summer and fall open-water season resting along Arctic coastlines due to thinning and retreating sea ice. Cut off from seals, their primary food source, these bears scavenge food and are sometimes attracted to communities by odours from country (hunted) food and general human waste.
Larger cargo carrying ships, tankers and larger cruise ships almost always use heavy fuel oil (HFO), one of the world's dirtiest and most polluting ship fuels. In the global Arctic, these large vessels comprise only 28 per cent of vessels, but consume 75 per cent of the total annual fuel used in the region.
To most Canadians, the Arctic is a faraway and mysterious place. It's a romantic piece of our history and identity. That wildness and cold is something we're proud of, but we don't know much about. It should play a bigger role in our consciousness. The Arctic makes up almost 40 per cent of Canada's landmass and two-thirds of our coastline.
A moment of silence was observed at the start of the Arctic Energy Summit in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Monday, September 28, in response to Royal Dutch Shell's sudden announcement that it has abandoned oil exploration in offshore Alaska "for the foreseeable future." Shell's announcement was a bombshell and caught everyone off guard. The silence in the plenary session hall -- which happens to double as a hockey arena -- was surreal. I wondered: Could this be the end of offshore oil in the Arctic?
Now is surely the time to say "enough is enough." We need to tally all the impacts we've seen, think about how many more are yet to come and decide it's time to take action on climate change. Canadians need to look at the other countries who are leading on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and realize that we're being left behind. Our leaders must implement new climate policies now and prepare for the UN Climate negotiations that are happening in Paris this December.
A quarrel over the search for two ships that sank in the middle of the 19th century probably doesn't strike people as the best reason to turn your back on a six-figure salary and walk the plank. To understand why, you only need to know this: I've lost track of the times I was nearly killed because I knew I had to give a bigger voice to frightened, intimidated people who couldn't stand up to power on their own. That is the core of the story I've returned to after breaking free yesterday from a six-week reporting ban imposed by Toronto Star editors.
A chemical dispersant is a kind of "spill-treating agent" (or "STA") that is designed to break up an oil slick and dilute the oil by mixing it into the water. A chemical dispersant isn't truly a clean-up tool -- it doesn't take any spilled oil out of the environment, and by the time a dispersant is applied, it's already too late to save most life forms in the vicinity of the spill.
The North Pole is a single point on the Arctic map that falls in an area claimed by three countries. Directly beneath this spot, below the polar ice, is the Lomonosov Ridge, now at the centre of a land dispute. Canada, Denmark and Russia are jockeying for exclusive jurisdiction of the submerged mountain range. If the pole went to the country that can best govern it, the winner is Denmark. In second place, Canada would not be bad, especially relative to Russia. But between the two, as one expert told the CBC, "there's absolutely no doubt that the North Pole is most definitely closer to Greenland than it is to Canada." Still, here are some alternative factors to consider: