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.
The Great Bear Region along British Columbia's coast holds one of the largest unspoiled temperate rainforests left on the planet. There was a time when much of the rainforest was slated to be clear cut. But this week, environmentalists, forestry companies, and the 26 First Nations that call the rainforest home reached a final agreement that permanently protects the wilderness and benefits us all.
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.
Without the forest and the economic activity it generates, the North Shore, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and all the other forest regions of Quebec would not have experienced the same level of economic development that has benefited all Quebecers. However, forestry activity could fall sharply in the fairly near future.
We don't need to look any further than the collapse of Newfoundland's northern cod fishery to be reminded of how communities are impacted when resources are overexploited. For centuries, the cod stocks in this region seemed inexhaustible. But when the fishery collapsed in 1992, over 40,000 people lost their jobs.
While these colourful marine life forms have been a common and popular sight in the past, in 2013 beach-goers and researchers alike started noticing sea stars with missing or damaged arms. The sea star wasting disease has since been found in over 20 species of sea stars, throughout their Pacific coast range.
Phosphorus is a key nutrient in aquatic systems, but excess phosphorous is the leading cause of the increase in the harmful blue-green algae that is becoming more common in the Great Lakes. Toxic and harmful algal bloom occurrences in Lake Erie pose risks to drinking supplies, quality of life and economic vitality.
Algal blooms are not a new for Lake Erie. In the 1960s and 70s, blooms were so bad the lake was described as "dead." But despite the success of earlier remedial measures, harmful algal blooms are back and bigger than ever. Algal blooms later this summer are expected to be among the worst ever seen in Lake Erie.
Five years ago, the world's tiger countries came together in the face of drastic tiger population decline to set an ambitious goal. With as few as 3,200 wild tigers remaining, a 97 per cent decline from historic populations, governments agreed to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 -- the next year of the tiger. Five years into this ambitious campaign, we have started to see some extremely promising results in Nepal, a country which is becoming known for its innovative work to protect charismatic species like the tiger, rhino and elephant.
This decision to reject over $1-billion, which was offered to gain consent for the proposed Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on Lelu Island in the Great Bear Sea, sends a clear message of opposition to a project that threatens this ecologically and culturally rich region and its salmon-based economy.
As Canadians, we are incredibly lucky to live in a country with so much natural wealth, but we're taking that for granted. We're placing huge demands on the planets' resources, ranked 11th per capita in the world. If everybody in the world lived like Canadians, we would require 3.7 planets to meet our needs -- clearly, this is not sustainable.
We have chosen to focus our efforts on one of the most critical -- and most debated -- aspects of offshore drilling: the ability to stop a ruptured well from gushing crude oil into the Arctic Ocean in a timely fashion. For us, this is the most risky, most troubling issue that could arise, as illustrated in WWF's recent Beaufort Sea oil spill modelling research.
In Canada, we have every reason to take an international leadership position on this issue. There are deep cultural connections between whales and our coastal communities -- and economic ones too. Whale watching has grown exponentially in recent decades, part of a global $2.1 billion (U.S.) industry.