Flow Edge, Baffin Island, Canada

Climate Change Binds Arctic with Tropics

ICTMN Staff
2/4/11

On the face of it, Barbados and Baffin Island would not appear to have much of anything in common. After all, one is encased in ice most of the year, and the other is a tropical paradise.

But the ice is melting up north—in fact the usually icy Baffin Island and Nunavut was noticeably lacking in the stuff in January, according to the Nunatsiaq News—and in the southern nations, well, their beaches are being washed away by record tides and flooding.

As the results of climate change become more pronounced, they find themselves contending with a common problem: water. One does not have enough of the solid stuff, and the other is inundated with too much of the liquid variety.

Although 3,000 miles apart, the two islands are part of a 43-nation coalition called Many Strong Voices that is working to keep temperatures from escalating beyond hope of climate redemption. The goal of the group, which is made up of Arctic coastal communities and small island developing nations, is to bring the regions together “to take action on climate change, mitigation and adpatation, and to tell their stories to the world,” the group says on its website, under the premise that the island nations and the Arctic “are barometers of global environmental change.”

Leaders of the two regions are starting to shift their attention from the reason for climate change and to the problem at hand: finding ways to adapt to what is an inevitable life change. As Keith Nurse, director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law at the University of the West Indies in Barbados put it to the Nunatsiaq News, a whole new way of thinking is needed to solve the problems linked to climate change. This applies just as much to northern Canada as to the tropics, he said.

He said that breaking dependence on fossil fuels and tourism, tapping into alternative energy sources and rebuilding local food security are the way to go. The first two would reduce the need to import oil and food, and the latter would reduce health-related costs for conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, the newspaper said.

“We’re digging the hole deeper instead of saying we need a new hole,” Nurse told the Nunatsiaq News. “We’re digging the same hole deeper, and then we’re surprised when it floods.”

Indian Country Today Media Network covered the climate talks in Cancun in December.

View the full Nunatsiaq News story here.

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