Monday, August 29, 2011

Missing the boat

There's good news and bad news about this Globe editorial today, "Canada in danger of missing the boat in the Arctic." The good news is that the Globe publicizes a major international environmental study on the shrinkage of ice in the Arctic:
A study by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, released in May, revealed the cover of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean is shrinking faster than projected by the U.N.’s expert panel on climate change. It predicts that the Arctic Ocean itself will be virtually free of ice in summer within 30-40 years. The Northwest Passage is forecast to be free of ice earlier than that, in perhaps 20 years.
The bad news is that the Globe uses this information, as significant as it is, to argue this point:
Yet Canada, despite having a federal government committed to its own Arctic strategy and sustainable development in that largely untapped region, is unprepared for commercial shipping in the Northwest Passage. The infrastructure needed to support such activity does not exist, and there is little sign that will change. Mr. Rochard, a former French prime minister, said he has the “impression that Canada has given up on the competition to attract a large part of the (shipping) traffic in 25 or 30 years.” Russia, by contrast, is actively pursuing the opportunity.

It may be that Canadians are content with this situation, as the costs would be substantial and such development would alter the fundamental nature of Canada’s North. But isn’t it at least a discussion we should be having?
Maybe there's another discussion we should be having as a result of such a major climate change flashing red light?