Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 05, 2017 - 4:00 pm

Author predicts climate change will bring grim future to the Arctic

“The North will be the victims of what is happening elsewhere,” Gwynne Dyer says

BETH BROWN
Gwynne Dyer, author, journalist and longtime commentator on international affairs, security and climate change will speak Sept. 7 at the Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre in Iqaluit. (PHOTO COURTESY OF GWYNNE DYER)
Gwynne Dyer, author, journalist and longtime commentator on international affairs, security and climate change will speak Sept. 7 at the Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre in Iqaluit. (PHOTO COURTESY OF GWYNNE DYER)

The world’s average global temperature is only one degree Celsius away from a potential climate catastrophe to which few regions would be more vulnerable than the Arctic.

That’s according to well-known author, historian and journalist Gwynne Dyer, who is a frequent commentator on international affairs, security and climate change. 

Dyer plans share his knowledge of climate change as it relates to the North in Iqaluit Sept. 7 during a talk at the Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre.

Globally, there’s time for a reversal of global warming, said Dyer, speaking to Nunatsiaq News, in advance of that event.

But in the North, the average atmospheric temperature is already two or three degrees C. higher than in lower latitudes.

It’s not news to northerners that sea ice is getting thinner and melting more quickly, and that permafrost is more prone to thaw, but Dyer said this change in overall global temperature is the primary reason these are taking place.
“All the effects are magnified in the North,” he said. “You’re getting more warming and the effects on permafrost and sea ice are bigger than similar effects on the rest of the planet,” Dyer said.

Dyer, originally from Newfoundland, is on a speaking tour to promote an upcoming book, as well as past titles including Climate Wars.

Nunatsiaq News spoke with Dyer Aug. 31 to get a sense of what he plans to talk about.

Dyer said that if all players in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement keep their promises, climate concerns could possibly be alleviated in the coming years.

While that possibility is nothing to “declare a national holiday” over, the agreement was still “a far better deal than we’ve ever made before,” Dyer said. 

“We might just squeak to a halt before we hit two,” he said, referring to the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to a rise of two degrees C. above the pre-industrial level. As it stands, it’s inevitable, he says, that the global temperatures will increase, on average, by at least 1.3 C above pre-industrial levels.

But an increase of two C or higher would trigger a “runaway” scenario under which the current incremental release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would become exponentially greater.

He used permafrost thaw as an example, saying that should that thaw, the dead vegetation in the soil— which froze before it could naturally decompose—would rot all at once, causing a mass release of carbon dioxide. 

“Once that happens we can’t stop it, unless you know a way of refreezing the permafrost,” he said.

Right now the burning of fossil fuels accounts for about 60 per cent of climate change globally and agriculture accounts for about 20 per cent, he said, adding that forestry is a close third.

In a territory such as Nunavut, that is seeing the negative impacts from warming, and that is largely reliant on diesel for power, this news could be cause for concern.

But Dyer said that fossil fuel emissions from Nunavut’s diesel electric power plants couldn’t be compared to the fuel levels burned daily during rush hour traffic in Toronto, or to the kinds of machinery used in the mass production of monoculture crops.

That’s because of the North’s small population, he said. 

He had the same opinion when it came to added emissions from vessels transiting the Northwest Passage, mine development in Nunavut, or offshore drilling that could take place in the U.S. following President Donald Trump’s environmental policy changes.

“That’s pollution, that’s not global warming,” Dyer said. “By and large human activities in the North are such a tiny part of the cycle.”

In these cases, sudden pollution via an oil spill or damage made to ecosystems needed by northern wildlife are far more pressing concerns, he said.

“I don’t think development as such—building houses, building harbours—is going to have any significant effect on climate. The North will be the victims of what is happening elsewhere.”

While many large scale issues in the Arctic—such as sovereignty, security and trade—get a lot of “hype” within international dialogue, “climate is not hype,” Dyer said, adding that he thinks this reality will make it harder for northerners to keep up traditional Inuit ways of life.

“I think it will be increasingly difficult for people in the North to live part of the old lifestyle, part of the time,” Dyer said. 

If you want to hear more, or ask questions in person, Dyer will speak at the amphitheater in the visitor centre on Thurs., Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

The evening event is to be hosted jointly by the Iqaluit Centennial Library and the Nunavut Arctic College.

The college will record the presentation to use in its environmental curriculum.

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by Kinakiangai on September 05, 2017

We do not know what will happen to this world, those predictors have nothing else to do while just predicting climate catastrophes they suck man, just live life the way you want it and everything will just work it self out.

#2. Posted by YUP on September 05, 2017

#1….....HUH???.....seriously!

#3. Posted by Jesus Christ on September 05, 2017

Human s and there going on about the end of life .

#4. Posted by sled dog on September 05, 2017

sound like another climate expert trying to cash in with fearmongering of doom and gloom.

“But Dyer said that fossil fuel emissions from Nunavut’s diesel electric power plants couldn’t be compared to the fuel levels burned daily during rush hour traffic in Toronto, or to the kinds of machinery used in the mass production of monoculture crops.”

Yes, yes they can be compared.

#5. Posted by Welcome Gwynne on September 06, 2017

Looking forward to your talk. Please disregard the BS in this comment section. This is the anti-science bible belt of the north.

#6. Posted by Ataniiq on September 06, 2017

Stick to Arts and History bud.

#7. Posted by Jim MacDonald on September 06, 2017

Like the characters in the storybook Little Red Hen, who became tired constantly hearing the sky is falling. 

Sames goes with Global warming, which around 2003 had a stealth name change to Climate Change. Because warming wasn’t happening, but a cooling. Messed up the Co2 line.

The globe warms up, then the climate changes and cools back down. And without man-made Co2, ie burning oil the warming cause.  Co2 became the distraction from going after real pollution. (Carbon Dioxide a natural fertilizer, good for the environment, nourishment for plant photosynthesis, and photosynthesis waste is oxygen.)

Climate cycles with massive amounts of scientific research of our globe warming/cooling cycles, by connecting how the sun and space weather affect weather on earth.

We’re leaving solar maximum (globe warms) to enter a solar minimum (few sunspots/low sun activity) giving low clouds and cool/cold temperatures.

(Easy to make early arena natural ice again.)

#8. Posted by Benoit Hudson on September 06, 2017

The “stealth change” in 2003 was because the Bush administration did some focus groups and found “climate change” was less scary than “global warming”.

The term “climate change” dates to the mid-20th century, when it replaced the 19th-century term “climatic change.”

No matter what you call it, or whether you believe in it, it’s happening.

#9. Posted by Peanut Gallery on September 07, 2017

Gywnne Dyer is a military historian and a brilliant author, it’s almost comical to read the idiot comments on this knowing they were written by so many of Nunavut’s finest troglodytes. I guess similar could be said about nearly every story and comments section though.

#10. Posted by Gord on September 07, 2017

@7: no Nunatsiaq climate change article is complete without your rantings and ravings Jim.

Please post your sources next time you decide to share your pseudoscience with us.

#11. Posted by Jim MacDonald on September 08, 2017

Here is a good start…

Chapter 17
The New Little Ice Age Has Started
by H.I. Abdussamatov,
Evidance based climate science 2nd edition.

sciencedirect.com
search author name
It will bring you to an abstract. To read full chapter you’ll have to purchase.

Enjoy.

#12. Posted by Jim MacDonald on September 08, 2017

Yes, no fun info behind a pay-wall. (Though chapter 17 is a great but heavy read.)

Here, look over these 80 temperature graphs from 58, 2017 papers.

http://notrickszone.com/2017/05/29/80-graphs-from-58-new-2017-papers-invalidate-claims-of-unprecedented-global-scale-modern-warming/#sthash.Jo0kbEPp.jvTM2zKM.dpbs

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