T Nation

Eskimos See Mosquitos?


Arctic natives see culture of cold melt away
Inuits in Resolute Bay notice softer wind and less ice

By David Ljunggren

Updated: 9:48 a.m. ET April 20, 2006
RESOLUTE BAY, Canada - Even in one of the remotest, coldest and most inhospitable parts of Canada?s High Arctic, you cannot escape the signs of global warming.

Polar bears hang around on land longer than they used to, waiting for ice to freeze. The eternal night which blankets the region for three months is less dark, thanks to warmer air reflecting more sunlight from the south. Animal species that the local Inuit aboriginal population had never heard of are now appearing.

?Last year someone saw a mosquito,? said a bemused Paul Attagootak, a hunter living in the hamlet of Resolute Bay some 2,100 miles northwest of Ottawa and 555 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

?Things getting warmer is not good for the animals, which are our food. We still eat them. We worry about them,? he told Reuters as temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit, well above the seasonal average.

The entire life of the Inuit -- formerly called Eskimos -- is based on the cold. A rapid increase in temperatures could be cataclysmic as prey disappears and ice becomes treacherous.

In recent years there have been drastic signs of climate change in the southern part of Canada?s Arctic, where melting ice in Hudson Bay threatens the survival of local polar bears.

Buildings in the port town of Tuktoyaktuk -- on the Arctic Ocean, close to Canada?s northern border with Alaska -- are crumbling into the sea as the permafrost dissolves. Remote aboriginal communities are in distress because winter ice roads, needed to truck in supplies, are turning to water.

Wind doesn?t bite anymore?
And now there are signs of change in Resolute Bay, where 250 people live in Canada?s second-most northerly town.

?The most striking thing is that the wind doesn?t bite any more. It used to take pieces of skin off you,? said Wayne Davidson, who runs the local weather monitoring station and has lived in Resolute Bay since 1985.

?The weather here was brutal, probably the coldest, meanest toughest cold weather you could find,? he said. But, he said, there have been enormous changes in the temperature. The mean temperature in March was minus 13.4 degrees Fahrenheit compared with the average of minus 24.2 degrees Fahrenheit from 1947 to 1991.

?All months are warmer by between 3 and 6 degrees (Celsius). This is beyond the usual variations,? said Davidson. ?We?re in a total transition ... it?s a one-way street right now.?

U.S. scientists said in September that the Arctic ice was now the smallest it had been for a century, driven by rising temperatures that many experts believe is linked to emissions of greenhouse gases by humans.

Experts say the Arctic is warming more quickly than the rest of the planet because as the dark ground and seas are exposed by the sun?s rays, they absorb heat faster than reflective snow and ice.

Bears hang around longer
For the inhabitants of Resolute Bay, this can have dangerous consequences, since the local polar bears have to bide their time on land before they can walk out onto the ice.

?There is quite a lot of change in the bears? behavior. They hang around a lot longer than they usually have,? said Tabitha Mullin, a local conservation officer.

?Once in a while they?ll kill the dogs tied up by the beach,? she said.

For now, the polar bear population in the High Arctic numbers more than 10,000 and is still relatively healthy.

?A lot of time you see mothers with two cubs (the norm). Very rarely do you see them with just one cub,? said Mullin, forced indoors by a blizzard which cut visibility to two yards and closed down the hamlet.

The warmer temperatures mean there is increased moisture in the air, which results in more frequent storms.

?We?re seeing more snowfall, not just blowing snow. In the olden days it might rain just once during the summer. Now it happens all the time. It?s awful,? said Mullin.

Legal action against U.S.
In December the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), which represents all northern aboriginals, launched a legal petition against the United States, claiming that its greenhouse gas emissions harmed Inuit human rights. Washington pulled out of the Kyoto accord on climate change in 2001.

Some predict the Arctic waterways could be ice free in summer as early as 2015, which would severely curb the ability of the Inuit to hunt.

?We?re an adaptable people but adaptation has its limitations,? ICC chair Sheila Watt-Clouthier told Reuters, saying the Inuit would continue urging the world to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

?We?re not going to be powerless victims over this issue of climate change ... Science is indicating that we still have about a 10- to 15-year window of opportunity,? she said.

The U.S. administration has shifted its position and now agrees that human activity worsens climate change.

This still leaves a few experts who say the gradual warming of the Earth is caused mostly by natural cycles and that human activities have a moderate impact at best.

Far from the war of words down south, the inhabitants of the High Arctic ponder another mystery. Many people say the air is noticeably brighter in the sunless winter months.

Davidson says this is because a blanket of warmer air higher up is acting as a conduit for the light from the south.

?If it keeps on being this warm, the world will change completely,? he said.

?When I hear people say there is no such thing as global warming, I find them totally appalling.?

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.



They must be loving life. That is where I am building my summer home.


This is the kind of anecdotal evidence that unfortunately a lot of the global warming conclusions are based on. Fortunately, there are some real scientists left who actual use the scientific method to determine the potential for warming and the possible effects. Unfortunately, this issue has become more political than scientific, which means most of the scientific literature that is published or made known in the media is only consistent with the popular view, not what is actually a scientific consensus.



bullshit. Its as close as you can come.

And the people who disagree, guess who they are funded by?



And really, scientific research aside, pictures do not lie.


But I'm going to keep posting things like this, because Republicans have made it all too easy to roll your eyes when people talk about the environment, as if everyone who is concerned is a psycho member of PETA or Greenpeace.

I'm not talking about Smurf village here, I'm talking about the only planet we can live on. And it is changing rapidly, not for the better either.


If we can't adapt to a 3 degree temperature rise by 2050 or whenever, I'd say "To hell with us as a species." Why the hell does anyone worry about global warming anyway?


Because the Earth's atmosphere is a Chaotic System and there's this thing called the "Butterfly effect":



I do believe that the reason that most of the US population refuses to acknowledge the problem -- contrary to most of the rest of the World, who is mostly convinced -- is actually related to our unusually bad grasp of Math.

Possibly the most striking difference I noticed when teaching students in The Netherlands vs here in the US, is the apparent inability that most Americans have to grasp any concept that is abstract. More advanced Math is very abstract, of course, and, as such, Chaos Theory is too.

We tend to use Weather a lot to try and get basic Chaos Theory concepts into the heads of our students, and sometimes that works -- after all, when you see that in spite of a century of data and use of the most powerful computers, we can only forecast weather 10 days in advance with any reasonable degree of certainty, and, even so, the weather forecast for those 10 days will change daily -- sometimes radically -- you manage to get the Butterfly Effect across to some people. But even so, it is still an abstract concept, and some of my students will still have problems applying it in other situations -- like in Macroeconomics (which is why I teach Chaos Theory). Although they understand the symptoms, they do not get the concepts behind them.

Most people in this country seem to have been taught to focus on concrete thought, and never went past it. Mostly because somehow abstract thinking got associated with uselessness -- even though almost all scientific and technological advancements that most people enjoy in this country required, at their root, a lot of abstract thinking.

The saddest thing is that the ability for abstract thinking is the last stage of development of the human brain, and the marker for the onset of adulthood, i.e., people that lack that ability are basically stuck at the teenager developmental level.

So basically we live in a country full of people that are stuck with the mind of a teenager.

Not surprised? Neither am I.


I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty.





Or it could be that moron economists are spouting off about chaos theory while the climatologists predict that ice shelves should be growing, when in actuality, they're shrinking. There's chaos, the butterfly effect, and then there's bad modelling. As for the "abstract thinking is the last stage of development of the human brain" bullshit, are you going to round up all the butterflies to control global warming?

BTW- Lorenz the father of 'The Butterfly Effect' was born in West Haven, Connecticut! Clearly, Americans don't grasp the concept.








So? Did you look at the comments or did you only read the part that you thought that agreed with you?

Did you actually read the wikipedia articles, which, contrary to the site you've linked to, have been contributed to and reviewed by many experts on the subject, not just one idiot with an agenda?

Let's do this: since you're so smart, come up with a weather forecast for each day for the next 12 months that proves to be over 90% accurate and I'll concede that the problem are the models, and the Butterfly effect is a bogus concept and/or it does not apply
to the Earth's atmosphere.

How's that?


And... ?

I don't know if there's any way I can explain this any clearer, but let me try:

Looking at the changes going on, we don't exactly know, with 100% certainty, what's going to happen with our climate. Seriously. We might get a new Ice Age. We might get widespread flooding. We might get a lot of very extreme weather -- extremely cold and rainy winters, very hot summers, lots of tornados and hurricanes. We might get all of the above, depending on the region.

That's the whole point of a Chaotic System: the very small changes in temperature we're seeing in some places will have pretty dramatic results -- we just have no freakin' idea which. But we do know that whatever it is, it will blow up to be a big change: Butterfly effect.

So, should we just stick our head in the sand and pretend nothing is going on? No. We should a) reduce uncertainly by reducing the changes in the atmosphere we are causing -- as we're talking about geometric progressions, even a small reduction in human-induced changes in the atmosphere will reduce the long-term changes by several orders of magnitude -- and b) be on the lookout and prepare for just about any outcome, by protecting ourselves. Looking the other way is not an option.


Irish, you don't even know what greenhouse gas is, and yet you are convinced it will cause the earth's destruction because a few "scientists", funded by non-oil related energy companies, say so.

Bro, stop following the crowd and start following the money and then you might get to some sort of truth. Everything, like your little anecdotal article, is just propaganda!

Here's a hint: The oil companies are not the only ones paying scientists to tell people what they want them to think.


And, I was born in San Francisco, California!

Here's the definition of the word "most" since you seem to need a refresher:



If I had to pick one person on T-Nation that epitomizes abstract thinking, you would definitely be my first choice!



If chaos theory is correct, how does it account for the millions of years without change? How has the earth stayed in exactly the precise spot on the same axis to allow life for millions of years when one little thing could change it?

I guess according to chaos theory, we have been extraordinarily lucky?


1)I'm not the one asserting that the climate models are correct or that we can/should do anything about this. I've more important things to do than listen to people who (relatively) can't predict 6 o'clock at 5:30.

2)What exactly are wikipedia's requirements for contribution? Oh, right; "anyone can edit almost any page, and we encourage you to be bold".


3)I read enough to discern the butterfly effect is more 'contentious' rather than 'abstract', and technically, it goes against your whole argument in favor of modelling (not to mention the scientists who helped establish it; Tukey (American), Pareto, Dunnett, etc.). If the butterfly flapping its wings is a major point of consideration in the model of the globe, then almost absolute knowledge is required to make even the simplest short-term predictions, let alone believing longer-term ones. And your bias toward American students and their ability to 'grasp the abstract' says more about how you profess (or just grade papers) than how you teach. Fine, your probably right, Americans in general don't get it. American Nobelaureate Thomas Schelling has no ideas pertinent to updating or revising the butterfly effect.

4)How about this, since they're already getting paid to do it, meteorologist/climatologists get a week 100% right for a year for a chunk of land the size of say, Illinois? Then we'll talk about they're predictions for next year. And after, say, 5-10 yrs. of these bang-on predictions, we'll start talking decades and centuries and actual nation and earth sized chunks of land.

Most of the students you've met? As an educator in economics in both the US and the Netherlands? Wow, that clearly justifies extrapolating to the whole of America. I'm noticing a trend.

BTW- The webster.com link was pretty funny, but, I'd rather you get the definition of GDP right in front of your students than worry about correcting me on the forums.


Well, while a butterfly in China is flapping its wings up, a butterfly in San Francisco is flapping its wings down, hence cancelling each other out.

Seriously, people believe this stuff? Okay, I just took a big shit an hour ago and its now off melting a glacier somewhere, I suppose?