Yearly Archives: 2009

Some thoughts on reading and writing…

Napatsi Folger

I thought that I would change up my blog a little this week. I’ve focused a lot on environmental issues and broad social topics for the most part, but today I would like to post something a little more personal. I’ve recently started to write a children’s book. It has been difficult, but I’m finally starting to feel proud and excited about it. My children’s book is about growing up in a small northern community – Apex. It has got me thinking about writers in general. I never though of myself as a writer. I left that to the really talented writers in my family, but when my friend asked me to contribute to benefit the children of Nunavut by producing some literature that was pertinent to their lives and available in Inuktitut, and to give southern children a window into Arctic life,how could I say no? But the reason that I decided to write this post today isn’t to talk aboutmy book, it’s to talk about writing in general as a great outlet. And reading as well. Literacy is such a privilege, and it makes me sad to see how limited peoples lives are, who never learned how to read or write. I have family who are illiterate and it’s so difficult for me to undersand how they carry on everyday in utter confusion with all of the text that we encounter throughout our lives.

I, as a dyslexic person, have always struggled with my love of stories and the difficulty I had with reading them. So it took me a long time to really find a book that inspired me. I liked a few books here and there in school,some noteables (in chronological order) are: The Lorax, The Chronicles of Narnia,  A Wrinkle in Time, The Rats of Nimh, Out of the Silent Planet, Catcher and the Rye. But it wasn’t until my second year of college that I really related to an author and was amazed that I was so affected by a book. The book was Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson. I was taking a Canadian Literature English course and this book wason our reading list. Its a story about a Haisla girl growingup in her aboriginal community in the 80s and 90s. Although it wasn’t set in the Arctic, the parallels were close enough for me to be able to relate some of my experiences as a young aboriginal woman. This book ignited my thirst to become an avid reader, something I had never been motivated to do before. Robinson also has other books,Traplines which is a collection of short stories, and her newest book Blood Sports, which I have not finished reading, but is about the difficulties of ex-junkies trying to clean up their lives in East Vancouver.

I’ve also lately started to read Sherman Alexie’s blog at www.shermanalexie.com and I really like it. My brother (an exceptional writer and artist) has always liked Alexie’s books and I only recently decided to read some of his stuff, starting with his blog. His latest book War Dances has just come out. I plan on picking it up soon. Anyway, as usual my point is lost in many tangents. What I wanted to say, is that it took me 26 years to realize how much strength you can gain through reading and writing. Not only intellectual, but emotional as well. As I said, I never considered myself a writer because I was surrounded by such talent and I had other, stronger skills, but I am and always will be a story teller. From telling ghost stories in the abandoned blue building beside the IODE Hall in Apex, to the strange stories I would write and then read to my friends at lunch in high school. I remember being particularly proud of one story, and so I readan excerpt of it to my dad. He asked if he could read it and I hesitated and said it was more for my friends and then he said “there’s sex in it isn’t there?” I was embarrassed but admitted there was a little making out, and he waved me off to bed.

Writing is a great outlet, and I’m writing now to encourage all you young northerners to try it. We need people to understand our perspective. We want people to hear what we have to say, so say it already! I’m sure most of you got bored about two paragraphs ago, but even if you don’t want to show the world your perspective, try it just to let out some feelings. You don’t need to show anyone ever. Just write. I’ve written a lot of crap when I’ve been down and out, and it helped. It didn’t cure me of my depression at the time, it wasn’t award winning prose, but going back and reading how awful I felt always gave me perspective and made me think “at least I don’t feel like THAT anymore.” And I could move on to the next day. And when I couldn’t write, I could always escape into another world for a while in a good book.What an amazing talent literacy is! Man this post felt good.

“The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.”

~Sherman Alexie

 

Arctic Future Newsletter

Napatsi Folger

Hey guys our latest issue of the Arctic Future Newsletter has been posted! Please check it out http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2009/arctic_future_nov_2009.pdf. In honour of this months UNFCCC COP 15 the theme of the newsletter is climate change. If you haven’t seen one of our newsletters before, it is a newsletter put out by the Circumpolar Young Leaders Program Interns twice a year, with article contributions from other youth as well. this is a great issue, and has lost of interesting articles, including one on the Alberta tar sands, and on they cryosphere! Let us know what you think after you’ve checked it out!

Enjoy.

 

Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum February 2010

Napatsi Folger

On February 5th, 2010, in partnership with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Fort Whyte Alive, Climate Change Connections, and the Canadian Forces, ‘Schools on
Board’ and Kelvin High School will co-host the third Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum, in conjunction with the IPY-CFL Gala event planned as the opening night of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival. This event will be held at the Fort Whyte Alive outdoor education center in Winnipeg.

The aim of the forum is to introduce high school students (grade 9-12) and teachers to the sciences behind Arctic climate change research and engage youth in the discussions on the role of science in policy and decision making. This year our forum will integrate the theme of music and science in recognition of the Artist on Board program of the IPY-CFL program and the outcomes produced by this initiative.

Features of the forum will include:
* “Global and Arctic Climate Change”: a keynote presentation by Dr. David Barber (University of Manitoba) – Canadian Research Chair for Arctic System Sciences and
Project lead of the IPY-CFL study.

* Hands-on sessions led by scientists from various universities and research institutions – simulating fieldwork activities of the IPY-CFL study on frozen lakes and outdoor spaces at Fort Whyte Alive (techniques used to sample snow, ice, water, sediment, atmosphere).

* “Inuit observations of climate change in the Arctic – a youth’s perspective” – a keynote presentation by an Inuit youth from a Canadian Arctic community

* Sessions on music and science, Inuit throat singing, and communicating science through art and music

* Outdoor environmental education sessions with a focus on sustainable living, and climate change

* Sessions for teachers to assist them in integrating climate change education and research into their science programs.

* Breakout discussion sessions in the afternoon
* ….and much more!

Registration for this event is limited to 250 students and teachers. For this reason, schools are being invited to send up to 10 participants (8 students:2teachers). If spaces are available after the registration deadline passes, they will become available on a
first-come basis.

The student organizing committee of Kelvin High School invites you to visit their website:
www.wsd1.org/kevin/accyf
More detailed information on specific sessions will be available in the new year.

Mark you calendar, and join us for this very unique educational experience.

 

COP 15 – Amy Thompson

Hi all, myname is Amy Thompson, a Gwich’in participant from Inuvik, NWT. I am one of three Youth Advisors for the Canadian Advisory Committee for the Arctic Council (ACAC) and I represent the Gwich’in Counci International. I arrived in Copenhagen on December 7th for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) COP15 negotiations. My role is to network with youth and others to promote the work of the Arctic Council and the Gwich’in Council International. I accomplish this by meeting youth at presentations, press briefings and other side events at the convention center. Idistribute information pamphlets and brochures to anyone interested on the Arctic Council and Youth Matters. I also attend and network at the Arctic World Widlife Foundation (WWF) tent which is located in downtown Copenhagen. This tent is open for the first week of Cop15 and has daily themes. For example, December 8th was Indigenous Peoples Day and included presentations from local leaders and youth performances. There was also a Youth Day and a Arts and Culture Day. During the Youth Day, there were presentations from the Canadian Youth Delegation on their work as well as Students on Ice. I was able to attend the last couple presentations for this day. At the convention center, today is “Young and Future Generations Day” as well so there are many presentations from youth promoting their positionson climate change and related issues. The theme of the day is to give recognition to youth and future generations thatdemand a fair and ambitious international deal to solve the climate crisis (“Don’t leave youth in the cold”). So, my day (so far) has been composed of attending as many of these presenations as possible. Sandi Vincent, one of the other Youth Advisors for the ACAC that represents the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) is scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen this morning and I plan to meet up with her and see how we can network together to accomplish further outreach. Please feel free to blog if you are interested in more updates or more information.

 

COP 15 Day 2 – Sandi Vincent

Sandi Vincent is a Youth Advisor on the Canadian Advisory Committee to the Arctic Council

COP 15 – Day 2

It already feels like I’ve been here for a week.

I made my way downtown to attend the Indigenous Day events at the National Museum and ICC’s executive council meeting, and thought I would start off telling you about CPH travel.

There are bikes EVERYWHERE. It seems people only bike, walk or take public transportation. There is the train, bus and metro and luckily enough the Danish government organized it so all people registered for the event have a travel pass on all three types of public transport. You never have to wait very long, 2 minutes at most for your bus (or whatever). And there are bike paths between the road and side walks for all the bike commuters. I was speaking with someone about the cars here, because of course there are some, but not nearly as many as I would have guessed there to be. I guess they are really expensive and heavily taxed, and gas is expensive, and parking is a nightmare and this and that – and with so such great public transit and bicycle lanes who needs a car? I think this is really great.

I see in Nunatsiaq the headline “Inuit leaders at odds over oil and gas emissions”. I thought I would share my thoughts:

Inuit Circumpolar Council is the international indigenous organization that represents Inuit. There is ICC Alaska, ICC Canada, ICC Greenland and ICC Russia. Those are 4 separate countries, with different interests, perspectives and ideas. Pick any 4 countries and they would have different views on almost anything. These four countries have independent positions on resource development, but ICC as an organization has a common voice: Inuit have the right to develop resources, land claims protect these rights, Inuit have the right to self determination and resource development must be done in a sustainable and responsible manner.

When the NLCA was created the agreement in principle was signed April 1, 1993 (feel free to correct me/add more info) and the next 6 years was spent divvying up Crown Land and Inuit Owned Land. Both sides had experts and did research and all that jazz to pick land. (I would really love it if someone would comment on this and share some more information). It took 30 years of negotiations to get the NLCA, for Inuit to protect our right to self-determination. Alaskan, Greenlandic, Russian and Canadian Inuit don’t have to have to be going in the same direction. Inuit have the right to decide what direction they choose to go.

Inuit agree that if there is resource development, it must be done in a sustainable and responsible manner. I’m not sure I need to share much more than this. I would encourage people to look at ICCs call to action. highlights:

Ratify a post-2012 (when the Kyoto protocol expires) agreement

Recognize the impacts of climate change on Inuit

Help Inuit adapt to climate change (international climate change adaptation fund)

Recognize the vulnerability of Inuit and other indigenous peoples (adopt an adaptation assistance mechanism – including communities in developed nations!)

Help Inuit participate/benefit from development of green technology

Also continuing thoughts on with my thoughts on Inuit leaders at odds…. Government people, Non-governmental organization people, environmental/cultural/rights activists – different people representing different views, different mandates, different goals, trying to benefit people in different ways. It’s like the GN having a different view than NTI, which has a different view than your social studies teacher because they are different; having different ideas of what would benefit you.

I think it would be of greater benefit to Inuit, Nunavummiut and northers to find the common thread. I think right now in negotiations it isn’t even recognized that people dependent on ice and snow are vulnerable to climate change!

 

COP 15 Day 1 – Sandi Vincent

Sandi Vincent is a Youth Advisor for the Canadian Advisory Committee to the Arctic Council

COP 15 – Day 1

What a crazy/interesting/fantastic day.

I’ll go through it with you, sharing who I met so you have an idea of the many different (northern/indigenous/youth) groups in attendance.

I found my way to the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, the center of COP15 the morning of December 11. I waited in line to register as an ICC non-governmental delegate. Apparently my wait wasn’t too long compared to day before, where some delegates waited over 4 hours! While in line I watched as people poured into the center. So many different nationalities, ages, groups; all kinds of people – it seems to me that there is every type of person here. I’ve heard a few numbers, but I believe there are 25 000 people in attendance, over 1000 of them youth. I connected with the youth I knew right away.

I found Amy Thompson, a fellow Canadian Youth Advisor who is affiliated with the Northwest Territories and Gwitchin Council International, first. We picked up some food from the climate kitchen and sat down to catch up, Amy has been here for almost a week and today was her last day.

There is an area with seats and plugs, and free wi-fi through out the building. This is where I stumbled up youth from the Canadian Youth Delegation – Janice Grey of Nunavik and Ashley Tufts also from Iqaluit (we go way back – I’m talking high school). They are 2 of about 60 youth from Canada here at this global climate event.

I met with Kari Hergott, on the climate youth network delegation. We attended both the Inuvik summit this past August (with 60 other young leaders from Canada) and Power Shift in Ottawa (bringing together over 1000 Canadian youth to demand Canada be a leader at these negotiations). Kari was with Bridget Laroque of Gwitchin Council International, whom I know through the Arctic Council events I have attended.

Pam Gross made her way over to us. She is here with a participatory video project, 6 countries from around the world were selected to create video projects about climate change – Cambridge Bay, Canada; the Philippines; Panama; Kenya and one more.

I walked around the Bella center getting familiarized with where things are and what to do. I found the room where every morning Canadians are briefed about the negotiations. I found where to get a daily program, which has the events and activities (workshops/lectures) listed and the corrosponding rooms and halls. There is a room for the Indigenous caucaus to be briefed. There is a press section. There is everything you need or can think of. The Bella Center is HUGE and FILLED with people. It was hard not watching all the different people around. I could never tell what languages I was around there were so many!

Amy and I did an interview with Jane George of Nunatsiaq News.www.nunatsiaq.com– it is already in the papers and I only just got home! We talked about our youth delegation, the Arctic Council, what Amy has done and what I plan to do my week here.

We took the metro to downtown and walked along a lengthy pedestrian road toward the WWF’s Arctic Tent. I was very glad to see that sealskin is so normal, fashionable and beautiful here. We saw women keeping warm in sealskin coats, we saw them in the trendy shop windows. Every store along the pathway was a clothing shop or a cafe. Oh, back to the Arctic Tent – there was a gentleman speaker presenting a very powerful, understandable climate slide show. I can’t do it justice, but I will share with you my thoughts on something he said “when my children are grown up and ask me ‘Dad, what did you do?’.I have a favorite quote “Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are”.

Global leaders are here, people from all over the world have come together. We have the knowledge of what is happening, of how climate change is affecting lives and the environment in the Arctic, in small island nations, in sub-saharan countries – over the entire globe. We have the proof of what could happen in the future. ‘What you can, with what you have, where you are’. We are here in Copenhagen, we have knowledge, what will we do?

After the ‘2 degrees = 2 much’ type presentation, Jesse Tungalik gets up to make a presentation. Jesse is interning here in Copenhagen with the Circumpolar Young Leaders Program, working at the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (part of the Arctic Council). He gives us a background on Students on Ice and introduces a film on the program.

Emily Karpik is in attendance, she is chaperoning 5 youth from Pang. They are here to share their climate change projects, film and photography I believe. Pam, Emily and I meet with Patricia Bell of CBC north.

Outside of the tent Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Patricia Cochrane take photos with the youth from Pang and the rest of the delegation. There are also youth from Greenland and Russia who make up the rest of the group. Sheila Watt-Cloutier is very powerful and eloquent speaker, a Canadian Inuk activist who was nominated last year for the Nobel Peace Prize. Patricia Cochrane recently stepped down as the Chair for the Inuit Circumpolar Council (Jimmy Stotts is now in that position). Both are very great role models. Strong Inuk women taking charge (Other women who come to mind are Premier Aariak – who will be attending soon, and Federal Health Minister Aglukkark).

Outside of the Arctic Tent I took pictures of the ice bear. There was a polar bear made out of ice on display, and it has slowly (or not so slowly) been melting. You can see the skeleton where the ice has disappeared. Great visual display.

After the Arctic Tent Pam and I discover more of downtown before we had a nice birthday dinner. I made a wish as the sparkler on my tiramasu went out.

 

Hope and Resilience in Suicide Prevention Seminar Nuuk, Greenland Nov. 7-8 2009

Napatsi Folger

The Hope and Resilience in Suicide Prevention Seminar was held in Nuuk, Greenland from November 7-8, 2009. The seminar was broken down into two groups, the main group and a youth group. The two groups were together for the evening meet and greet and the opening of the seminar on the morning of November 7, but then separated for the rest of the seminar until the panel discussions on the final day.

The main group watched several presentations by representatives from, Norway, Alaska, Nunavut, and Greenland, before starting the workshops in the afternoon. The commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services for Alaska, William Hogan noted that major contributing factors for suicide in Alaska include substance abuse (predominantly alcohol) and mental health issues. Other factors that affect Alaskans are the fact that there are extremely high unemployment rates, isolated communities, and easy access to guns and alcohol. The best solutions come from the community where people know what they need.

Another presenter from Alaska had noted that Aboriginal communities in Canada and the United States were particularly affected by residential schools because it created a generation of people who never learned proper parenting skills. They were pulled from their family at a young age and brought up without learning their traditional values, languages, and away from the affection of their family, in an often abusive environment. This also caused vicarious trauma because the dysfunction is carried on throughout their lives into the lives of their children.

There is little knowledge of the scientific evidence base. People show a tendency to try to find one root cause for a suicide, like a break up, or fight, but more often than not, suicide is an amalgamation of many issues. What needs to happen is that people need to start looking at where things are getting better, and why. What is working? Focusing on the negative doesn’t help, especially with prevention programs. The Embrace Life Council of Nunavut takes a life affirming approach as opposed to a suicide preventions approach. They aim to improve wellbeing in the community. Everybody has to struggle in life at one time or another, and they teach people coping skills. People are less likely to seek help from a suicide intervention hotline or group than they are to find help with people close to them, like teachers, family or friends. How can we better equip front line people like teachers and community counselors to deal with situations where suicidal people are reaching out to them? And how do we ensure that those same people are supported enough that they do not burn out and leave the profession or community because of the stress of these highly emotional and stressful situations?

Jack Hicks, a PhD student from Nunavut, stated that Western medicine and practices aren’t necessarily failing in the Arctic. You can’t prove that something is a failure, if all you have ever experienced is a low quality version of that system. Western practices might very well work in the Arctic, but until high quality services are offered, consistently, and keeping up with demand, it is not accurate to say that they are a failure. People are too willing to give up on things that don’t work right away, but not able to see that sometimes you need to try the same thing a few times to work out the problems. He also noted that Aboriginal suicide isn’t as unique as so many people like to claim. It is possible to learn from other research and we should not waste our time and resources doing research that has already been done somewhere else. We need to collaborate and share findings so that we can have a better understanding of what solutions we can find to help our communities maintain healthy populations.

Members of the Association for Greenlandic Children believe that trying to encourage young people to have trust in themselves to ensure that they are strong enough to fight the impulse to commit suicide in the future is key. They run a program outside of school for young children to feel safe, and comfortable, where they learn to be more independent and how to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. The program has mentors and they make a point not to direct the children but to let them have more self-directed learning. The environment is meant to build the children’s confidence and to establish trust. They also encourage children to continue on in school after their mandatory years are over, because currently less than 50% of Greenlandic students move on to post secondary.

On the last day there were two panel discussions. The first was between Arctic youth representatives and policy makers. It was interesting to have policy makers and researchers questioning young people on what they felt the issues were in their communities, and to hear what each person valued as useful in suicide prevention. A young Inuk representative from Nunavut, talked about one reason that suicide in young males in Nunavut may be more common than other demographics. Traditionally, sons were treated with very high respect and adoration because their role as hunters was so important to the community. Girls were generally not idolized like boys. Since modern communities no longer rely solely on hunters to provide food, Inuit men have lost their sense of importance and identity within their own communities. There are no longer defined roles for Inuit men and women. The youth were pleased to have the opportunity to have their point of view heard by researchers and policy makers, and had a lot of insight to offer from their different communities.

The last plenary session for the seminar was set to be recommendations and conclusion, but we changed course a little because of time constrictions during earlier workshops. A report given by professor Kue Young and professor Peter Bjerregaard to the Sustainable Development Working Group of the Arctic Council, which was well received. A very honest comment was made during the final discussion, that although our recommendations were excellent and important, the Arctic Council does have a process and realistically, would probably not be able to make any significant policy changes or take action on the recommendations for at least two years. This was followed with a statement about how important it is for each participant to take action and move things forward with their own initiatives because suicide prevention needs both short term and long term action to be effective.

The points about suicide prevention that the group agreed on were:

  • Governments can provide support and resources but it is ultimately up to the community to come up with the right solutions that will work for them.
  • Policies and programs need to be developed to prepare frontline people like school staff, mentors, community leaders, and counselors to deal with suicide related issues, because they are ultimately the people with cry out to, if they are looking for support.
  • We also need to provide enough support to those frontline workers so that they do not burn out, leave the professions they are in, or even leave their community.
  • We need to collaborate and share findings so that we can have a better understanding of what solutions we can find to help our communities maintain healthy populations.
  • The root of the problem is complex, and to really make a difference in suicide prevention, people have to work on preventing the sources which are frequently related to, childhood abuse, substance abuse, and emotional isolation.
  • Improving health and education systems will ultimately lower suicide rates. When people are informed and supported, the chance of successful suicide is greatly decreased.
 

Featured Leader: Aloka Wijesooriya

Aloka Wijesooriya lives in a place that people from all over the world dream of visiting: the North. She lives in the capital, Iqaluit, of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut. Aloka has lived in the North for most of her life. Prior to living in Nunavut, she lived in Ontario.

She has spent most of her school years in Iqaluit and says, “Iqaluit was not my first pick on where to live, but once I started meeting new people and becoming familiar with my surroundings, I fell in love with the North!” Although she had her reservations about moving up North, her perseverance to settle into a new atmosphere helped her become an accomplished and well-known youth in her community. She loves the peaceful environment of the tundra and the small population of her home. They enable a close-knit sense of community.

Aloka started her schooling at Joamie Elementary School and is now a grade 11 student at Inuksuk High School. She is a proud speed skater and a dedicated volunteer in her community. She plans to attend university after completing high school, to pursue a career in the sciences.

Aloka is proud of her accomplishments, which include taking part in basketball and speed skating. As a basketball player she has won MVP two times, and she has received participation ribbons for speed-skating competitions. Through Skills Canada she has learned many different trades, such as baking, cooking and prepared speech. Skills Canada Nunavut is a program that provides venues for young people to explore the many opportunities available in skilled trades and technology careers. In partnership with private and public sector partners, the organization is helping address the North’s need for a skilled workforce.

Aloka feels that her extracurricular activities have taken her further as a person. She performs violin and flute recitals publically and has acted in two musicals, allowing her to experience theatre life first-hand. Along with her musical talents, she has won her school’s Gillis Award for best painting. She is also a very active member of her community and has volunteered in several groups, both in and outside of school, including:

  • Environment Club
  • Student Council
  • YOUCAN (conflict resolution group)
  • Y.E.A.H North! (Youth Educating About Health-sexual and mental health information for teens)
  • Skills Canada Nunavut
  • Kamatsiaqtut Help Line

She has also contributed to the community through participating in sport tournaments, coaching speed skating, serving as a junior instructor at music camp and working on the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line, among other activities. Her volunteering has earned her the honour of the Canada Day Youth Award for Nunavut for two consecutive years.

Aloka has taken the environment, people and culture of her hometown to heart. She calls Iqaluit the “true North strong and free!” Her passion for the North is one of the things she hopes will rub off on other people who live in Nunavut and abroad.

Aloka says that her drive is inspired by Brian Tracy’s words: “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.” She would like to see youth take the lead in letting people in the south let go of their misconceptions of the Arctic and see it from a Northern perspective.

 

Elizabeth Zarpa’s opinion on “Copenhagen heating up for COP 15”

elizabeth_zarpa

Climate change just like anything else that is exploited by the media is a big issue. Whether the media emphasizes the indigenous rights movements in Canada, the fight on terrorism, swine flu, climate change and other aspects of reality what ever is being emphasized becomes a bigger deal largely because everyone is exposed to it through media.

But, climate change is something that is not just happening because it is written in news articles, broadcasted by large multi-million dollar newscasts, but also because I am experiencing it first hand. The season’s are coming later now and there is rain and high temperatures in late November and early December, whereas before there was too much snow that I could not even go outside without my winter boot’s. The seasons are changing at a different speed than what I am used to.

I realize that change is not comfortable for me and probablynotcomfortable for others to experience. Whether it is a change in music, clothing, food, lifestyle, etc these changes are largely dependent upon the choices I make about change. But, climate change is different. Is there a way that I can stop the climate from changing? Or is it only possible that I can slow it down? Why do I want to slow it down if it is warming up? Change is a natural process throughout a human’s life and throughout earth’s ecosystem, so why fret about it?

Why fear mountains in the distance? Well, let me express this point that I believe is important. If I were living on an island and then I realized that the water levels were immensely increasing and my land, house and home would soon disappear underneath the ocean waters, then would it be mountains in the distance? No, it would be reality. This experience would not only put me in a large panic to save my land, house and my home, but also I would scramble to save my life, forget about thinking about the future generations when I am nearly flooded by waters.

Is this where the world’s population will one day have to be in order to realize that the climate is changing and we need to slow it down? Or will our understanding of the climate and its changing patterns allow us to realize that we have the capacity, intelligence and the tools to develop realities that are helpful rather than destructive to the world’s population?

If we leave all these major decisions up to the leaders with political and economic power then I do not believe that we will experience the change that we scream for. Rather it is up to the individual, the regular Joe Blow on the city street to wake up and realize their potential to help create changes. Before we become an island state in the middle of a rising ocean regretting our past choices because we did not listen to the realities of our consequences that we knew would occur if we persisted with this lifestyle.

I say, don’t leave it all up to the leader’s to make your choices about climate change. I say it is time you start making your own choices about climate change, rather than depending upon other’s to make the right choices for you.

Thank you for your time,
Elizabeth Zarpa

 

Copenhagen heating up for COP 15

Jesse Tungilik

Electricity is in the air in Copenhagen in anticipation for what some are calling the most important diplomatic gathering in human history. The 15th Conference of the Parties on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will kick off in the Danish capital in less than a week.

17 years have passed since the Earth Summit (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and opinions today seem to be as polarized as ever. The four assessments by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change have not managed to convince the deeply entrenched skeptics and deniers of Anthropogenic climate change.

The climate debate has been raging for most of my life, and has escalated throughout my adult life. Having grown up in the Canadian Arctic and traveled to other areas of the world which have been negatively impacted by the changing climate, I find it hard to comprehend that there are still people out there that are still unconvinced that our actions are having adverse effects on the planet. The effects of the altered climate are already being seen.

On top of this, Indigenous peoples around the world are being disproportionately affected by exploitation of raw resources and are already bearing the lion's share of the burdens of the first effects of the changing climate.Through my work with the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples Secretariat, I have been learning more about how Indigenous peoples in the Arctic are being affected by climate change.

Business as usual is not an option. The climate crisis is a symptom of a broader problem of exploitation and disparity. The earth is ultimately a finite system and we are affecting the earth's ability to sustain life. This fact isn't being taken as seriously as it should by those in power.

So what are the solutions to this crisis? It seems that the most popular solution put forth by politicians are “cap & trade” schemes. Though I think it's a step in the right direction, I don't think it goes far enough, and there are too many loopholes which polluters can use to keep polluting. Also, it acts as a dangerous distraction to more robust action.

Humanity is approaching a defining moment in history. Humans have so far been bad tenants on this earth and the negotiations that come out of COP15 to me will either be a new lease agreement defining how we will behave on this planet, or it will be yet another dangerous distraction.

We will soon see what will come out of COP15. I remain cautiously optimistic that the leaders around the world will wake up and start to take this problem seriously, but I acknowledge that there are many powerful forces that would prefer that things stay the way they are. For the sake of future generations, I hope they will make the right decision.