Monday, September 06, 2004

Questions for Bush, During the Debates

What will you do if it turns out that global climate change is real, and we have catastrophic changes here in the United States of America?  Will you issue a public apology?  What regulatory changes will you propose, in order to repair the environmental damage?  What will you do to repair the damage to the country's economy?

Those of you who still are skeptical should read this article:

Eskimos Fret as Climate Shifts and Wildlife Changes
Published: September 6, 2004

PANGNIRTUNG, Nunavut - At age 85, Inusiq Nasalik has seen some changes in his day.

Born in an old whaling settlement, he lived in igloos and sod houses as a child and drove a dog team to hunt on the tundra through much of his life. Now he lives in a comfortable house with a plush sofa in his living room, a Westinghouse range and microwave oven in his modern kitchen and a big stereo to play his favorite old Eskimo songs.

Life is good for him, he says, but he is worried about the changes he sees in the wildlife that surrounds this hamlet on the shores of an icy glacier fiord just below the Arctic circle.

He says the caribou are skinny, and so are the ringed seals, whose fur has become thin and patchy. The Arctic char that swim in local streams are covered with scratches, apparently from sharp rocks in waters that are becoming shallower because of climactic shifts. The beluga whales and seals do not come around Pangnirtung fiord as much anymore, perhaps because increased motorboat traffic is making too much noise. [...]

Scientists say the problems Mr. Nasalik observes result from climate change and the gradual increase in contaminants like pesticides and industrial compounds like mercury and PCB's that are transported by wind and currents from the industrialized south and accumulate in the fatty tissues of Arctic animals. The people who eat such animals are also affected, and high levels of contaminants have been found in the breast milk of Eskimo women. [...]

Arctic char, caribou and ringed seal are showing abnormally hard livers, according to a draft of the report that is to be released in September. Caribou have worms in their muscles and between their joints. The fat in Beluga whales is changing color. Hunters across the eastern Canadian Arctic are reporting that an increasing number of polar bears look emaciated, probably because their hunting season has been shortened by the shrinking ice cover. [...]

For Paulusie Veevee, a 75, an elder who started hunting with his grandfather when he was 10, the greatest tragedy of all is the changing habitat for the seals that depend on the ice for reproduction.

"The seals have their pups in dens on the ice," Mr. Veevee noted. "If there isn't enough ice, where will they have their babies - on land? That's the question I ask myself."