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Near the village of Tuktoyaktuk
Mysterious pingos of Tuktoyaktuk threatened by rising sea levels
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Tuktoyaktuk: a community on the frontline of climate change

Emma Bocking

1st October, 2009

Canadian coastal communities are faced with rising sea levels as the government continues to support destructive tar sands mining

As the tar sands move forward, Canada's north is fighting the effects

The hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk on the northern coast of Canada is facing the steadily rising Arctic Ocean ­ at roughly the rate of 3mm per year, which may soon force the community to relocate further south.

It's the familiar Arctic vs. climate change issue: sea ice is forming later in the year and breaking up earlier in the spring, making hunting by snowmobile dangerous. 

The community's traditional way of life is changing forever.

Yet the Canadian government appears oblivious to the plight of communities like Tuktoyaktuk.

In the face of strong international opposition from environmental groups, Canada is continuing with the controversial Alberta tar sands development. According to Melina Laboucan-Massimo - tar sands, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada - the mining operation will transform an area of pristine boreal wilderness the size of England into toxic fields of tar and sludge, if allowed to continue unchecked.

Laboucan-Massimo believes that 'development of the tar sands is proof that first nations groups in Canada remain systematically oppressed. The Inuit of Tuktoyaktuk bear daily witness to the encroaching warmth of climate change, paying the price for the government's embarrassing commitment to this form of environmental destruction.'

Despite the ecological odds faced by the Inuit people of Tuktoyaktuk, they remain hopeful for the future. 

The community is now in the process of erecting wind turbines on the gusty shoreline through a government-run initiative. Two to four turbines should be operational by 2011, replacing 20 per cent of Tuktoyaktuk's current diesel power supply.

Tuk's mayor remains adamantly hopeful that the Arctic warming trend (temperatures have risen 2.5C in the last 40 years) is still reversible if everyone, including 'the southerners', does their part to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Find out more about the issues posed by the tar sands on Greenpeace Canada's web page here

To support the campaign to stop the tar sands click here


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