Warmer winters, earlier springs and hotter summers, will diminish mountain snow pack that has traditionally provided moisture to lower elevations.
The cover of “TIME” Magazine for April 3rd, 2006 says “BE WORRIED. BE VERY WORRIED. Climate change isn’t some vague future problem – it’s already damaging the planet at an alarming pace.” There follow some extremely thought provoking articles that map out where the future will lead us, if we do not treat this problem seriously and soon. For example, scientists predict that at the present rate of accelerating increase, Global annual average temperatures will rise from 13.77°C (56.79°F) in 1880 to as high as 19°C (66°F) by the year 2100. One article states “People, animals and plants living in dry, mountainous regions like the western U.S. make it through summer thanks to snowpack that collects on peaks all winter and slowly melts off in warm months. Lately the early arrival of spring and the unusually blistering summers have caused the snowpack to melt too early, so that by the time it’s needed, it’s largely gone. Climatologist Philip Mote of the University of Washington has compared decades of snowpack in Washington, Oregon and California and found that they are a fraction of what they were in the 1940’s, and some snowpacks have vanished entirely”.
One spokesperson for Environment Canada, however, recently implied that Global Warming could actually prove beneficial for Canada, in that growing seasons will lengthen and southern agricultural crops will be able to grow further north. That may be true in the short term. However, unless this statement was taken out of context, that person seriously erred by not including the projected long-term effects, which would include such devastating consequences as prolonged drought, loss of surface and ground source water, loss of traditional plant and animal organisms, many of which will become extinct, and serious exacerbation of the water shortages already being experienced in southern areas. Government agencies must be careful to ensure that they present all the facts when making public statements.
Some people will put forward the argument that since the Arctic Icecap is melting at an accelerating rate, diverting Arctic rivers to the south will not be harmful to the Arctic salinity balance, since the additional fresh water from the icecap will offset the loss of incoming river flow. In other words, they would have us believe that Global Warming will offset diversions to the United States, or that “2 wrongs DO make a right”. While that argument may seem valid superficially, if we look to the end point – we will have no ice cap and we will have no Arctic rivers! Therefore, “2 wrongs DO NOT make a right”. Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing philosophy among Canadians that we should be learning how to adapt to Global Warming rather than committing to reversing it, since “it doesn’t seem likely that we will be able to do much about it”. How like we Canadians – to accept the “inevitable”!
All this points to the fact that Global Warming will cause the United States to exert even greater pressure on Canada to divert Arctic waters from the North Slope to drought-stricken areas of the American south. The time for Canada to take charge of her “Threatened Arctic Waters” is now.