Last week I spoke with Chris Burn, a Northern studies professor at Carleton University, about how the number of landslides in the NWT has been increasing since the 1990s.
For example, in September 2009, 25 landslides were recorded near Reindeer Station, and in 2017, approximately 80 landslides were recorded in the same place.
That’s a huge increase, but luckily, the landslides rarely occur in places where they affect human developments, so the landslides themselves aren’t a huge concern.
But the cause of landslides – climate change –is everyone’s concern.
Burn told me that in the 1960s, the average temperature in Inuvik was -9.5C, but in the 2010s the average has been approximately -6.5C. In 2017, it was -4.5C, which was the second-warmest year ever recorded in Inuvik.
Burn emphasized that we’ve all known about climate change for quite some time, but no one is doing anything about it on a large enough scale to change anything.
While many people believe that climate change is an issue for government leaders to solve, Burn pointed out that there are many more individual people than there are government leaders. So, it’s really up to individual people to make lifestyle changes to reduce climate change.
However, as Burn also told me, it is very difficult for individuals to believe that any actions they take could possibly make a difference on a global scale.
And it’s true – if only one person chooses walking over driving when possible, or chooses to use re-usable bags instead of plastic ones, or composts instead of throwing away food waste, then yes, nothing will change.
But if we all make small changes every day with the environment in mind, we could potentially start to see some changes.
I’m not saying I’m perfect. Half the time, I forget to bring my reusable bag to the grocery store that I drove my gasoline-fueled vehicle to.
I’m just saying that we all have a responsibility to think critically about how our actions are affecting the planet and do our best to do what is best for the planet.
This week, Inuvik was chosen by Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST) as one of its best-in-class communities to participate in a smart energy communities scorecard initiative.
What this essentially means is that the Town of Inuvik and QUEST will be working together to figure out ways to make sure the town is using energy as efficiently as possible.
It is no secret that one of Inuvik’s biggest energy challenges is its reliance on natural gas for heat.
When I spoke with the mayor, he pointed out that while this is an issue for the community at large, many individuals in town are doing their part to use alternative sources of heat for their homes, such as wood furnaces.
That’s not a feasible option for everyone, but there are a lot of actions people can take to increase their energy efficiency in their homes, such as ensuring they have properly insulated walls, good windows, and that their heating systems are operating properly.
There are many ways to do your part.