While I was covering an assignment last week, I decided to enjoy the not -30 C weather and walk to my destination. When I got there, I noticed there were two unhitched semi-trucks parked in between the professional building and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation building. Neither vehicle had a driver in them, both bore Yukon plates, and both were running unattended.
I went in to cover the story. When I came back out, a solid half-hour later, the two trucks were still sitting there, idling away.
There’s a good probability whomever drove these trucks from the Yukon is also from the Yukon themselves, and when they’re done whatever work it is they are here to do they will likely take their earnings back to the Yukon.
I’m singling these two anonymously driven vehicles out, but in the two-and-a-half years I’ve been reporting in this area I’ve noticed idling vehicles are fairly common.
This is a serious problem in a region where literally everyone should know better.
I’m not suggesting anyone sit in their car and freeze in -20 C weather or die of heatstroke when the mercury clears 25 C — these are perfectly reasonable times to leave your engine running.
But right now, when birds are coming out of hiding, snow is melting and we’re ditching our parkas? No way.
We frequently cover the ongoing problems the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk is experiencing with coastal erosion, a direct result of climate change. The ground is crumbling away beneath people’s homes. Entire tracts of land are disappearing and the best-case scenario projections have the entire region under water by 2050. To try and buy the community some time to figure out a sensible relocation plan, the federal government has approved a $50 million coastal rehabilitation project.
To put it another way, because no action was taken on climate change for decades, taxpayers are now on the hook for the damages caused by the ongoing neglect. But regardless of your concerns over government spending, the reality is that people are losing their homes through no fault of their own.
Climate change, as the science has thoroughly settled, is caused by our industrial activities — predominantly the carbon we take out of the ground and put in the air.
All this is now common knowledge — even those who subscribe to goofy conspiracy theories about foreign funded environmental movements have given up trying to speculate an alternate explanation for why we’re seeing ice caps melt, widespread droughts and once-a-century forest fires annually.
Just as cigarette companies cannot deny their product causes cancer, the fossil fuel industry cannot deny burning fossil fuels will have the direct result of destroying Tuktoyaktuk — as well as many other largely unindustrialized places on this planet.
You can turn your vehicle off when entering a store, or having a meeting, or eating dinner or whatever else you need to drive to. In fact, with the price of gas as high as it is right now, it will likely save you money. A lot of it.
As critical as climate management is for our generation, for the next one it will be tenfold. We need to set a good example for the youth: turn off your engines.