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    Report Shows Top Risks of Climate Change

    Courtesy of the Government of Canada

    The Council of Canadian Academies released a report titled 'Top Climate Change Risks' which highlighted 12 areas at major risk of damage from climate change. 

    The Council of Canadian Academies released a report titled 'Top Climate Change Risks' which highlighted 12 areas at major risk of damage from climate change. 

    The 12 areas are: agriculture and food, coastal communities, ecosystems, fisheries, forestry, geopolitical dynamics, governance and capacity, human health and wellness, Indigenous ways of life, northern communities, physical infrastructure, and water. These risks were chosen based on potential for damage and urgency. 

    The report describes steps to adapt to these risks and the priority of each risk.

    Dr. Bronwyn Hancock, Associate VP of Research Development at the Yukon College, says it's not too late, but the time to act is now "The thing that's really heartening is that we found that adaptation potential for lots of those risks, or our ability to reduce our vulnerability, or to be more resilient, is really high. So with the new adaptation action we can actually offset a lot of those risks. I think that's heartening but there's certainly urgency to act and there's certainly increasing impacts as a result of these risks, all across the country."

    The discussion of climate change has been increasing in the past months as many communities, including Whitehorse, have put forward motions, or discussed declaring a climate change emergency. The introduction of the Carbon Tax has also increased debates about the best way to handle the changing environment. 

    Studies surrounding permafrost thawing have also been frequent lately, with new evidence showing possibly devastating impacts of melting permafrost. On June 10th, 2019, a study from the University of Fairbanks Alaska showed permafrost melting 70 years earlier than expected and at a rate 240 times considered normal.

    When permafrost melts, it can release heat trapping gasses into the atmosphere like carbon dioxide and and methane. There is also the risk of flooding, erosion of infrastructure, and possibly even reanimation of diseases trapped in frozen organic matter. 

    Brian Horton, Manager of Northern Climate Exchange at the Yukon, says action is needed when it comes to thawing permafrost. "Permafrost is certainly affecting infrastructure, and it's affecting landscapes all around Yukon, N.W.T. and into Nunavut. So we've been working with communities and with highways, infrastructure, managers, engineers, trying to understand just how much the permafrost is changing, and to propose measures to help."

    The next few years will prove crucial to the outcome of our environment in regards to climate change. The goal of the report is to outline the next steps to take and how to adapt to our shifting climate. 

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