Climate Change

Climate change in the north is increasing at an alarming rate, occurring faster than in any other region of the world.  The Dene are deeply concerned for the well being of future descendants’ coexistence with the land.  Adaptation can be achieved by working closely with other governments and organizations to reduce impacts.

Concerns to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are:

  • Thawing of permafrost and land instability
  • Advance melting of snow and ice cover in the spring
  • Earlier break-up and later freeze-up of river and lake ice
  • Declining wildlife habitats, wetlands and nesting sites and influx of invasive species
  • Shorter winter road seasons
  • Increase in summer storms
  • Increase in forrest fires
  • Degradation of sea ice and negative impacts for ice dependent species
  • Longer periods of open water and more storms reaching the shore
  • Increase in environmental contaminants and persistent organic pollutants
  • Health and cultural impacts due to a decreased ability to harvest traditional foods

Climate change impacts are happening to a greater degree and faster than scientists anticipated. Impacts are likely to be irregular and sudden, rather than following a smooth progression from one state to another. Rapid climate change in the north means greater vulnerability to impacts. While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is important, adaptation is the most effective way to cope with climate change. Adaptation plans should be regional in nature to best respond to local climate variations. Along with western science, traditional knowledge is a necessity and must be taken seriously to help the Dene and fellow northerners adapt to climate change.