Saving calls for Canada’s melting Arctic

The escalating trend of “last chance tourism” in Canada’s melting Arctic is sparking a conflict between environmental concerns and the economic needs of local communities facing the challenges of disappearing ice. Pond Inlet, a predominantly Inuit village in Nunavut, witnessed around 3,000 tourists in 2023, each paying approximately $15,000 to visit on one of the 25 cruise ships that docked in the village harbor. The influx of tourists provides a vital source of income for residents, particularly as traditional activities like hunting sea mammals and fishing become more difficult due to changing environmental conditions.

The warmer winter, thinner ice, and an increase in accidents among experienced hunters highlight the challenges faced by the community. The divisive nature of the situation is evident, with some advocating for a temporary halt to assess the environmental impact, while others, dependent on summer tourism income, oppose such measures. Michael Milton, affiliated with Ikaarvik, an organization connecting local youth with southern researchers, expresses mixed emotions, acknowledging the enjoyment of interacting with tourists while also yearning to preserve their way of life.

Critics of tourism argue that the influx of ships contributes to a harmful cycle, scaring away wildlife, reducing the availability of animals for hunting, and consequently making residents more reliant on tourism for income. The concept of “last chance tourism,” as coined by Prof Jackie Dawson of the University of Ottawa, reflects the belief among tourists that the Arctic landscape, affected by rapid warming, is a disappearing spectacle.

The consequences of increased marine activity are evident in the toll on wildlife, particularly narwhals, with fewer animals visible from the visitors’ center. While tourism offers opportunities to challenge stereotypes about Inuit life and sustain fading traditions, it also places additional pressure on the community. The Arctic, warming at an alarming rate, faces heightened human activity, impacting migration routes of marine life.

Efforts to mitigate the impact of tourism, such as restricting cruise ships beyond Pond Inlet, have been implemented in response to concerns raised by local organizations. The broader issue of shipping growth in the region, compounded by cargo vessels from nearby mines, contributes to noise pollution affecting marine life. Despite the positive aspects of tourism revenue, there are concerns about the diminishing engagement of young people in traditional practices like hunting, posing challenges for the community’s sustainable future in the unforgiving Arctic environment.

Latest articles

US: 40% of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution

According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, nearly 40% of people in the US are exposed to unhealthy levels of air...

Profits dip, Tesla comes up with new models

Tesla's profits have significantly declined this year, prompting the company to accelerate the release of new models and cut thousands of jobs in an...

Greece: Athens covered with orange Sahara dust haze

An intense orange haze has enveloped Athens, creating a surreal landscape as vast clouds of Sahara Desert dust have drifted over the city. This...

Argentina: People protest against cuts to public universities

Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on Tuesday, to protest and for voicing their opposition...

Related articles