12.3.2 Economic Threats

Dr. Ross Pink

An example of an economic threat can be seen in the climate change threat facing the people of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic region. Nunavut, which has a population 35,000, is an Inuit territory with a historic tradition and culture that is dominated by the environment and respect for nature. The reality of climate change is increasingly impacting the people of this Arctic region. The main threats are sea level rise and the resultant loss of permafrost due to global warming. Culture, community and traditional ways of life in Nunavut are increasingly threatened.

A report by the territorial government of Nunavut stated some of the pronounced climate change effects, which include: “Decreasing sea ice thickness and distribution, which is changing wildlife habitat and affecting and impacting hunters’ ability to harvest wildlife; permafrost degradation, changes in ice conditions, rainfall and snow quantity, drainage patterns, temperatures, and extreme weather events can all have implications for existing infrastructure, such as roads and buildings, all of which was designed around a permanently frozen soil regime…” (Government of Nunavut, 2011).

Peter Taptuna, former premier of Nunavut, described some of the issues confronting Nunavut. “The government of Nunavut has been heavily involved in climate change and environmental protection. In November 2016, the government of Nunavut announced the creation of the Climate Change Secretariat, which is responsible for managing climate change adaptation and mitigation programs and policies for the government of Nunavut. Last year, we also worked with the World Wildlife Fund to host an Arctic Renewable Energy Summit. In addition, we stood with our fellow provinces and territories in signing the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change in December 2016. As part of this, we are now working with Canada towards introducing a made-in-Nunavut carbon pricing scheme that recognizes our territory’s unique circumstances. We absolutely need Canada to help invest in clean technology and facilitate adaption and mitigation on multiple fronts, as we do not have the resources.” (Pink, 2018).

From a human security perspective, the economic threat facing the people of Nunavut is severe. A community way of life is endangered, which will result in a loss of employment and income. Moreover, the building economy, which is based upon permafrost, will be threatened by unstable ground, a shifting terrain and billions of dollars in replacement costs for homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. Additional costs are associated with infrastructure reinforcement, and in many cases the replacement required will be substantial. These are costs that the small economy of Nunavut cannot realistically meet. Thus, it is imperative that a coordinated Canadian federal response in concert with multiple partners from business and civil society be launched in the coming years. The crisis facing Nunavut is both economic and cultural. A realist perspective would look at the situation in Nunavut as regrettable and unsustainable in terms of mitigation. The human security view, on the other hand, would focus upon a broader ‘people-centered’ approach that recognizes the economic threat and prioritizes a humanitarian response to protect Nunavut’s culture and economy.


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Political Ideologies and Worldviews: An Introduction Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Ross Pink is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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