Hosting the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre’s Northern Spotlights talk shows has given me new eyes for the Arctic: its beauty, its remarkable creatures, its sensitivity to change, and the ways the land, the ocean and the people are already being affected by the shifting climate. The Northern Spotlights programs, in which I interview Arctic experts and take questions from the audience, have put a human face on that part of our world for me — there are real people living in the Arctic and they are being affected by climate change. People in the Arctic are the ones that are already feeling the effects of melting ice, living in a place that is warming twice as quickly as any other part of our planet.

Madeleine interviews Vancouver Aquarium's B.C. and Arctic Waters curator Danny Kent on his work in Canada's North.

Madeleine interviews Vancouver Aquarium’s B.C. and Arctic Waters curator Danny Kent on his work in Canada’s North.

On my next Northern Spotlights talk show I’ll be chatting with Eric Solomon, director of Arctic programs at Vancouver Aquarium on Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. In an Arctic presentation Eric did for staff and volunteers a few months ago, he highlighted the importance of sea ice for Inuit — as a highway, a solid place from which to hunt, and as the foundation of life for the people and animals in the Arctic. As the climate warms, the techniques living things have used to thrive in the Arctic are becoming less effective.

In the past, I’ve felt powerless when thinking and communicating about climate change. It seems like an insurmountable problem, one with consequences that are too far-reaching to tackle, and changing things seemed too large a task. Some scientists think that we’ve already pushed past the tipping point for our climate. But others are more hopeful.

I want to embrace that more hopeful stance and shake myself out of my ambivalence. I want to more consciously reduce my energy use. I want to work with my husband and my friends to encourage each other to do things like:

In Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, climate change is affecting nearly every aspect of Inuit life.

In Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, climate change is affecting nearly every aspect of Inuit life.

  • Unplug our electronics when they’re not in use
  • Grow our own food
  • Reduce our plastic use, (as it takes a lot of carbon to produce plastic)
  • Choose to walk and bike more
  • Buy locally grown and produced things to reduce carbon emissions in the transport of these materials

When we do this, we are acting to protect not only our own future, but also the lives of people in the Arctic and other places of fragile beauty that are already on the edges of our changing climate.

Blog post by Madeleine Irving Chan, Vancouver Aquarium interpreter and a host of the Northern Spotlights Talk Show. Catch her next interview with Eric Solomon, at the Aquarium or live streamed online. Missed a show? All our Northern Spotlights interviews are archived online.

To learn more about how climate change is affecting Canada’s Arctic — and what you can do to help — visit vanaqua.org/ournorth.

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