Melting Ice and Mild Media
Description: On October 23, UBC law professor Michael Byers undertook an Arctic voyage that should have been too late in the season. Traveling with some of Canada's top Arctic scientists, Byers was on the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen as it became the
Date: 20 December 2006
Author: Matthew Burrows
Source: The Georgia Straight
On October 23, UBC law professor Michael Byers undertook an Arctic voyage that should have been too late in the season. Traveling with some of Canada's top Arctic scientists, Byers was on the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen as it became the first vessel in history to get through the Bellot Strait during the month of October. The Vancouver-based UBC Canada Research Chair in global politics and international law noted that ships would traditionally get through in the months of August and September, "if at all".
"The rate of loss of sea ice in the Arctic is terrifying," Byers told the Georgia Straight. "Winter was roughly five weeks late in the Canadian Arctic this year. This is a pattern. From March 2005 to March 2006 - March is when you have the maximum extent of ice in the winter - we lost 300,000 square kilometres of sea ice, which is getting close to the size of B.C."
Byers said he and his colleagues were "collectively despondent" at what they saw. Byers says that climate change is showing early warnings that storm-battered Lower Mainland residents should heed.
However, Byers says the mainstream media are not doing enough to raise awareness. Though he is currently in the U.K., Byers read an on-line version of a Vancouver Sun front-page story on December 15.
"I did read it," Byers quipped. "You mean the one that makes no mention of the possible link between extreme-weather events and climate change?"
On the above-the-fold cover story the previous day (December 14), the Vancouver Sun headline stated: "Storm Warning: Thousands urged to leave homes". Only on the inside page of the paper's weekend edition (December 16)-where the recent windstorm was ranked as one "for the history books" - was any mention made of climate change potentially having an impact on the weather.
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