Reposted from Sep 10 ravensview.substack.com
Migration is the Solution, Not the Problem.
Our CBC recently published an article, New off-grid, low-cost villages are growing in the northern Ontario wilderness. They found that people are moving north, buying cheap land and setting up in unincorporated areas. Hence lower taxes and fewer regulations. But fewer services. The nearby towns do have some concerns, not just as a protective, not in ‘our’ wilderness attitude, but environmental concerns. Waterways have to be protected from pollution, and forests from fires. And the locals are well aware of the risks in trying to survive in the beautiful but sometimes harsh environment.
I was born up north and spent many years up there. It was a great place to grow up, pre-Interwebs days, where skipping school meant heading for the bush(forest) around town with lunch and a fishing rod. However, most of us left after high school, as there were not a lot of good jobs, or nightlife. Well, other than the 20 or so bars, left over from the boom years of some 30,000 residents. The town is down to less than 8,000 now, though.
It is truly beautiful up there, but the winters are long and cold, with days only 4 1/2 hours long. It doesn’t snow a lot, but what falls stays and stays and stays, and it’s not unusual to have a cold snap of -40C. Winter can get depressing, especially if you’re stuck in a little cabin somewhere in the bush. In balance, the short summer is hot and bright, with 16-hour days, and temperatures that can get up in the high 20s. Oh, and did I mention that there are black flies? Insidious little buggers that can drive people, or full-grown moose, to madness.
Yes, in amongst all the trees and streams and lakes you can find are moose, deer, bear, fish, rabbit, and beaver - lots of game to hunt or trap for either entertainment or food or to supplement your income. These new residents will need that. When the area was originally settled in the late 1800s, the main income was from mining, trapping, and forestry. Those industries have disappeared, at least for the individual. There was never a lot from farming. As part of the Canadian Shield, there are only pockets of arable land, they will find that most of it varies between rock and swamp. Living off the land could be a struggle in the area. And adding to your income will be a challenge, as there is not a lot of work in the area.
But these new neighbours can be an opportunity for the local towns, rather than a threat. They will need to build houses, clear and work the land, so they will need to buy “stuff”. Locally if they are smart, as it’s better to buy from a knowledgeable local shopkeeper than browse the Amazon catalogue.
But the factor driving people north is not just a desire to get away from it all, with cheap land and a commune-type life, as we did in the ‘60s. Climate change (yes, it’s real, Virginia) will render more and more areas of our planet uninhabitable. The New York Times recently did an excellent interactive series of articles on this, called Climate Migration.
We all see the projections that the average world temperature is gradually creeping up bit by bit, but that doesn’t seem too scary. Sort of like we’re frogs sitting in a gradually boiling pot of water. The NYT gives us a different perspective. There are some barely liveable hot zones in the world today, but that’s only 1% of the world. By 2070, in less than 50 years, that could go up to 19%. Where will people go? I found an interesting article, Canada Braces for Prospect of Future Climate Refugees, that discusses a new type of refugee.
And we likely will see this, as I see little evidence that politicians will stop focusing more on the economy - and their support. Poilievre, the next Conservative leader (likely) has said he will combat climate change by replacing international energy sources with Canadian ones, and "show the world we can produce this energy in the cleanest, greenest manner anywhere on earth". Translated as we’ll make it slightly less polluting than it was last year. He plans to (re)approve several pipeline projects. as long as they are safe, make money, and displace dirty energy from foreign dictatorships. He’s from Alberta, by the way, home of the not-so-clean oil sands.
The UK had a strong champion of the environment with Prince Charles, but now as King, he has to stay out of all those kinds of issues. And just when they got a new pro-economy Prime Minister. Not that you can blame her, the world economy, especially in Europe, is tanking. Global warming plus now the ongoing Russian ‘special military operation.” Politicians will have to start compromising their principles or let their people starve and/or freeze.
And while the UK is warmish now, thanks to the Gulf Stream, it’s worth noting that London is at the same latitude, 51 degrees, as Moose Factory here in Canada. Up at the bottom of Hudson’s Bay. What if climate changes cause this warm river of seawater to change? From last year in the Guardian, this article, Climate Crisis: Scientists Spot Warning signs of Gulf Stream Collapse.
Well, this took a depressing turn, didn’t it? I’d say the good news is I’ll be dead within 30 years but that’s little comfort, as I have grandchildren inheriting this mess. In the meantime, in the relative security of Canada, I can keep on enjoying good health and a lovely balcony view, recycling/reusing/reducing, and nudging my various levels of government.
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