Dawson City, in Canada’s Yukon Territories, is so cold that the average temperature is below freezing, which means the ground is frozen solid all year. At least, it used to be. Now, the permafrost under the town’s foundations is melting, and the houses are collapsing in on each other as the ground beneath them goes soft. Sewers, water pipes, and road beds are affected too.
Last year, Dawson City spent more than $600,000 repairing infrastructure damage from melting permafrost. And according to Northern Climate Exchange coordinator John Streiker, things will get worse before they get better. The biggest danger, Streiker told the CBC, is when permafrost melts in some areas but not in others, leading to inconsistent and destabilizing conditions under houses and roads.
This squares pretty well with the recent finding that 98 percent of Canadians believe in global warming. When climate change is destroying sewers and buildings in your country, even the remote northerly parts, it seems plausible that your attitude would shift from “is this even happening” to “what the hell do we do about it?”
Get Grist in your inbox