Graduation year: 2022
Semester/year area of interest proposed: Spring 2020
Major status: ENVS single major
Other major (if applicable):
Minor(s) (if applicable):
One of the world’s last great pockets of untapped resources, the Arctic region of North America has been fought over by world powers for decades. The Boreal Forest inhabits the global sub-Arctic climate, accounting for 11.5% of the world’s land coverage and 25% of the world’s remaining intact forests. Massive amounts of timber, precious metals, and oil reside within the Boreal Forest and further north. In the Arctic Ocean, which connects with Europe, Asia, and North America, is subject to intense debate over fisheries, crude oil extraction, and as more ice melts from the caps, the possibility of a cargo passage during the summer months (O’Leary, 2014). Aggressive logging practices by the Canadian government have resulted in decreased forest coverage in the region. In an extreme case of timber extraction, 85% of the Carolinian Forest in southwestern Quebec has been cleared for agricultural and developmental purposes (Carlson et al., 2015). The Boreal Forest is critical habitat for Caribou, Grizzly Bear, Whooping Crane, and many other endangered or threatened species (McLoughlin et al., 2003). The effects of sustained logging may have negative effects on wildlife populations in the future, or may already be harming the general fitness of certain species.
Being one of Canada’s largest exports, oil plays a large role in local economics; the Trudeau administration approved plans for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipe, which will increase barrels per day (BPD) to 760,000 (Rubin, 2017). In 2005, 1.58 million barrels of crude oil were exported each day, along with another 440,000 barrels of refined oil (Campbell, 2008). In regards to mining, Canada holds some of the largest reserves of tungsten on Earth, only dwarfed by those of the US, Russia, and China. In 2011, the US Geological Survey estimated that Canada holds 4.1% of all tungsten reserves (Silberglitt et al., 2013). Canada’s ability to grow their economy relies heavily on trade within North America, as well as trade with Europe. In 1999, Canada began pushing heavily for a transatlantic free trade zone to be established between the EU and NAFTA, which would open up markets free of tariffs for Canadian production (Barry, 2000). Canada’s desire for economic growth is the main factor of rampant land transformation and dismissal of First Nation rights.
The effect of resource extraction may have more impacts than just physical. First Nations in the Arctic and Boreal Forest of Canada are faced with a swiftly-changing economic, ecological, and political atmosphere. Unfair treaties may strip these groups of their ability to dictate how their resources are used. First Nations in the Yukon Territory have lost control of 90% of their historically-owned lands (Alcantara et al., 2012). Mass land transformation, most notably in the form of logging, can cause alterations in the cultures of indigenous groups (Forgeron, 2015). 63.1% of Nunavut’s population speaks the regional dialect of Inuktitut, an impressive feat when considering the history of western colonization, and now with hostile policies executed by the Canadian Government. In 1991, when 50 chiefs from the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en First Nations of British Columbia sued for ownership of their rightful territories, they were dismissed by Chief Justice Allen McEachern; what the plaintiffs called ownership was “nothing more than the right to use the land for aboriginal purposes,” according to him (Roth, 2002).
The intersection of conservation, extraction, and sovereignty are the crossroads Canada is at today. As land transformation continues in the Boreal Forest, natural systems and local communities are being forced to subsist on continuously smaller increments of land. The ability and right to govern and help manage the land they’ve lived on for millennia is critical to the preservation of their cultures. Canada’s economy, being built largely on the unsustainable extraction of resources, must rapidly adapt to changing socio-economic patterns in order to preserve the sovereignty and culture of the country’s First Nations.
- What resources have been extracted from the Boreal Forest historically and contemporarily? What First Nations rely on this region?
- How does the extraction of resources affect First Nations?
- To what extent does the removal of woodlands harm these communities? Does the ability to dictate forest management effect this?
- What courses can be taken to alleviate the pressure of resource extraction on First Nations?
BIO141: An introductory courses to organic and system-wide mechanisms. Relates to ecosystems, populations, and individuals.
IA350: Social Justice in The World Economy. Examines the concepts of social justice, environmental
sustainability, and fair trade within the context of the international
political economy (IPE).
ECON232: Economic Development. Problems of less-developed countries and proposed solutions.Extent and nature of international poverty and inequality, national and international causes of underdevelopment, strategies for development.
SOAN349: Indigenous Peoples: Identities and Politics. Indigenous peoples, indigenous identity, and social movements for indigenous rights.
Here are the required breadth courses I will include in my ENVS major/minor: BIO 201, GEOL 150, ECON 260, ENVS 460, IA 257, ENG 235, PHIL 215. These are in addition to my ENVS core courses, and the area of interest courses I propose above.
Revisions to date
- 3/3/20: Dr Kleiss recommended changes to body paragraphs which promoted the flow of the Background. Changes related to statements regarding polar ice caps, wildlife populations, and arctic shipping lanes.
- 3/3/20: Dr Kleiss recommended changes to the Key Questions section of this Area of interest. Alterations were primarily related to the Descriptive and Explanatory questions. These alterations allowed the questions to flow better and lend information about their topics without further investigation.
- 3/3/20: All feedback discussed with Dr Kleiss on 3/3/20 was implemented in this Area of interest. I spent a substantial amount of time improving upon Breadth Courses, Related Courses, and Key Questions. Significant time was also spent fixing grammatical errors in the Background paragraphs.
- Alcantara, Christopher, Kirk Cameron, and Steven Kennedy. 2012. “Assessing devolution in the Canadian North: A case study of the Yukon Territory.” Arctic. 65 (3): 328–38.
- Barry, Donald. 2000. “Pursuing Free Trade: Canada, the Western Hemisphere, and the European Union.” International Journal, vol. 55, no. 2, pp. 292–300.
- Campbell, Bonnie. 2008. “Regulation & Legitimacy in the Mining Industry in Africa: Where Does Canada Stand?” Review of African Political Economy, vol. 35, no. 117, pp. 367–385.
- Carlson, Matthew, et al. 2015. “Balancing the Relationship Between Protection and Sustainable Management in Canada’s Boreal Forest.” Conservation and Society, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 13–22.
- Forgeron, Daryn. 2015. “Indigenous Rights: The Hidden Cost of Arctic Development.” Harvard International Review, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 64–67.
- McLoughlin, Philip D., Elston Dzus, Bob Wynes, and Stan Boutin. 2003. “Declines in Populations of Woodland Caribou.” The Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 755–761.
- McDaniels, Devin, Antonia Baker, Kanat Baigarin, Thomas Brewer, Shyamasree Dasgupta, Michael Grubb, Jelmer Hoogzaad, Frank Jotzo, Hitomi Kimura, Anna Korppoo, Tim Laing, Andrew Macintosh, Joyashree Roy, Shreya Roychowdhury, Thomas Spencer, Charlotte Streck, Moritz Von Unger, Murray Ward, and HongXing Xie. 2010. Canada. Climate Strategies, pp. 23–27, INTERPRETING EMISSIONS PLEDGES: THE NEED FOR A COMMON ACCOUNTING FRAMEWORK. Report. Climate Strategies, 2010. 23-27.
- O’Leary, Caitlin. 2014. “The New Ice Age: The Dawn of Arctic Shipping and Canada’s Fight for Sovereignty Over the Northwest Passage.” The University of Miami Inter-American Law Review, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 117–134
- Rubin, Jeff. 2017. Report. Centre for International Governance Innovation.
- Roth, Christopher F. 2002. “Without Treaty, without Conquest: Indigenous Sovereignty in Post-Delgamuukw British Columbia.” Wicazo Sa Review, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 143–165.
- Silberglitt, Richard, James T. Bartis, Brian G. Chow, David L. An, and Kyle Brady. 2013. “Tungsten: Case Example of a Critical Raw Material.” In Critical Materials: Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing, 17-30. Santa Monica, CA; Arlington, VA; Pittsburgh, PA: RAND Corporation.