Melting Arctic, Afghanistan top general's concerns
OTTAWA - Global warming is melting Arctic ice faster than the military projected, posing greater challenges for Canadian Forces already facing a deteriorating security situation half a world away in Afghanistan, says Canada's top soldier.
"Global warming is happening very quickly. I think any projection we have has been underestimated. Flying over Ellesmere Island and not seeing very much snow up there and seeing the Arctic Ocean as a blue water ocean was quite revealing to me," Gen. Walt Natynczyk, the chief of the defence staff, said Monday in a candid and sweeping assessment of the challenges faced by the military from the sun-baked deserts of Afghanistan to the not-so-frozen Far North.
Speaking to hundreds at a Canadian Club luncheon, Natynczyk recalled travelling to Ellesmere Island this past summer and seeing a vast blue sea that extended off its shores for 100 nautical miles.
"We were all kind of surprised in the acceleration of the melt up north," Natynczyk said. The Forces' Arctic commander had already briefed him on the estimates of the melting of polar ice, and "then he showed us the satellite shots of the reality and every one of the estimates has been understated."