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Dawson City Is Sinking

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Section: Canadian News Geography: North Dawson City Topics: climate change

March 18, 2006

Dawson City Is Sinking

The permafrost upon which Yukon's Dawson City is built has been melting in recent years, posing serious problems for the town's public works department. Water pipes, roads, sewers and building foundations are all built into the frozen ground and are thus subject to destructive shifting as the ice melts unevenly. The increased ground temperatures have been attributed to climate change, as well as to urban heat island effects.

When water pipes break, they flood the surrounding area, which in turn causes further melting and destabilization. The annual water and sewer maintenance budget in Dawson City has been raised by $340,000 to $1 million for 2006, reports the Globe and Mail .

Building on permafrost has always posed challengesbecause the uppermost, or 'active,' layer of the permafrost melts and freezes seasonally. However, this seasonal thaw has been getting deeper and deeperand is affecting infrastructure that was previously embedded in the once-continuously frozen ground.

Several news sources, including the Canadian Press have reported this winter in Canada as the warmest on record. The Canadian Press also reported that Prime Minister Harper has declared the country's Kyoto targets "unattainable."

The David Suzuki Foundation has published several reports outlining how Canada can reach Kyoto targets and why Canada must aim for greenhouse gas reductions far beyond those called for by the Kyoto Protocol .

According to the David Suzuki Foundation , if climate change continues, Canadians will have much more than increased sewer maintenance budgets to worry about, including: the extinction of species; an increased number of hurricanes, droughts, and forest fires; and fresh water shortages.

» CBC North: Melting permafrost plagues Dawson City

» Chris Beacom: Yukon's Dawson City treading on thin ice

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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