Throughout the semester I have written numerous blogs about climate change. I touched on climate changes effects on human health, agriculture, and the climate refugee crisis. These are quite possibly the areas in which climate change is having the greatest impact. Needless to say, coming up with my next topic was difficult. Between climate changes expansive and extensive reach, the topics are endless. My first idea was to discuss the emerging technologies that help combat climate change, but I wanted to be more creative. I wanted to write about something that hopefully colleagues wouldn’t. Sitting here on this early Thanksgiving morning, I can feel myself getting into the holiday spirit. In just a few hours I will be off to celebrate with friends and family. In just a few short weeks, more like a blink of the eye, Christmas will be upon us. In fact, this is what I decided to write this last entry about. We have all looked at how climate change will shape the future, but now it is time to see how climate change will affect folklore.
For those of us who celebrate Christmas, we are all familiar with the story of Santa Claus, or jolly old Saint Nick. He spends the year checking on the boys and girls in the world making sure they are behaving and documenting them on his good and naughty lists. All the while his elf workers are crafting toys in the workshop. These toys will be delivered to all the children on Santa Claus’s list, while the naughty children will receive lumps of coal. Santa Claus will make all these deliveries in one night from December 24 into December 25. He does this by flying a reindeer powered sleigh, sliding down fireplaces, and leaving the presents underneath Christmas trees for the children to find on Christmas morning. But perhaps the most intriguing part of the story of Santa Claus is where his center of operations is located, the North Pole. As we already know, the arctic is disappearing. The ice is melting and contributing to the rise in sea level. This begs the question, what will happen to Santa Claus and the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years? Will they just disappear? Will children stop believing? What is certain is that the story of Santa Claus will become more unbelievable than it already is.
With the ice melting in the North Pole, we should expect that toy making operation cannot been sustained there for very long. We can expect that at some point Santa Claus will have to become a climate refugee and relocate his operations to a more suitable environment. In fact, the Canadian government has already issued a proclamation that Santa Claus relocated his operations to the South Pole. “Thanks to rising global temperatures, rapidly melting Arctic ice and growing human operations in the North, Santa Claus has signed an agreement with the International community to relocate his village next year to operate in an exclusive zone in the South Pole. Santa’s relocation agreement marks the first time that the international community agrees on a common legal definition of climate change that includes refugees as corporations, as well as individuals. This deal is expected to lead to the deployment of a global climate change refugee visa system that in the near future could help to more easily relocate individuals and corporations facing the impacts of climate change” (Horizons). While this was done to raise awareness about the climate refugee crisis there is more concrete and factual evidence to suggest that Santa and his operations are in jeopardy.
The workhorse, or should I say workdeer, is an essential part of Santa Claus’s Christmas journey around the world. Afterall, as stated before they are the ones that will fly Santa and his sleigh across the sky for his deliveries. It will take eight and sometimes nine reindeer (depending on weather) to pull the sleigh. However, reindeer are currently suffering from the effects of climate change themselves. While they are not currently on the decline in terms of population, they are on the decline in terms of size. “The average weight of adult reindeer on Svalbard, a chain of islands north of Norway, has fallen to 48 kg (106 lb) from 55 kg (121 lb) in the 1990s as part of sweeping changes to Arctic life as temperatures rise The average weight of adult reindeer on Svalbard, a chain of islands north of Norway, has fallen to 48 kg (106 lb) from 55 kg (121 lb) in the 1990s as part of sweeping changes to Arctic life as temperatures rise” (Reuters). There are numerous reasons for this, but mainly food scarcity due to the change in climate. “Less chilly winters mean that once-reliable snows fall more often as rain that can freeze into a sheet of ice, making it harder for the herbivores to reach plant food. Some reindeer starve and females often give birth to stunted young. In summer, however, plants flourish in a food bonanza that ensures healthy females more likely to conceive in autumn – a pregnancy lasts about seven months. All the weak reindeer die – the sick, the elderly and calves” (Reuters).
In conclusion, if conditions on earth continue along the same path, we will need to change the story about Santa Claus. Whether it is that operations had to move to a more suitable environment or that more reindeer will need to be utilized for his yearly trip around the world. Or perhaps even include how Santa, himself contributed to climate change. “Maybe Santa shouldn’t have handed out all that extra coal. Maybe methane emissions from the reindeer played a role. Maybe the wasteful consumption that accompanied the commercialization of Christmas was a factor” (Huffpost).
http://www.horizons.gc.ca/en/content/santa-is-moving-to-the-south-poleDoyle, A. (2016, December 12). Santa in trouble? Reindeer shrink in Arctic as climate changes. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-reindeer-idUSKBN14100N
Gleick, P. H. (2017, December 07). Santa Claus and Climate Change: A Letter to My Grandkids. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-h-gleick/santa-claus-and-climate-