Global warming is not only leaving a trail of destruction. It’s also clearing a path for quick-moving entrepreneurs, with diverse possibilities across the country.
Temperatures are rising fastest and furthest in the north, shortening the season during which mining companies can use ice roads to bring in supplies, says James Ford, a post-doctoral fellow in geography at McGill University in Montreal. These firms are hungry for technologies and services to keep the ice roads open longer, alternative ways to bring in supplies affordably and methods to reduce what they need to transport.
In B.C., the pine beetles that warmer winters have spared from killer cold snaps have put $43-billion worth of lumber at risk, and by 2013 are forecast to wipe out 80% of the province’s lodgepole pines. Ford says that lumber companies are building new sawmills to process beetle-infested wood before it becomes unsaleable. That creates an opening, for example, to provide on-site food and lodging services for a huge influx of loggers over the next few years. As well, new roads built to get the trees out have also opened up new districts to mining. This, in turn, could mean booming demand from miners as well as loggers for ancillary services such as parts delivery, heavy-equipment servicing and environmental-impact consultations.