From Ho-Ho-Ho to Hot-Hot-Hot

by Carolyn Chase


North Pole Gazette, Page 1-A

limate scientists with the International Santa Impacts Taskforce (ISIT) reported today that the impacts of global warming are endangering Santa Claus, his elves, his reindeer and the entire operations at the North Pole. The Climate Risks and Impacts to Santa (CRIS) Report predicted that global warming trends will force changes in Santa's worldwide efforts.

The report relies on recent scientific studies that document significant reductions in the thickness and extent of North Pole sea ice and find that the Arctic is warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

The retreat and thinning of the sea ice means that Santa's home and sizable workshops at the North Pole sit on increasingly unstable and ever-thinning ice. Ultimately, global warming may force Santa to relocate.

In particular, the CRIS Report identifies a number of likely changes to Santa's operations:

  • Loss of Santa's Reindeer. Higher temperatures will prohibit the use of cold-loving reindeer to pull Santa's sleigh and threaten this cold-adapted species with extinction. The leading proposal for reindeer replacement is a team of eight "Christmas Camels," though due to regional sensitivities, Santa is also considering a mixed team including wildebeests, water buffaloes, llamas, yaks and kangaroos. A number of competing proposals from off-road motorcycle and Sport Utility Vehicle manufacturers may push Santa to adopt modern, mechanized transportation.
  • Loss of Santa's Elves. A move from the North Pole is expected to create immigration problems and force a lowering in quality of life, as the elves seek to compete with local labor. These changes are expected to tempt senior elves into careers in toy consulting and product promotions. Advocates of free trade applauded these changes, claiming that Santa could realize significant economic gains by joining the global economy. Representatives of major toy manufacturers offered to dress developing country factory workers in elf outfits for the holidays.
  • Christmas Carols Crossover. I'm Dreaming of a Light Christmas, Let it Flow, Let it Flow, Let it Flow, and Walking in a Summer Sunnyland are just a few titles hoping to adapt.
  • Decreasing Use of Stockings. Due to increasing temperatures, fewer people will have large, heavy stockings and fireplaces. The Report predicts that children will substitute baseball caps and sandals and will hang the receptacle of their choice over air conditioning ducts and room air conditioners and from ceiling fans.
  • Move to Virtual Christmas Trees. Higher temperatures are predicted to decrease Christmas Tree habitat and increase the number of tree fires, both indoors and out. Software companies are developing virtual Christmas Trees that family members may access from desktop computers at their convenience. These virtual trees are surrounded by images of Christmas presents that are links to electronic gift certificates from major catalogers. The programs automatically generate thank you letters, identifying selected gifts.
  • Santa Makeover. To cope with higher temperatures and increased ultraviolet radiation, Santa is predicted to trim his beard, don a bright red Spandex body suit with white terrycloth sweat band trim, and sport sunglasses and green flip-flops with jingle bells. The fashion industry has proposed that Santa customize his attire to each family he visits and has offered to replace Santa's Elves with slinky elfin models wearing fashions selected for each family's consumer profile.
  • Relocation of Santa's Workshops. The primary qualification for a new location is that it be remote and mysterious. Rumored possible locations include the Sahara Desert, Central Asia, the Australian Outback, Mount Everest, Siberia, a number of coral atolls, and the top of a new casino in Las Vegas. On a different front, Disney has proposed a joint venture with Santa, including an offer to construct Santa theme parks near major metropolitan areas world wide.

The CRIS Report predicts that by 2075 the North Pole will be slushy in summer months, with possible uneven settling of Santa's home and workshops. It further predicts that by 2100 the North Pole will no longer provide a viable base of operations for Santa, forcing change on both Santa Claus and Christmas traditions worldwide. More alarmingly,the report warns that global warming could trigger a sudden breakup of the ice pack during warmer summer months, triggering a holiday catastrophe unparalleled in human history.

In a recent interview Santa worried, "These forced changes will have severe impacts on my operations and may open the door to increased competition from network mascots. How would you like to receive your gifts from the Warner Christmas Frog?" He also complained that air conditioning ducts take more time than fireplaces, especially given rising world population.

Asked to comment, a representative from a fossil fuel industry-backed lobbying group, the Coalition for the Ultimate Santa (CoalfortheUS), dismissed the impacts of both Santa and global warming.

CoalfortheUS representative E. Stooge stated, "It's time that children, scientists and environmentalists accept that both Santa Claus and human-caused global warming are fantasy. Rather than limiting our so-called greenhouse gas emissions, we must adapt the cultural identity of Santa and Christmas to these natural changes." In a related development, the coal industry kicked off a barrage of pre-holiday ads, pushing parents to purchase lumps of coal for their children. The industry asserts that giving young children coal for the holidays promotes more rapid maturation and earlier productivity.

PEople for Authentic Santas Everywhere, PEASE, a citizen's advocacy group working to support the traditional Santa via a grass roots "S.O.S. - Save Our Santa" campaign, stated, "If you need proof that industry is readying you for global warming-induced changes in Santa, watch this season's TV ads to see the corporate vision for the future: Santa in SUVs, Santa surrounded by fashion models, Santa in sunglasses, Santa using UPS, Santa on the internet. We can act now to curb global warming or we can lose the Santa we know and love."

Save Our Santa was set in motion by recent news reports about the impacts of global warming on the Arctic (North Pole) ice cap.

Scientists at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway found a 4.6 percent decline in ice extent and a 5.8 percent decline in actual ice area between 1978 and 1994. Further, scientists at the University of Washington, using data acquired by U.S. Navy submarines, discovered a "striking" reduction in the thickness of Arctic sea ice, including the ice under the North Pole, as compared with 20-40 years ago. The average draft of the sea ice (that is, its thickness from the ocean surface to the bottom of the ice pack) has declined on average by 4.3 feet (1.3 meters). This represents a reduction of about 40 percent as compared with the earlier period.

Most of the reports on global warming focus on impacts to natural systems, but our culture is also intimately related to climate. Changes in snow and rainfall and temperature will affect how our families celebrate many seasonal holidays, as well as many recreational activities. Happy Holidays to all and best of luck to Santa!