Browsing: Climate Change

Over the past few months, heat records have broken worldwide. In early July, the temperature in Ouargla, Algeria, reached 51.3 C, the highest ever recorded in Africa! Temperatures in the eastern and southwestern United States and southeastern Canada have also hit record highs. In Montreal, people sweltered under temperatures of 36.6 C, the highest ever recorded there, as well as record-breaking extreme midnight heat and humidity, an unpleasant experience shared by people in Ottawa. Dozens of people have died from heat-related causes in Quebec alone.

Contrary to a common perception, ignoring climate change won’t make it disappear. Global research going back to 1824 in fields ranging through physics, oceanography, biology and geology have confirmed human activity — mainly burning fossil fuels, raising livestock and destroying carbon sinks like forests and wetlands — is increasing greenhouse gas emissions and causing global temperatures to rise rapidly, putting humanity at risk. Every legitimate scientific academy and institution and every government, except the current U.S. administration, agrees.

Canada is losing a lot of its wildlife. The World Wildlife Fund’s 2017 Living Planet Report Canada found half the monitored mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species declined from 1970 to 2014. Threatened and endangered species continue to disappear despite federal legislation designed to protect them and help their populations recover. What’s going wrong?

For close to a decade, the Ecojustice team has worked with Aamjiwnaang community members to convince the Ontario government to introduce a cumulative effects policy to address the air pollution crisis in Chemical Valley. After countless meetings, dozens of letters, and two lawsuits, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change finally released a draft policy in November 2017.

Brazil has flooded large swaths of the Amazon for hydro dams, despite opposition from Indigenous Peoples, environmentalists and others. The country gets 70 per cent of its electricity from hydropower. Brazil’s government had plans to expand development, opening half the Amazon basin to hydro. But a surprising announcement could halt that.

A year ago, we revisited the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.” Signed by a majority of Nobel laureates in sciences at the time and more than 1,700 leading scientists worldwide, the document warned, “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.”

Traditionally, we’ve labelled events over which we have no influence or control “acts of God” or “natural disasters.” But what’s “natural” about climate-induced disasters today? Scientists call the interval since the Industrial Revolution the “Anthropocene,” a period when our species hasbecome the major factor altering the biological, physical and chemical properties of the planet on a geological scale. Empowered by fossil fuel–driven technologies, a rapidly growing human population and an insatiable demand for constant growth in consumption and the global economy, our species is responsible for the calamitous consequences.

What does climate change have to do with economic growth? Canada’s prime minister and premiers signed a deal in December to “grow our economy, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and build resilience to the impacts of a changing climate.” The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change outlines plans for carbon pricing, energy-efficient building codes, electric vehicle charging stations, methane emission regulations and more.

The environment has been a hot topic during the 2017 election campaign but one of the biggest issues, climate change, has received relatively little air time to date. That’s why WWF-New Zealand is hosting a Climate Debate on 19 September 2017 in Auckland, in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand and Fossil Free University of Auckland.

When the Aztecs founded Tenochtitlán in 1325, they built it on a large island on Lake Texcoco. Its eventual 200,000-plus inhabitants relied on canals, levees, dikes, floating gardens, aqueducts and bridges for defence, transportation, flood control, drinking water and food. After the Spaniards conquered the city in 1521, they drained the lake and built Mexico City over it.

August 2 was Earth Overshoot Day. Unlike Earth Day or Canada Day, it’s not a time to celebrate. As the Earth Overshoot Day website explains, it marks the time when “we will have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year.” That is the definition of unsustainable and means we’re using up the biological capital that should be our children’s legacy. We would require 1.7 Earths to meet our current annual demands sustainably.

In withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, U.S. President Donald Trump demonstrated monumental ignorance about climate change and the agreement itself. As Vox energy and climate writer David Roberts noted about Trump’s announcement, “It is a remarkable address, in its own way, in that virtually every passage contains something false or misleading.”