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Tag Archives: Climate Change

By: Chris Burke

Time for the politicians, people, and business leaders of Alberta to start accepting the obvious fact: The floods experienced in Calgary are going to turn into a more frequent occurrence unless serious action is taken on climate change.  Serious action means decreasing, and eventually ending, production of the tar sands which are a serious contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

floodTO

In a more ideal world it wouldn’t take a disaster to get people to realize they need to do something to prevent more disasters from happening in the future, sadly that’s the way the wind blows.  The destruction brought upon New York by Hurricane Sandy was necessary for officials there to start paying attention to the reality that New York is vulnerable to extreme weather events.  Whether this will turn into a commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change is another matter.

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By: Chris Burke

The Earth has reached a milestone, and not one worth celebrating.  Rather than a moment in history where humanity can raise a glass in celebration of its’ achievements, we find ourselves sitting here wondering where things went wrong: Carbon in the atmosphere has hit 400 parts per million (ppm).

carbon emissions

Why is this fact cause for the bleak opening of this post?  For starters, many scientists argue that we need to maintain a level of 350ppm of carbon in the atmosphere to avoid runaway climate change.  The UN provides a higher threshold, somewhere around 420ppm, but with the current path we are on that threshold is likely to be broken.  Second, as the National Geographic puts it:

“The last time the concentration of Earth’s main greenhouse gas reached this mark, horses and camels lived in the high Arctic. Seas were at least 30 feet higher—at a level that today would inundate major cities around the world.

“The planet was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. But the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future” (Source)

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By: Chris Burke

Here’s some disheartening, and sadly unsurprising, polling information from the International Social Survey program:

Environmental issues rank low and the issue of climate change is not a priority for people around the world, an international study indicates.

People were five times more likely to point to the economy over the environment as an issue and when asked about climate change, people said they saw the issue more as a national problem than a personal concern, the study found.

post sandy

The surveys were sent out to 33 countries from 1993 to 2010.  Given that the economy was listed as being a greater concern, I suspect that since the recent economic crisis the environment has taken a seat even further back.

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By: Chris Burke

Today’s sad, but unsurprising news, is the announcement that Canada was ranked as the worst performer in the developed world on climate change.

Canada won a sad distinction today, falling to 58th place out of 61 countries analyzed for their policies and action on climate change this year, trailed only by Kazakhstan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, according to Climate Action Network Canada (CANC) (Vancouver Observer).

fossilofthedayawardlogo

Following years of the Harper government’s efforts to ensure that Canada poses an obstacle to international climate talks, setting of dismal emission reduction targets that are unlikely to be reached anyway, and continued support for the environmentally destructive tar sands; this ranking should come as no surprise though it should come with a great deal of shame.

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By: Chris Burke

At the time of I’m writing this post (1:26pm, Monday), hurricane Sandy is creeping up along the East Coast of the United States, where it is expected to collide with another storm coming in from the West.  It will then moving slowly northward over New York State and eventually pass right over Ottawa by 8am Thursday, though significantly weakened by that point.  The city of Waterloo is currently under a wind warning, so yours truly will be huddled up in his apartment tonight, thankful he got all of his errands done on the weekend.  Early predictions suggest this could be one of the worst hurricanes to hit the East Coast, and it’s likely the future holds more of these events in store.  As the planet warms we except to see an increase in severe weather.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: I am not stating that severe weather is proof of global warming theory.  Using singular weather events is a bad measure of climate change.  Perhaps best illustrated by a slew of right-wing politicians and commentators a few years back exclaiming that the snow storms (again in the East Coast of the U.S.) were proof that global warming is a hoax.  ‘Look! It’s really cold out, so this has to be false’.  I hope most readers can find the immediate fault in claiming that snow in the winter months is a checkmate against a well-accepted theory.  What makes using weather alone as a proof problematic is that weather is short-term, and climate is long-term meaning that a year of unusual or odd weather could be possible without needing global warming to explain it.  Still, more severe storms could be a likely by-product of a warmer planet.

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There is no doubt that global warming is having an effect on the Arctic’s environment, with the region warming at twice the global rate from temperatures recorded during the mid-twentieth century, due to “the manifestation of a human-induced greenhouse gas signature.”[1] This has caused the thawing of Arctic glaciers over land and sea, and has …

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