Search for "Climate Change"

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Earth Has Warmest June Ever Recorded

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has been monitoring the weather and recording temperatures since 1880, announced that the global temperature in June 2019 averaged 15.9˚C, beating out June 2016 as the hottest on record. Regional temperature records for June were also set in Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa and South America. “Earth is running a fever that won't break thanks to climate change,” reported North Carolina state climatologist Kathie Dello. “This won’t be the last record warm summer month that we will see.”

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Scientists Say Canada’s Warming Is Twice the Global Rate and Is “Effectively Irreversible”

A report issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada that was based on the work of more than 40 scientists concluded that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Canada’s average temperature is 1.7°C higher than it was 70 years ago, while average temperature during winter is 3.3°C higher, and average temperature in the Arctic is 2.3°C higher. The report stated that the effects of climate change are “effectively irreversible” and will last for “centuries.”

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Arctic Ocean Will Be Ice-Free in 50 Years, Study Warns

In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers at the University of California concluded that if global carbon emissions maintain their current pace, the Arctic Ocean will be almost entirely ice-free at least part of every year by sometime between 2044 and 2067. Currently, Arctic ice covers about 4.5 million km2 at its lowest amount each September — a sharp reduction from the historic level of around 6 million km2. The study predicts that 50 years from now, ice will only cover about 1 million km2 of the Arctic Ocean, mostly close to land, leaving the open ocean virtually ice-free. (See also: Climate Change; Endangered Arctic Animals.)

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Climate Change

Climate change occurs when long-term weather patterns begin to shift. These periods of change have occurred throughout the Earth’s history over extended periods of time. However, since the Industrial Revolution the world has been warming at an unprecedented rate. Because of this, the current period of climate change is often referred to as “global warming.” Human activities that release heat-trapping greenhouse gases, such as the burning of fossil fuels, are largely responsible for this increased rate of change. The implications of this global increase in temperature are potentially disastrous and include extreme weather events, rising sea levels and loss of habitat for plants, animals and humans. In Canada, efforts to mitigate climate change include phasing-out coal-fired power plants in Ontario and instituting a carbon tax in British Columbia.

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Steven Guilbeault

Steven Guilbeault, PC, MP, ecologist, author, columnist and lecturer (born 9 June 1970 in La Tuque, Quebec). In 2009, French magazine Le Monde recognized Guilbeault as one of the world’s 50 leading figures in the field of sustainable development. The Cercle des Phénix de l’environnement du Québec also recognized Guilbeault the same year. Guilbeault earned recognition through his work with Greenpeace and as a co-founder of Équiterre. He also served as a columnist for various media outlets, including Métro, Radio-Canada, La Presse and Corporate Knight magazine. During the 2019 federal election, Guilbeault was elected the Liberal Member of Parliament for Montreal’s Laurier─Sainte-Marie riding. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Guilbeault to his Cabinet as minister of Canadian heritage.

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Breakwater

A breakwater is a structure built along a shore or offshore, approximately parallel to a shoreline. Some breakwaters float at the water’s surface, while bottom-resting models may emerge from the surface or lie entirely underwater. Breakwaters are different from dikes because they allow some water flow and do not seal off one portion of a water body from another.

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Inuit Group Releases Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami released a 48-page plan for adapting to a changing climate in the Arctic, which is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the planet. “Inuit have decided we are going to seek a partnership with the Government of Canada and start to adapt any way we can through coordinated action,” said Natan Obed, the head of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The plan calls for improvements to infrastructure threatened by thawing permafrost, increased spending on transportation, improvements to telecommunications and the incorporation of traditional Inuit knowledge in building codes and practices.

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Invasive Species in Canada: Animals

Invasive species are any species that have, primarily with human help, become established in a new ecosystem. While it’s impossible to say exactly how many invasive species are living in Canada, in 2002 researchers estimated that at least 1,442 invasive species — including fish, plants, insects and invertebrates — now live in the country’s farmlands, forests and waterways. The complex environmental impacts of so many invasive species is unknown and, maybe, unknowable. Typically, non-natives are feared for their ability to reproduce much faster than native species and outcompete natives for food, habitat and other resources. Economically, invasive species are estimated to cost Canadians billions of dollars each year in lost revenue from natural resources and impacts on ecosystem services.

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UN Warns of Impending Climate Change Tipping Point

A report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that for climate change to be kept to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, greenhouse gas emissions would need to be reduced at least 45 per cent (of 2010 emissions levels) by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050. Otherwise, the most dire “climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth” may not be avoided. 

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Invasive Species in Canada: Plants

Invasive species are any species that have, primarily with human help, become established in a new ecosystem. While it’s impossible to say exactly how many invasive species are living in Canada, in 2002 researchers estimated that at least 1,442 invasive species — including fish, plants, insects and invertebrates — now live in the country’s farmlands, forests and waterways. The complex environmental impacts of so many invasive species is unknown and, maybe, unknowable. Typically, non-natives are feared for their ability to reproduce much faster than native species and outcompete natives for food, habitat and other resources. Economically, invasives are estimated to cost Canadians billions of dollars each year in lost revenue from natural resources and impacts on ecosystem services.

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BC’s Harbour Air Flies World’s First All-Electric, Zero-Emission Commerical Aircraft

Near the South Terminal of Vancouver International Airport, Greg McDougall, the CEO of BC’s Harbour Air Seaplanes, completed the first full-fledged flight of an electric DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver. The plane has a 750 horsepower propulsion system designed by Seattle-based company magniX and the battery capacity to fly 160 km. Harbour Air transports around 500,000 people a year on routes within that range. It hopes to use the planes for its commercial passenger flights within two and a half years. “Our goal is to electrify the entrie fleet,” McDougall said. (See also Bush Flying in Canada.)

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Growth in Canada’s Clean Energy Sector Outpacing Rest of Economy, Study Finds

A study conducted by Clean Energy Canada, a think tank at Simon Fraser University, found that the clean energy sector represented about 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP in 2017. Between 2010 and 2017, it grew at a rate of around 5 per cent annually, compared to 3.6 per cent growth in the overall economy. The number of jobs in the sector increased by 2.2 per cent per year from 2010 to 2017, compared to 1.4 per cent for total jobs in Canada.

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Canadian Economist Mark Carney Accepts UN Position

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and former governor of the Bank of Canada, accepted a position with the United Nations as the special envoy on climate action and climate finance. He will begin serving in the role sometime in 2020. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Carney “a remarkable pioneer in pushing the financial sector to act on climate.” (See also Climate Change.)

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BC Declares State of Emergency due to Forest Fires

A province-wide state of emergency was issued after 566 forest fires across the province forced more than 3,000 people to evacuate their homes. The federal government deployed 220 Armed Forces personnel, two helicopters and an airplane to assist  3,372 firefighters already on the ground. By the end of August, more than 12,984 sq. km had burned, making 2018 the worst forest fire season in BC history.

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Muskeg

Muskeg (from Cree maskek and Ojibwe mashkiig, meaning “grassy bog”) is a type of northern landscape characterized by a wet environment, vegetation and peat deposits. Chiefly used in North America, the term muskeg escapes precise scientific definition. It encompasses various types of wetlands found in the boreal zone, including bogs, fens, swamps and mires. In Canada, muskeg and other peatlands cover up to 1.2 million km2, or 12 per cent of the country’s surface.

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Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL is a 1,947 km long pipeline project that will carry crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska. It is owned by Calgary-based TC Energy. The pipeline is named XL for “export limited.” First proposed in July 2008, it is the fourth phase of TC Energy’s existing Keystone Pipeline system. Keystone XL has federal approval on both sides of the Canada-US border. It has nevertheless faced significant opposition and legal challenges on environmental grounds. In March 2020, TC Energy announced that it will start building the pipeline, backed by an investment from the Alberta government.

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Ottawa Declares Climate Emergency and Green-lights Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

The Trudeau government passed a motion in the House of Commons declaring “that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement.” The next day, 18 June, the government announced it had given a second green light to expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline. The first green light had been rejected by the Federal Court of Appeal for failing to properly consult with Indigenous peoples. The two announcements were widely criticized for being contradictory and at odds with each other.