How Climate Change Affects Us All

Climate Change - Toronto Flood 2015Climate change – long-term change in Earth’s weather patterns – is arguably the most significant crisis humanity has ever faced. Extreme heat, flooding, drought, violent storms, rising sea levels, habitat loss, worsened smog, and many more impacts all combine to create an enormous environmental, social and economic challenge.

Over the past 200 years, humans have been the major cause of climate change. Burning fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and natural gas), as well as deforestation, has released huge amounts of “greenhouse gases” (GHGs), like carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere, trapping energy and increasing global temperatures.

Ontario is expected to see an increase in annual average temperature of 3°C in the south of the province and 4°C in the Far North by 2050.

Some of the projected impacts of climate change in Ontario include:

Disruptions to critical infrastructure, including water treatment and distribution systems, energy generation and transmission and transportation due to more frequent extreme weather events

Lower Great Lakes water levels, which could compromise shipping and reduce hydroelectric output

More frequent water shortages, as summer temperatures and evaporation rates increase

Greater risks to public health from injury, illness and premature death from climate-related events such as extreme weather, heat waves, smog and the spread of diseases

Increased risk for remote and resource-based communities, which are already severely affected by drought, ice-dam flooding, forest fires and warmer winter temperatures

Damage to Ontario’s ecosystems, through the combined influence of changing climate, human activities and natural disturbances like fire, outbreaks of insects and disease.

[from eco.on.ca, website of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario]

What can you do about climate change?

  • Learn everything you can about the issue
  • Let politicians know you want action on climate change
  • Make changes in your own life:
    • Reduce, re-use, recycle and compost
    • Use LED light bulbs
    • Turn off lights and electronics when you’re not using them
    • Turn up the thermostat in the hot weather, and turn it down in the cold weather
    • Walk, ride your bike, carpool or take the bus or train when you can
    • Avoid idling your car
    • Think about solar panels
    • Make your next car hybrid or electric
    • Eat less meat
    • And of course, plant, care for and protect trees!

Tress Along the Old Ausable Channel

Yes, Conservation and Restoration Efforts Can Make a Big Difference to Climate Change!

There’s no question climate change is the biggest environmental, economic and social challenge facing the world today. The Paris Climate Agreement established a goal of holding global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, but every day that goal seems harder to achieve.

Here’s some good news. A recent research paper shows that so-called “natural climate solutions” (NCS) — conservation, restoration and improved land management – can make a big difference in the fight against climate change. In fact, NCS can provide 37% of the needed carbon mitigation through 2030. NCS also help filter water, buffer flooding, improve soil health, and support biodiversity.

So what are these NCS that offer hope?

  • Reforestation
  • Protecting existing forests
  • Improved forest management practices
  • More trees in crop lands
  • Better nutrient management in crop lands
  • Wetland conservation

The study’s authors conclude: “Re-greening the planet through conservation, restoration, and improved land management is a necessary step for our transition to a carbon neutral global economy and a stable climate.” Working with a philosophy of “Think global, act local,” Lakeshore Eco-Network aims to promote NCS in our region.