Global Climate Change Emergency Leads to First World Forum on Climate Justice

landscape photo of seashore at golden hour

OXFORD, England: Elsevier and the Glasgow Caledonian University Centre for Climate Justice are pleased to announce a partnership that will provide the platform to discuss the impacts of climate change on weather forecasting, people trafficking and growing spread of mosquito-borne malaria, among other topics, at the first World Forum on Climate Justice, June 19-21, 2019 at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

This inaugural conference brings together an outstanding line-up of international speakers, led by Mary Robinson, Kerry Kennedy and Professor Tahseen Jafry. Difficult conversations around the current and future impact of climate change on the world’s societies and economies will be explored, to aid further promotion and collaboration about the latest science and thinking as to how these issues can be tackled.

Around one hundred short talks will cover the diverse challenges posed by climate change from the impact on fair access to food and water to the spread of diseases like malaria; the growing vulnerability of communities to extreme weather events; and the resulting challenges on migration and population displacement. This Forum brings a diverse range of expertise in the emerging field of Climate Justice together for the first time to consider the impact climate change is already having on people and their communities across the world. MORE

Climate change making for sour grapes

“The reality is, one person can do a lot and if we get more and more people to start thinking about this, it will make a huge difference to the planet.”
—Caroline Granger, Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery


BRUCE BELL Caroline Granger, of the Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery in Hillier, inspects some of the vines at the Closson Road vineyard. Granger said climate change is making grapes difficult to grow. JPG, BI

HILLIER — The owner of a winery here is hoping Prince Edward County council is taking pleas to help the environment seriously.

Caroline Granger has operated the Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery for almost two decades, but it wasn’t until her daughter Maggie got involved with the operation in 2012 did things begin to change.

“Maggie was the driving force behind it because when she joined me here, she simply said we have to stop producing garbage — no ifs, ands or buts about it — we need to stop,” Granger said with a laugh. “Immediately we reduced our garbage by 85 per cent and we only have one bag of garbage every two weeks. That was Maggie’s initiative and I’m proud of it because we’ve been able to stick to it and, in fact, most of that one bag of garbage is from trash people leave when they are visiting here.”

Granger said the weather in four of the last five years has more than convinced her it is time for immediate action.

“On May 23, 2015 the vines had four little leaves on them and were doing extremely well, but that all changed in a matter of 70 minutes overnight,” she said. “Then by 4:15  in the morning the temperature had dropped to -5.5 C and by 5:30 (a.m.) the damage was done — we lost 90 cent of the plants. It wasn’t as bad for some people, but for others it was a complete loss.”

…Granger said the municipality’s council needs to consider carefully what steps can be taken to reduce the County’s carbon footprint going forward.

“I’ll be the first to admit that this concept is extremely intimidating because this is a huge world we live in and it’s really easy to feel like… what can I as one person do?” she said. “The reality is, one person can do a lot and if we get more and more people to start thinking about this, it will make a huge difference to the planet. We’re hearing from the United Nations that we have very little time to change before the damage being done to the planet becomes irreversible and I really do think people are becoming frightened, but the idea that you need to change the climate of the planet is too big of an idea for many.”

 

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REPORT: Canada warming at double global rate

Tuesday, April 2nd 2019, 9:37 pm – A new study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada reveals the alarming findings. The Weather Network is rolling out a three-part series in the coming weeks that will analyze how this report will impact each region of Canada.

The world’s climate is changing and Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Just a few hundred kilometers north the situation becomes increasingly dire as Northern Canada is heating up almost three times as rapidly as the global average, according to a new study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), which states that the damage will be “effectively irreversible.”

The Canada’s Changing Climate Report states that since 1948 annual average temperatures in Canada have increased by 1.7°C and 2.3°C in Northern Canada, whereas the average global temperature on Earth has increased by approximately 0.8°C since 1880 according to NASA. Findings suggest that the environmental crisis is just beginning, as widespread warming is projected to intensify.

As shown in the figure below, the North, the Prairies, and northern British Columbia have warmed significantly faster. This unusually rapid warming in the North is referred to as Arctic amplification, which means that temperatures in the Arctic have warmed twice as fast as regions in the mid-latitudes, and is in part caused by sea ice melt and global atmospheric mechanisms that transport heat from the equator to the Arctic.

RCP emission scenariosFrom Chapter 4 Figure 4.8. Credit: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Climate models indicate that a national increase in annual average temperature from 2081 to 2100 range from 1.8°C for a low emission scenario (RCP2.6) to 6.3°C for a high emission scenario (RCP 8.5), or in other words, if we continue on business-as-usual. In the high emission scenario, the sea ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere will see a 50 per cent chance of ice-free conditions in September by 2050 and a global rise in mean sea level could range between 28 to 98 cm.

wiki cc climate change graphCredit: NOAA

A warming of just a fraction of a degree can have catastrophic impacts on certain ecosystems, and the unprecedented rate of warming in Canada could collapse major agricultural industries, flood coastlines, and significantly increase the frequency of damaging extreme weather events.

Notable highlights from the report include: MORE

Canada’s health organizations demand action to prevent catastrophic climate change

Photo by Kristy Faith, Flickr/Creative Commons

In an unprecedented move, five national health organizations representing doctors, nurses, medical officers, and public health professionals gathered in Ottawa to call for urgent action to prevent catastrophic climate change on Feb. 5.

“The health impacts of climate change are already devastating.”

It is an election year and all of our organizations — the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the Urban Public Health Network (UPHN), the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) — agree that climate change is too important to the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren to be treated as a wedge issue in the upcoming federal election.

The mental and physical health of Canadians is already being harmed by climate change. Last year, tens of thousands of Canadians had their lives, homes or jobs threatened by wildfires, power outages, tornadoes and floods; millions in western Canada were forced to breath toxic air pollution as wildfire smoke blanketed their communities for days or weeks at a time; and millions in central and eastern Canada suffered through searing heat for much of the summer.

On a global scale, the health impacts of climate change are already devastating. The prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, reported in 2018 that 712 extreme weather events occurred around the world in 2017, resulting in $326-billion (U.S. dollars) in economic losses — nearly a three-fold increase in economic losses over 2015. It also found that: 157 million more people were exposed to heat waves in 2017 than were exposed in 2000; insect and water-borne diseases are increasing in some regions of the world; and agricultural yield potential is decreasing in the 30 countries for which data were available. It concluded that the “trends in climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerabilities demonstrate an unacceptably high level of risk for the current and future health of populations across the world.” MORE

Investors Join Calls for a Food Revolution to Fight Climate Change

A series of new reports shows how climate change is intertwined with the world’s worsening health, and suggests changes in the global food production system.

Fast food burger. Credit: Cate Gillon/Getty Images
New reports describe how food choices and farming practices can exacerbate climate change, and they argue for changes and even an international treaty. Investors are also calling for greenhouse gas reductions from the fast-food industry. Credit: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

scientific study published Monday also shows how “food production shocks” linked to climate change have been rising globally, putting food security at risk. The researchers identified nearly 230 food production shocks, in 134 countries, from 1961 to 2013, and said the frequency of crop production shocks driven by extreme weather had been increasing steadily. Food shocks threaten to destabilize the global food supply and drive up global hunger rates, which have started to tick up in recent years.

“Land-based crop and livestock production are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events such as drought, which are expected to become more frequent and intense with climate change,” said Richard Cottrell of the University of Tasmania, the report’s lead author.

“The dominant diets that the world has been producing and eating for the past 50 years are no longer nutritionally optimal, are a major contributor to climate change, and are accelerating erosion of natural biodiversity.”

The drumbeat for change in food and nutrition gained volume this month with the release of a detailed plan by an international commission organized by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. The plan urges a major overhaul in food production and diets, or what one of the report’s authors called “nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.” MORE

What Would a “Green New Deal” Look Like for Architecture?

The implications of such a plan—championed by new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—extend well beyond the ecological

people in hard hats on a room next to solar panels

Going forward, the best new buildings will perform like mini power plants that can not only support their own electrical needs but also send excess energy back to the grid. Photo: Caiaimage / Trevor Adeline / Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez’s plan, which emphasizes decarbonization, job creation, and social and economic justice, is politically audacious—it aims for 100 percent renewable energy within 12 years—but in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s most recent warning that the world has about a decade to get climate change under control if we are to thwart its worst effects. With close to half of all greenhouse gas emissions coming from the built environment, architects and designers should feel welcome wading into the conversation.

In the past, buildings were designed to hold people and things and to receive energy along a one-way artery from a faraway grid. Under a Green New Deal, that way of building would be considered outdated and obsolete. Instead, buildings would be considered mini power plants that can not only produce enough energy to supply their own needs, but also fuel vehicles and send excess energy back to the grid.

 “If you don’t build it to zero-energy now, you run the risk of being obsolete in ten years.”

“There’s a loosening of the boundaries around things that define energy—they’re not siloed anymore,” says Jacob Corvidae, a principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Buildings Practice. “Suddenly, a building is not just a building.” MORE

 

Climate change a very real issue for Northern Ontario

Making polluters pay leads to good things says environmental commissioner

Ontario's Enviromental Commissioner Diane Saxe visited Sudbury on Jan. 8 for a sobering talk on climate change in Northern Ontario. (Matt Durnan/Sudbury.com)Ontario’s Enviromental Commissioner Diane Saxe visited Sudbury on Jan. 8 for a sobering talk on climate change in Northern Ontario. (Matt Durnan/Sudbury.com)

The picture painted by Saxe during her 45-minute presentation was a rather bleak one at times, as she explained that is too late to be thinking soley about reducing greenhouse gas emissions or about trying to adapt.

“We have to do both,” said Saxe. “We’re already seeing the highest temperatures in human history, we blew away record temperatures in 2016, we also blew away records of how many records we blew away.”

Saxe explained that Ontario is warming at a faster rate than the global average, and Northern Ontario is warming at a rate faster than the province as a whole. While average temperatures and precipitation numbers have been increasing steadily, average numbers do tend to mask most of what really matters when it comes to climate change. MORE

The Story of 2018 Was Climate Change

Future generations may ask why we were distracted by lesser matters.

Image result for extreme weather
We experience the weather. We see it and feel it.

If you argue that climate change is causing some weather trend, a climate denier may respond by making grand claims about a recent snowfall.

And yet the weather still has one big advantage over every other argument about the urgency of climate change: We experience the weather. We see it and feel it.

It is not a complex data series in an academic study or government report. It’s not a measurement of sea level or ice depth in a place you’ve never been. It’s right in front of you. And although weather patterns do have a lot of randomness, they are indeed changing. That’s the thing about climate change: It changes the climate. MORE

 

Year In Review 2018: It was another year of climate extremes

But pressure to build more pipelines to develop tar sands crude is fuelling a political calamity between Alberta and the rest of the country

Toronto Island flood-1-3.jpg
Flood that hit Toronto Islands in 2017 has been followed by more climate extremes.

The forest fires, floods and drought that destroyed the continent in 2017 were no anomaly, as Naomi Klein wrote here for us. But a year after the year from hell, nothing could have prepared us for 2018.

Hurricanes crushed the Carolinas causing an ecological emergency, contamination from flooding flowed into water supplies in New Brunswick, and in Ontario temps eclipsed 40°C more often than at any other time in history. Other parts of the country, meanwhile, shivered as British Columbia choked once again on ash from forest fires that blotted out the sun for weeks on end.

Closer to home, an ice storm packing 100-kilometre winds knocked out power for thousands and raised waves higher than any measured before on Lake Ontario a year after floods cut off the Toronto Islands. That was followed in September by a string of tornadoes in the Ottawa area. MORE