Sunday, August 19, 2012 | Categories: Episodes
Taking the temperature on climate change.
This summer there were dramatic ice melts in the Arctic. Drought has affected crops in Canada. And this week there are massive wildfires in bone-dry California. These events may be connected to global warming. A recent survey says Canadians now believe that climate change is occurring.
What are you prepared to do about climate change?
With guest host Andrew Nichols.
The Globe and Mail
The National Post
The Toronto Star
Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis
Other than adapting to changing climate there is nothing us puny humans can do, and to think otherwise is pure hubris. Even if the ice sheet covering the Arctic Ocean completely melts there is no danger of rising Ocean levels because ice displaces its' own mass in water anyway and besides the ice cover over Antarctica is thickening. The Earth enjoyed warmer climate during the Medieval Warm Period and with luck will do so again.
New Westminster, British Columbia
I am fully prepared to vote for parties and leaders who can speak clearly and effectively above the noise of the current dinosaur-esque regimes when it comes to the environment. I am prepared to vote for any person or party who sees this difficult pipeline debate as an opportunity for Canada to invest in research and development of revolutionary pipeline technology that will have the world knocking at our door. I am prepared to vote for leadership that sees the writing in the earth, sea and sky and helps us come to terms with just how dangerous oil and coal have become and that either we develop revolutionary ways of refining and using them, that we simply and smartly stop using them.
Adapt. The same as all life has always done as the climate constantly changes. With the latest science showing clearly that man made CO2 has only a marginal effect on global climate, but a large effect on plant growth and crop yield, I will be doing my part for humanity and driving my car more. 1500 ppm of CO2 would be beneficial overall and I intend help get us there.
I have no doubt that the climate is changing, it always has and always will. I do not believe that human activity has a significant impact upon the global climate. Our climate impacts are minor and local such as urbanization. Carbon dioxide has been unjustly and stupidly demonized -- it is not a pollutant but an essential compound for all life on earth. Carbon dioxide is a fertilizer, increases in carbon dioxide increase plant health and growth. I believe in conservation and care for the earth's resources and adaptation to changes in the earth's climate as they become apparent.
Whether or not you believe that mankind is causing climate change, the fact remains we should not be contributing to it. The debate over plastic bags, the aesthetics of wind turbines, the often touted belief that serious energy conservation will result in a weakened economy and job loss, tells me the issue of climate change is not yet taken seriously. On-going land-use planning since the Second World War has produced human settlements that are totally automobile dependant and incapable of being converted to dependable and convenient public transportation, no matter the size of the investment. The least we could do is hang our laundry out to dry, especially in the low density suburbs, but we don't. Underwear on a clothes line is embarrassing and socially unacceptable as well as inconvenient.
What am I doing? I just moved to a new place from which I can walk to work.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
I have friends in the oil and gas industry that are part of the 9% who deny climate change. I annoy them by stating that whether for economics or international pressures, we may eventually do the right thing for some other reasons. I have stood below the glacier between Jasper and Banff where the retreat of the glacier over the years is marked by small monuments.
However much our actions are responsible, just being smart about energy usage, conservation and alternative sources will yield benefits in costs, reliance on foreign sources and pollution. It is a shame that this question is so political. I am ashamed of the Harper Government for ruling by ideology instead of facts and sensible measures.
Grande Cache, Alberta
I am a 30 year resident of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Just finished my seasonal working on northern Ellesmere Island at Quttinirpaaq National Park. Was up at Ward Hunt Island at the top of Canada in July, and was amazed at the continuing breakup of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf. Looks like the eastern half may be gone by the end of this summer. And on our flight out of the park going south to Resolute on Aug 3, they were unbelievably numerous collapsed slumps on the tundra where the permafrost has just given way. Looked like there were many hundreds of them, perhaps thousands. I took lots of pictures. Never seen the like in 12 years going up there.
Cambridge Bay, Nunavut
Climate has been changing since the beginning of time. The changes we are now experiencing are well within natural variability. Global warming stopped in 1998 and we could be passing the peak of the Modern Warm Period, the sixth and coolest of the 6 warm periods since the last glaciation.Climate science covers a wide range of scientific disciplines. However, the alarmist message is supported solely by fatally-flawed climate models. A knowledge of science is not required to assess the validity of the AGW alarmist message. All that is necessary is an awareness that ancient atmospheres contained much larger quantities of CO2 and that the carbon content of the planet's fossil-fuel deposits is relatively small compared to the missing CO2.For example, the life-sustaining carbon inventory during the dinosaur era was 5 times our current inventory. This knowledge prompts us to ask two questions. What happened to the missing carbon (i.e. CO2); and Can it be replaced by burning coal, oil, and gas?
The missing carbon was used by natural processes to form carbonate rocks such as limestone and coral. This serious depletion of the life-sustaining carbon inventory has given us a CO2-starved atmosphere. As a result, greenhouse operators must generate CO2 to achieve acceptable yields. Unfortunately, the carbon in the planet's fossil-fuel deposits is not sufficient to restore the fertile (CO2-rich) atmosphere of the dinosaur era. The planet's oil and gas reserves would have to be 120 times larger to replace the missing CO2. In conclusion, a historical perspective clearly demonstrates that the debate over CO2's ability to drive our climate is irrelevant simply because the quantity of carbon in the planet's fossil-fuel deposits is immaterial.
Trail, British Columbia
Climate is Always Changing - the question should be is it changing adversely and is it something we can do something about it.
There was a BBC Documentary where the scientist showed that the average temperature on Earth was mimicking the temperature on Mars. If correct this means the overall temperature of earth is dependent on the Suns radiation.
On a more immediate note, it appears the decrease in ice in the Arctic may be a result of less water flowing to the Arctic because of water use, particularly fracking.
The green initiative needs to be more general, this means conserving our non renewable resources such as Natural Gas and Oil, because we have it does not require us to liquefy and export it, just as we do not need to export raw logs. This means things like Dams must be built but not without first removing the vegetation and topsoil which may be applied to grade 2 and grade 3 lands.
On a small scale let's look at something like our post office - is it more efficient to have a modern mail system delivering mail or a mail system where we all drive to mailboxes. Excepting rural delivery my suggestion is mail delivery not super boxes are more efficient provided our mail carriers are not charging an exorbitant rate.
Dawson Creek, British Columbia
One point overlooked by at least one of your callers is that as long as we keep pouring co2 into the atmosphere the oceans will continue acidifying to the point where it will not be able to sustain most marine species.
Like almost all polls on climate change, the public opinion poll conducted by Angus Reid did not ask the most important question of all:
Do you believe that emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities are causing dangerous global warming and other problematic climate change?
It must be dangerous climate change that is being asked about. Anything less than dangerous, while interesting to scientists, is of no concern to politicians who continue to divert billions of taxpayer dollars to the climate file while important social programs remain underfunded.
I regularly hear people say that they believe that the climate is changing. I also hear people say that they don't believe that humans have caused most of the change and, therefore, they shouldn't have to do anything to reduce their impact on the climate. This reasoning does not make sense to me. Most of us buy car insurance that protects us if someone else hits us: we do something to take care of ourselves even if someone else is at fault Most of us are willing to donate to charities that help people who are suffering even though we are not at fault. So why not change environmental habits if doing so will help ameliorate the effects of climate change? I think a new question could be: can humans do anything to help keep our climate habitable?
Abbotsford, British Columbia
The first caller from Hadia Gwaii was right: of course climate is changing, it always does. Very likely human activity is contributing, but it doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter because it is very unlikely that we could change human activity in the next 50 years in order to slow or reverse any human caused component of climate change. In the longer run, perhaps more can be done but for my lifetime we are on this particular bus and there are no stops in sight. In any event, climate change will be with us for the foreseeable future, whether human caused or not and the debate about all that is largely beside the point.
Therefore, the real point is that climate change is happening and it is going to have probably a negative net impact on the Canadian society and economy, and that negative impact is almost certain to be much greater on certain parts of the country than on others.
So, we have to be prepared to do something. What would I do? I would support a change of the GST/HST back up one percentage point to create a fund to ameliorate regional impacts arising from climate change.
Kamloops, British Columbia
My car died the day before we set off for a week to the ultra urban city of Montreal where the super transit system and walking are the main modes of transportation for people who live there. When we got back I thought it was now or never. If I repaired the car, I would not carry forward the urban frame of mind I'd gotten into while in that wonderful place. So it is sitting there, and I just renewed my bus pass for a third week.
I didn't start to drive until I was in my 30s, so bussing wasn't completely new to me, but forcing myself like this has made me learn the schedules and the tools that are available. There are some challenges, for sure. For some reason Winnipeg does not have the day pass, or 3 day pass, that most cities have, to make it affordable to do a day of running around (for both residents and tourists). And service in so-called "power centres" - large shopping areas is completely inadequate...to go from store to store you have to walk blocks and blocks on narrow sidewalks beside very busy roads, and stops in the area do not have shelters. Dead zones, where nothing comes by even busy corners for half hour stretches, are frustrating, and if at night or in severe weather, dangerous.
At some point I will have to repair the car, but I am hoping that this experiment will enable me to at least use a mix. I recommend this tactic if someone wants to break themselves from the car habit but are having a hard time doing so!
An important way that can be considered to reduce carbon emissions is indirect and yet effective: giving women globally the right, the tools, and the education to choose when to have children. If women globally had access to birth control, safe abortion, and education about family planning, there would be a slowed population growth without any extra policies to slow that growth. Granted, countries in which this choice is not available to women often have more poverty and less impact on climate. But less is not none. I have heard compelling arguments saying that this would have a huge impact on many social and environmental issues.
Until last year I was living in Ottawa, Ontario and enjoying a career in the culinary industry. The mounting scientific evidence of the changing climate and the anthropogenic nature of the issue was obvious to me, even as I was up to my elbows in pastry. What bothered me most was the severe disconnect between Canadians and the direction of the federal government on issues concerning the environment. I know Canadians. I know how we feel about our country, and I wanted to be a part of connecting Canadians vision, of Canada, and Canada's role in the unfolding climate crisis, with the current federal governments direction. So I moved across the country to study at the University of Victoria. I am about to enter my second year of a political science and environmental studies double major.
Victoria, British Columbia
Any discussion of climate change cannot impact the role of present agricultural practices have on the production of greenhouse gases. In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report Livestock's Long Shadow. This report was based on livestock data available, taking into account direct impacts, along with the impacts of feed crop agriculture required for livestock production. The report concluded that the livestock sector is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, including climate change, that face us at every scale from local to global.
It has been argued by some, Jill Eisen (CBC Ideas on Eating Meet), that by altering current agricultural practices, we can effect substantial change in CO2 emissions. In fact, there might even be ways of altering our agricultural practices in a way that actually sequesters CO2 (Joel Salatin-farmer, Polyface Farm, Virginia). It stands to reason that part of the solution is change agricultural practices and for all of us to eat less meat.
Suppose the climate change is part of a natural cycle. Does that mean it is safe? If we are threatened by the change then it does not matter who did it, what matters is getting out of the pickle, yet so often people talk as if climate change is only a threat if we caused it. On that note, there is no reason that I know of to suppose that we humans are a permanent fixture on the planet, neither by necessity nor by design.
Kingston, Nova Scotia
Profit for corporations and convenience for individuals are the two factors that have combined to ensure that we will not get past this crisis without a global catastrophe. Individuals are trapped by their culture, and governments cannot break away from their relationship with corporations.
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
There are quite a few anecdotal examples of global warming here in the North Okanagan Shuswap.I simply look at the number of times I shovel my driveway each winter...last year it was 2 or 3 times and this has been the story for quite a few years. Previously we shoveled mountainous amounts.The school busses had to shut down in the 1990's is winter due to temperatures below 36 degrees - not so since the year 2000. So, whether this whole change is manmade or a natural phenomenon, I think we can all do our small bit regardless of where the cause is.I bury all my compost in my yard, wherever I can find space. I eat a plant based diet vs. an animal based one.We took advantage of the government rebates and changed our furnace to a 95.2 efficiency.Comparing gigajoule usage from Feb. 2011 with Feb. 2012, we moved from 15.4 to 9.6 GJs and in March from 16.2 to 10.8. I know we can't change to whole world but we can do our small part and it's not that threatening!
Enderby, British Columbia
It there are people who deny climate change I wonder what they will do when the sea rises and millions if not billions will be looking for alternate living space. For those who only live in the moment with no regard for the future will be those scrambling to take over space belonging to others. Jobs today can mean disaster tomorrow. Governments only reason for continued existence is to be re-elected without any thought of climate change.
I envision the Fraser Valley becoming an inland sea and New York covered in water.We as humans are destroying our own habitat and it seems we are like lemans rushing to our own destruction.
Salmon Arm, British Columbia
Personal responsibility for reducing fossil fuels is the key. I'm not saying don't write to your MLA and MP encouraging government action, I'm just saying we all need to try to make our lives as sustainable as our personal resources will allow. Even if we are not the cause of climate change, extraction and use of greenhouse gasses is horrible for the environment and our health. This is reason enough to reduce our personal use. Also, for those of us who believe we are cause, stop calling those who disagree "climate change-deniers"- this only furthers divisions in the debate.
Victoria, British Columbia
People need to know three important things about climate change. The changes in lifestyle that most people associate with reducing their carbon footprint are a drop in the bucket to what really needs to be done. People in Canada produce 10x more carbon emissions then someone in a third world country. Any changes that we make as a society, no matter how extreme will not make a difference in or present warming for another 100 years. This is because of various feedback loops and store carbon in the oceans. Any reductions in usage will result in a loss of economic activity unless our entire economy shifts. Not likely any time soon. The fact is that waste puts people to work.
Some of the steps I have taken to limit my carbon footprint - I live in a very small condo rather than a much larger detached house, I bought a 4 cylinder vehicle that gets excellent mileage, I live near work and where I recreate and I try to ride my bike to work several days per week. My ultimate goal would be to sell my vehicle and use only transit and my bike. Hopefully that will be possible in the near future. Have these "sacrifices" been difficult ? Simplicity is enormously freeing and I recommend it to anyone.
I am hugely alarmed about climate change. I am also ashamed over the condition of the world, and the magnitude of its environmental problems, that we are leaving to coming generations.
As I have written to my (Conservative) MP repeatedly, I am prepared to go very far to address climate change. I will gladly pay more for food and transportation, and higher taxes toward energy adaptation. I already do much : I don't own a car, I live in a small town so I can bike or walk. I am very reluctant to fly anywhere, especially for amusement or vacation, and when I must I offset the carbon emissions.
Only the willfully blind would still argue that climate change is not happening. The debate over whether it is human-caused or not is a red herring, because our time of cheap, carbon-based energy is over, and the sooner we begin addressing that fact, the further ahead we will be in coming decades. Pouring more time and money down the dead-end rat hole of tar sands development, for example, is extremely shortsighted.
We do need strong leadership on this issue, municipal, provincial and above all federal. But it has to be with the good of all Canadians, and all living beings, at heart --- not just the profit margin of any multinational industry, especially one as imperialistic as big oil.
Tofino, British Columbia
First of all, I am proud of those fellow Canadians who are taking the climate situation seriously, those who understand that what is needed is serious change in the way we live our lives.What I have not heard until this point is that what humanity is facing (particularly those in the Western world) is a spiritual and ethical crisis. In this society of morbid human consumption, is it not time to put meaning back into our lives? Should we not be asking ourselves questions such as "What do we really need to live a good life?", "What can I live without?", "How can I help my fellow humans?", and perhaps most importantly "How can I respect and care for the earth that provides our very life?"What does it matter the cause of climate change? It's time that we made a real shift that gets to the root of humankind's sickness. On a personal level, I live without a microwave, dishwasher, clothes dryer, cell phone, do not buy bottled water. I am pondering the idea of living without a car. I try to eat local and grow my own food.
My wife and I designed and built our home to be 100% solar powered. Extra insulation and efficient appliances keeps our overall energy needs extremely low. We use an insulated cistern to store heated water in the winter and in the summer it is used as a traditional cistern. We have a high amounts of thermal mass integrated into the floors and walls, and in floor heating. In the summer the thermal mass also buffers the indoor temperatures keeping them cooler. We had no experience in this, we just did our homework.
I would argue that reducing impacts to our climate is an individual responsibility and not just a corporate responsibility because making changes in our lives and lifestyles comes down to individual choices, and ultimately it is individuals who run corporations and governments. If being aware of the climate and making choices to protect it enter the general psyche of our society as normal, then corporations, who produce most CO2 emissions, and governments who have the power to make legislation to force corporations to reduce emissions, will change their ways. In my view this is the only way to solve the problem. Everyone needs to change their ways.
Someone suggested the solution is to use geo-engineering as the solution to mitigate climate change. I suggest this is a very risky idea as we would be indulging a in a huge experiment with an unpredictable outcome and likely unforeseen consequences. An earlier comment was made about population growth. May I refresh our collective memories by reminding the listeners that the "club of Rome", a think-tank, predicted, in the 70's I believe, that we needed to bring our population growth under control or suffer a dire outcome down the road. Well it's 40 years later, and we have almost arrived at that destination. It took only 12 years for our population to increase from 6 to 7 billion. Current data predicts we will be 9 billion by mid century. Most of us agree we live on a finite world with finite resources. We are using up these resources at an ever increasing rate which must eventually lead to the inevitable outcome of collapse. Every civilization which came before us has met this fate. It seems apparent to me our civilization is rapidly going down the same road as all the civilizations before us. If we fail to act then the result is quite clear. Perhaps it is already too late to change the outcome, but I believe we should try anyway. Fewer people should require less and should affect the earth less and perhaps it will recover with time.
Governments have failed to admit that our current system of Capitalism just isn't working and we need a total rethink of how the world economy works. More stuff for the sake of having more, with no end in sight, will lead to our destruction. These are my observations and this is my opinion. If we are not intelligent enough to agree to recognize the danger that faces us perhaps we do not deserve to escape the outcome. I do not know if it is too late but I believe the deadline to take significant action is fast approaching. For the sake of our civilizations' survival let's hope we succeed!
Halifax, Nova Scotia
If we quit the auto habit and adopt innovative public transit, electric, go carts, bikes, we will have less threat and a fresher more peaceful world stop the excuses about needing to drive.
Many people seem to be saying, it doesn't matter what we do, what matters is what China and India and Brazil do. What nonsense! Individuals have to do their part. Governments have to do their part. Industries have to do their part. We need advice from experts as to what we can realistically do, all the while the Harper government is systematically eliminating from the national conversation the voices of the experts who have good advice to offer.
A second point. Most people argue that we need the tar sands to have a healthy economy. What would we do without the tar sands? We'd look for other economic opportunities. We'd invest in research and education. We wouldn't just crawl under the covers and die. The tar sands are not essential. Having said that, if we continue exploiting the tar sands, I do think there is merit to refining the bitumen in Canada as opposed to shipping the raw product out of country.
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
I began to do something about my energy consumption when I returned to Canada (from England) in 1988. Almost everything we have done is affordable, incremental (could be done in small chunks) and cost effective.
We bought household appliances based on their water and electricity consumption, not their other features. These included a front load washing machine about 15 years before these had taken over the North American market. Our refrigerator has no freezer, avoiding the large energy drain caused by self-defrosting. Our freezer lives in the basement (where it is 15-16oC), so uses much less electricity than it would in a warm kitchen. Both have "skin cooled" condensers (the warm side is welded to the skin, so gathers no dust bunnies). Our central A/C has a water cooled condenser so uses 20% of the energy consume by one with an air-cooled condenser. The water it uses irrigates our garden. All of our light bulbs have been compact fluorescents from about 1990.
The net result is that our annual electricity consumption has been steady at 3300kWh. Until 2002, our annual electricity bill was about $400. Since then it has risen somewhat and now runs at around $500/year. The cost of electricity efficiency was $1900, but saving us $800 per year (now closer to $1000/year) this has been hugely cost-effective, representing a return on investment of better than 40%, guaranteed and tax free!
In 2002 we purchased a high efficiency furnace and greatly increased the depth of insulation in the attic. This decreased our annual gas consumption from 3000m3 to 2450m3 - an improvement of 19%. After government incentives, the cost of this was $1800. The return on investment was harder to calculate because of fluctuating gas prices, but I reckon that our investment was paid off in 7 years.
In 2007 we built a 2-storey extension onto our house. This was not to save energy, however, the builder was asked to make the new walls highly energy efficient. The wall insulation was R-32 instead of the R-18 of the remainder of the house. The windows were triple-glazed, low emissivity and argon filled. Gas consumption dropped from 2450m3 to 1800m3, an improvement of 26%. Our gas costs us $670 to $900 per year, depending on the gas price. Although building the extension cannot be considered cost effective, the lesson learned is that if the rest of the house had been insulated to that standard from the start, our annual gas cost would have been around $500, and the builder reckoned the house would have cost between $5000 - $8000 more than conventional building.
To finish off, both our cars have been VW diesels since 1988, and other diesels in England before then. These are not costly cars, and true (not the official test) fuel consumption is about 65% that of a similar gasoline vehicle. If we need a pick-up or minivan, we rent it!
Yes climates do repeat themselves and today we do have some ways prevent some things, soil erosion for example. But wouldn't make sense that things don't last forever and it would be better to find solutions now than to wait and scramble to fix it with more cost when the gun is to our heads. Climate change boils down in this society of who is making money from what and who has the better Ad agency. I believe there is global climate change and try to do my part and educate the grandkids as they educate me.
Manitoulin Island, Ontario
I think we're missing the point. If I may use an analogy, consider this. If you insert just one yeast cell into a volume of grape juice, that little bug "thinks it's gone to yeast heaven" and eats as much sugar as it can.It divides and then there two cells and so on exponentially until the yeast has excreted some alcohol and gas that the "atmosphere" is toxic. Even there may be a considerable volume of sugar left in the solution, the 15% of the volume is too much and is perilously toxic. It seems to me that that is just what the human population has accomplished to date. Just as the yeast cannot survive it's toxic atmosphere, so to is the evolving situation with the global human population. What can I do to change the situation? Volunteer to die sooner rather than later?
Carleton Place, Ontario
Global warming is happening and is caused by humans - vast majority of climate scientists agree on this - there is no scientific argument on this. Global warming is caused by air pollution (from humans). Like any other type of pollution, people have several choices, either reduce their pollution and or reduce their population or do nothing to reduce global warming to either reduce consumption of fossil fuels or reduce population or both. I think it's important to remember that the two variables that need to change are significantly different. Human population is growing exponentially so we need to reduce our consumption to the ninth degree to counter act the effects of global warming.
Our government in Canada should heed that advice and stop listening to those who want to fiddle while the earth burns. We need a comprehensive climate change action and strategy. We can change all the light bulbs we want but we as a nation has to do something as a nation.
We all have to change our perspective: there is no "away" to throw things to, we are a part of the air water and earth around us and whatever we do to these we do to ourselves. Unrestricted growth is cancer! It is not sustainable. If we shift our beliefs it will change our behaviors.
Reduction of GHG as part of Climate change response is rather simple for daily life - reduction of reliance on cars for transportation and reduction of energy use for everyday chores. This reduction will generally save money and improve the general health of the participant. For example- riding a bike, taking the bus, walking greatly improves health as does sweeping the floor/ driveway instead of vacuum or leaf blowing. Use your imagination to find numerous ways to benefit your life style and contribute to reduction of climate change- it is a mind / attitude change that is needed first.
Delta/ Tsawwassen, British Columbia
I cut my greenhouse gas emissions to half of the average without pain. I'm happier, healthier, saving money and won't be embarrassed when, in a few years, my grandchildren ask what I did to try to prevent imminent climate catastrophe. The overwhelming majority of real scientists has for years accepted the reality of global warming. Deniers are almost always being paid by the big corporations that make their money by selling fossil fuels. While CBC is much more honest than media owned by the big corporations, CBC sadly, still often uses false balance in climate reporting; They pick for debate one of the 50,000 scientists who accept global warming, and one of the 3 deniers, then call that balanced! Please accept that there has been no valid controversy for decades, and shift to the true debate on what we can best do to mitigate it and save us from disaster.
Mission, British Columbia
Firstly, I'd like to highlight that I really don't care what what retirees or the average person thinks about climate change. If experts and people who are involved in environmental monitoring and management say climate change is happening, we should believe it. What does it matter what the rest of the population who are not experts on the matter think?
How do I adjust my life to lessen my footprint? I live within walking distance of work and take the bus where-ever I can. I buy local. I use as little energy as I can. I attempt to think beyond my immediate needs and think of what I'm leaving behind as a result of my day-to-day life. It's not that hard. We have it pretty good in North America. Just try remember your re-usable bags and coffee mugs, and incorporate these small habits into a daily lifestyle. Nothing but good can come from it.
I think we need to fundamentally rethink our capitalist system of ever increasing production so that consumers (be they business, government or individuals) are paying the full life cycle costs of whatever product or service they consume - that is, the cost of extraction, production, use and disposal of the item, including its impact on the environment. Of course if the consumers are paying the cost they will naturally choose the products with the lowest impact and greatest durability. I suspect that will quickly put an end to cheap junk with built-in obsolescence!
We currently have a situation where energy inputs are subsidized, and there is no consideration given to the long term environmental impact of any of the products we produce, consume and dispose. We are downloading the real costs to future generations. The challenge is to coordinate this across international jurisdictions, since for example if the United States doesn't follow this model, then Canada would have to impose "life cycle" duties for imported products at the border. This would constitute a "trade barrier" in their eyes. Government has an active role to play in this. If we leave the current model in place, there is no incentive to change.
20 years ago, in Science Magazine, I saw a systems table about climate change which predicted that the interior of the continent would dry up and the wet coast would become even wetter. We are seeing that, now. There are also fewer birds around in the spring.
Our planet is a system, and so its functioning is not understandable by people who only think in linear terms. We have been educated to think that linear logic alone is the answer to everything. Unfortunately, that is how economists think. Systems change by tipping points into a new "steady state" They do not change linearly. We will not see a gradual change, as if we were frogs in boiling water, but we will experience "surprising" cataclysms which seem to have come from nowhere. That is how systems operate.
Is it not about time our Media, at least, learned the difference between logic and systems operation?
Whoever it was that got across the idea that climate change was something you could "believe in", as if it were a religious discussion about the sex and whereabouts of some mythical figure who lives in the sky, was a real genius. Do you "believe in oxygen?" Yet you have to rely on a scientist who has done the research and questioned Nature in infallible methodology, that there is such a thing as oxygen.
Here are some real figures. At 2 degrees Celsius, scientists predict a tipping point in the system which is our planet's climate. We are now at .08 Celsius increase since the beginning of the industrial revolution. The limit for loading our atmosphere with CO2 is calculated to be 565 gigatons maximum when the tipping point for cataclysmic warming will occur. What is already in our atmosphere, today, will, in sixteen years, double the carbon load in the atmosphere to .16 degrees Celsius. There are still 2795 gigatons of carbon in the ground.
Gabriola, British Columbia
Of course climate is changing, always changing. Notice it`s not called "global warming" anymore mainly because temperatures have stopped rising. We only started monitoring global temperatures in the 1880s..when were coming off a "mini ice-age". I recall in the early 70s the major concern was global cooling and the effect this would have on crops the world over. There have been many studies done of the historical record that shows CO2 follows temperature increase not the other way around. I have read studies by Prof Akasofu founding director of the International Arctic Research Centre who is skeptical of the impact of humans on temp. I have also read studies by Prof John Christy( among others)lead author of the IPCC study who is also skeptical and had his research deleted from the study because it did not meet the already decided outcome. There are many thousands of climate scientists that are being censored due to their disagreement with the IPCC(80% of which were not scientists).There have been times in relatively recent history when the temps have been far cooler than today as well as far warmer. I also believe in a biotic oil and that the earth generates oil on an ongoing basis. We do need to work for clean air and water etc.
Burnaby, British Columbia
I believe that climate change is happening and that the actions of humans are increasing the rate of climate change to the extent that flora and fauna are unable to adapt quickly enough to be able to survive, if their habitat still exists. This will change the environments in which we have lived.
It is not just about climate change, it's that we cannot continue to live as we are living on this planet: consuming, polluting, destroying, reproducing beyond the ability to provide basic necessities.
In addition to living a green lifestyle, what I am prepared to do now is to no longer remain silent but to actively participate in protests on the inactions and shameful short sighted, economy driven policies of our governments, particularly at the federal level, on climate change, the environment and our natural resources and agriculture. There are green alternatives that can benefit the environment and the economy. I am prepared to pay more taxes to address the climate change problems and to change people's lifestyles and create green economies.
Bowen Island, British Columbia
"What are you prepared to do about Climate Change?" It's a good question. I work in the renewable energy industry (with a renewable energy services company called Terratek Energy Solutions, and previous to that I managed an incentive-based solar hot water program, SolarBC).
A question we get a lot is "what is the ROI on solar hot water (or PV)?" Yet, we don't see any ROI on hydro bills, marble counter tops or nice cars. The bottom line is that we need to look at a few factors to understand the real ROI, such as escalating energy cost, increased value and peace of mind. One of our partners, Jason, with Stage 3 Renewables, summed it up best in a recent blog:
It would be great if gas was always going to be a dollar a litre or electricity 0.08$/kWh. But it won't. We have seen periodic price spikes in energy cost more than 10 times the inflation rate and the price of natural gas in BC double between 2002-2007. Also consider that the capital investment and reduced operating cost of a solar installation will often "payback" at resale!
Finally, in this day and age it's impossible to put a price on environment. The extra electricity we consume and fossil fuels we burn, while good alternatives are out there, is just digging a bigger hole for future generations. With this in mind, isn't the promise of reduced energy bills and cleaner living worth something?
As one of the largest oil producers in the world, Canada can do a significant amount to help mitigate climate change, as well as employing adaptive measures that will help ensure the standard of living that my generation is entitled to, as it is the standard of living that those born prior to 1989 have enjoyed throughout their lives. I mention 1989 because this is when James Hansen, a NASA scientist, approached the American Congress to speak about climate change, something that he deemed would be the biggest challenge ever faced by humanity. The fact that policy makers and government officials in Canada and the United States failed to act after Hansen's alert to our planet's changing nature, constitutes a criminal act against those born after 1989.
Government is key to mitigating climate change, with collective action necessary to alerting governments to the change demanded by the polity. Climate change is the result of human action - there are numerous peer reviewed scholars who will attest to this. However, as exemplified by many CBC callers, we have a reluctance in our country to give up burning fossil fuels, as this action is part of our routine and our daily habits. This is why government needs to regulate against the burning of fossil fuels, and explore alternative energy, the technology for which already exists (opposed to that of geoengineering which has yet to see success and which many environmentalists hazard to call more than a pipe dream). Hybrid airplanes and cars exist, wind, geothermal and solar energy can be rendered to heat our homes and our places of employment - the problem is that there are no incentives to purchase these technologies, and even fewer to encourage their further development.
Fossil fuels, and the tar sands, are not regenerative - they are being depleted, so eventually we will have to stop burning them, because they will cease to exist. However by that point, the human race may cease to exist as well I do not drive a car, I ride my bike and take public transit to the University where we are told frequently that people must curb their ways. I don't eat meat (though I see nothing wrong with eating sustainably raised livestock), I make an effort to buy local and organic (though I'm on a limited income, because it's not that much more expensive!), and I compost. These are all easy, individual actions that everyone in Canada can do. We cannot make excuses by saying that Canada is a small actor (it's not, it's a huge contributor to the climate crisis), and geoengineering is not a solution, it is a carbon lobbyist's dream.
There is a reason why youth such as myself believe so voraciously in environmentalism and combating climate change: it is because if we don't, we will not live to the same age as our lawmakers. If we continue at the rate that we are, the world will be largely uninhabitable by 2100. Knowing this as a 23 year-old woman, that virtually strips me of the ability to bear children, or if I did, for my children to bear children, as who would place someone into the mouth of a lion? Denying my fundamental right to procreate with the person I love is an absolute violation of my human right, and additionally, threatening the future of my own life with the inevitability of food and water shortages, unbearable weather conditions, declining air quality, and the unknown effects of ocean warming is an outright crime against humanity. Such is the reality facing all people born after 1989.
Vancouver, British Columbia
One aspect that has not been mentioned is the effect of buying organic certified foods. traditional farming has been using stores of organic carbon out of the soil , putting them effectively in the air. Scientific data on organic farming shows that this form of farming captures carbon out of the air and stores it in the ground by increasing the organic matter in the ground . Conventional industrial farming uses more hydrocarbons to power their machines and fertilizer and oalso have depleted the organic matter in the soil by 50%. Consider buying local organic produce.
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
There is no debate among 99% of scientists about global warming being man made and its known consequences (let alone unknown consequences) as being catastrophic. I believe some media fear mongering and more concentration by the media on this topic is past due. Strict and costly government regulation is necessary and now. Voluntary measures don't work. People have got to be informed so they will take this with the seriousness it deserves