Climate change affects Islanders each day, says expert

People who live on islands are more susceptible to the effects of climate change, says an expert on the topic.

Biologist says everyone can make changes to help lessen climate change

Catherine Potvin says wind energy will help the fight against climate change. (CBC)

People who live on islands are more susceptible to the effects of climate change, says an expert on the topic.

Catherine Potvin said the erosion of the coastline brings climate change to the day-to-day life of Islanders.

As a plant biologist specializing in global change ecology, Potvin said the two areas that will be the most affected in Canada because of climate change are the Arctic and islands.

Catherine Potvin says Islanders can have an impact on climate change by making changes to their transportation. (Angela Walker)
"So you are very much at the forefront here," Potvin told CBC Mainstreet host Angela Walker.

Potvin, who graduated with a PHD in climate change in 1985, said everything that was predicted and forecast over the last 20 years is coming true.

"We can't ignore them and the good news is it really feels now that Canada, and the world as well has finally woken up and we're starting this very needed transition."

Carbon-neutral Canada

Potvin was in Charlottetown as a keynote speaker at the conference on building small island resilience to global climate change. She says this can be done by moving toward becoming a carbon-neutral Canada.

She said that means having electricity that has zero carbon.

"Why? Because electricity is an energy that is everywhere in Canada and so once this electricity has no carbon in it which means we're not using coal, or we're not using diesel to produce it.

Once we have this electricity that is a zero carbon, then we can electrify it, we can electrify houses, we can electrify industrial processes. That will allow us to get rid of a lot of emissions."

Potvin said P.E.I. was using wind energy and was a pioneer in researching new ways to provide power to Islanders.

She also suggested Islanders could look at their modes of transportation as a way to start making changes to have an impact on climate change.

"It means maybe car sharing, maybe asking for bike lanes, increasing public transit, less reliance on just me alone in my car."

Potvin added people should also start thinking about reducing the size of theirs homes and cars which would mean less energy would be needed for heat and fuel.

With files from Mainstreet