CLIMATE CRISIS NEWS – July 24, 2020

ALARM:   As the RCMP investigation into the Columbia Icefield tragedy continues, the Edmonton Journal is reporting that a contributing factor may have been instability in the  moraine – ground-up rocks, silt, sand, and ice strewn aside by the glacier as it moves – surrounding the terminus of the ice sheet. According to glacier expert, Dr. Jeffrey Kavanaugh of the University of Alberta, it’s possible that part of the steep slope of the moraine where the bus was travelling may have collapsed. “As the sediments (in the moraine) are warmed by the sun, it melts the ice,” said Kavanaugh. It can become runny and mucky and even cause a landslide.  As global warming causes glaciers around the world to melt – the Athabasca glacier may entirely disappear by 2100 – unstable moraines are an emerging hazard in the mountains.

ENCOURAGEMENT:   Britain’s Guardian newspaper has decided to put global CO2 levels on its weather forecast page. As CO2 levels continue to climb, the carbon count will serve as a daily reminder that we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions now. At an unprecedented 414 parts per million (ppm) as of July 20, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest it’s been in millions of years. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the level was 280 ppm. A concentration of 350 ppm is the highest seen as manageable. I would encourage people to ask Environment Canada, the Weather Network, the CBC, and CHEX-Global Peterborough to do the same on all their weather platforms, including on-air weather reports.   

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CLIMATE CRISIS NEWS – JULY 17, 2020

ALARM: Scientists have now determined that the unprecedented heat wave we just experienced is another manifestation of climate change. Human-caused warming of the Arctic has resulted in a weakened Jet Stream. This is the high-altitude wind that pushes around air masses and affects weather patterns. The Jet Stream has become “loopy” (like an S laying on its side), locking in weather systems for weeks on end. BC has been cool and wet, while points east have suffered from extreme heat. The same phenomenon explains the devastating fires in Siberia.  

ENCOURAGEMENT:  Joe Biden has just released a $2 trillion plan to boost investment in clean energy and stop all greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035. He argues that dramatic action of this kind addresses both climate change and reviving the economy. 

For local climate news and ways to take action, visit https://forourgrandchildren.ca/ and subscribe to the newsletter.

CLIMATE CRISIS NEWS – JULY 10, 2020

ALARM: If the 14-day weather forecast for Peterborough proves accurate, we will have had 24 days of temperatures above 30 C by July 20 – and still eight weeks of summer to go. Just two years ago, the temperature soared above 30 C on 28 days, based on data from Peterborough Trent U station. (See https://bit.ly/2W0SpFn ) However, keep in mind that in the 1990s, an average year saw only 6.3 days above this threshold. Climatic projections for Peterborough predict an average 23.3 days above 30 C by the 2030s. Statistics like these need to be part of local TV and radio weather reports, because most people have no idea how fast the Kawarthas are warming.

ENCOURAGEMENT:  We may be approaching a tipping point in the transition off fossil fuels. Two mammoth fossil fuel companies declared in the last two weeks that they will downgrade the value of their own assets by as much as US$39.5 billion.  Royal Dutch Shell said it would slash the value of its oil and gas assets by up to $22 billion amid a crash in oil prices. In late June, British Petroleum also declared “stranded assets”. A stranded asset is something — a resource, for example — that once had value or produced income but no longer does, usually due to some kind of external change. BP said it would reduce the value of its assets by up to $17.5 billion. Both companies said the accounting moves were a response to both the coronavirus-driven recession and global efforts to tackle climate change.

For local climate news and ways to take action, visit https://forourgrandchildren.ca/ and subscribe to the newsletter.

CLIMATE CRISIS NEWS – July 3, 2020

ALARM: At the coldest point on Earth, temperatures are rising fast. Data from the South Pole shows that over the past 30 years, the region has warmed three times faster than the warming rate of the planet as a whole. The study was published Monday in the journal “Nature Climate Change”. “The South Pole seemed to be isolated from what was going on across the rest of the world,” said researcher Kyle Clem. “But all of a sudden, it ramps up with rapid warming, some of the strongest warming on the planet.” The researchers believe that part of the warming is part of a multi-decade natural process, but that the rest is due to human-induced climate change. So far, the temperature changes haven’t been significant enough to cause any massive ice loss at Antarctica’s interior. Still, the bottom line is that the Antarctic is “waking up” to climate change – and that is alarming.

ENCOURAGEMENT: Members of the local climate group, For Our Grandchildren, along with Malaika Collette of Peterborough Youth Empowerment, presented a motion to Peterborough County Council last week to declare a climate change emergency. The motion was passed with no changes after a long and largely positive discussion. The matter has now been referred to the Director, Corporate Projects & Services, for a report back to Council. Let’s hope the declaration is made!

For local climate news and ways to take action, visit https://forourgrandchildren.ca/ and subscribe to the newsletter.

CLIMATE CRISIS NEWS – JUNE 19, 2020

OUTRAGE:  A new report by Environment and Climate Change Canada (https://bit.ly/30K6BFX ) confirms that climate change has made rainfall events more frequent, more severe, and the cause of billions of dollars of damages. It also notes a marked increase in claims from extreme weather damage in Canada. It stated that so-called ‘one-in-20, 50 or 100-year’ events can be expected to occur with far greater frequency with just a 1C temperature increase over pre-industrial averages. Earth is now approaching 1.3C of warming.

OPTIMISM: Unilever NV is now the most ambitious of any consumer goods company when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. The maker of Dove skincare and Q-tips cotton swabs now aims to cut all emissions associated with its products by half by 2030 and to zero by 2039.  Each of the company’s 70,000 products will also show on their labels how much greenhouse gas was emitted during manufacturing and shipping.

CLIMATE CRISIS NEWS – June 12, 2020

            The racial inequality crisis is also intertwined with the climate crisis. People of colour disproportionately bear climate impacts, from storms to heat waves to pollution. We also need people of all races involved in this fight. Diversity of opinion and perspective leads to better decision-making and more effective strategies. We need to work on both at the same time, just like we need to recognize that the emergence of new deadly viruses will only increase as climate change worsens. 

As COVID-19 and the unparalleled public outcry against racism occupy nearly all of the media’s attention, we might need reminding that the climate crisis is only getting worse. Last month was Earth’s hottest May on record. At the same time, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere hit a record 417 parts per million (ppm), up from 414.8 ppm the previous May. Before the Industrial Revolution, global average CO2 was about 280 ppm. What’s more, the 12-month period that ended in May saw average global temperatures reach 1.3 degrees Celsius above the preindustrialnorm. The consensus among climate scientists is that we must avoid warming of more than 1.5 degrees above that benchmark.  

Climate Crisis News – June 5, 2020

            Christina Figueres, who headed up the UN climate change convention that achieved the 2015 Paris Agreement, wrote the following in The Guardian on June 1. “The recovery packages designed and implemented by governments to rescue the ailing global economy could rise as high as 20 trillion dollars over the next 18 months. The scale of this stimulus will shape the contours of the global economy over the next decade, if not longer. This is precisely the decade when climate scientists have warned global emissions will need to be cut by half in order to reach a sustainable trajectory. In the midst of the crisis wreaked by the pandemic is an opportunity: to ensure rescue packages don’t merely recover the high carbon economy of yesterday, but help us build a healthier economy that is low on carbon, high in resilience and centred on human well-being.”

Climate Crisis News – May 22, 2020

As the extent of the economic damage caused by COVID-19 becomes clear, a new Canadian task force has been established whose goal is to help seize a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to pursue a green recovery. The 14 members include people like Mitchell Davidson, the former director of policy for Premier Doug Ford. The group wants to focus on projects that can start quickly and fit within larger goals like reducing emissions. Areas for potential action include retrofitting homes and buildings, expanding the production of hydrogen (particularly in Alberta), and providing more federal funding of electric buses.

Climate Crisis News – May 15, 2020

Yuval Noah Harari, the international bestselling author of “Sapiens”, was a recent guest on the “Outrage and Optimism” podcast mentioned above. When asked about the pandemic, he said he’s very encouraged by the apparent change in attitude by so many politicians and much of the public when it comes to science. “We’re seeing that people all over the world are turning to the scientists as the best authority on what to do… I hope that this spirit will carry on even after this immediate crisis is over and that when scientists warn us about climate change, we will take it as seriously as we now take what they say about the pandemic. And, it’s a much bigger danger than COVID-19. It’s ecological collapse. Hopefully, this is a necessary wake-up call for humanity.”

Climate Crisis News – May 08, 2020

Although climate change is not receiving the same media attention it did only two months ago, the crisis is not going away. Here are some recent news items – some unsettling but others inspiring – that we should all be aware of.

  1. 2020 has more than a 70 percent chance of being the warmest year on record. 
  2. March 2020 was the planet’s second-warmest March since records began in 1880. Because there is no El Nino this year to boost temperatures, the near-record March temperatures are all the more notable.
  3. Numerous scientists have been pointing out recently that many of the root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics. Deforestation, which is the largest cause of habitat loss worldwide, forces animals to migrate and potentially contact other animals or people and share germs.
  4. The world’s richest nations must ensure their COVID-19 recovery plans are sustainable and help meet the goals of the Paris climate accord. While some of the world’s 20 biggest economies such as Canada, Britain, France and Germany have made statements about doing just that, the biggest emitters such as China and the United States have yet to do so.
  5. As Amsterdam plans for its post-coronavirus recovery, it’s not looking at traditional financial measures of recovery. Instead, it will be the first city in the world to officially adopt the “doughnut” model of economics. The model, which is shaped like a doughnut, is avisual framework for sustainable development, which combines the concept of planetary boundaries with the complementary concept of social boundaries.[1] The model regards the performance of an economy by the extent to which the needs of people are met without overshooting Earth’s ecological ceiling. Amsterdam wants to answer the question: “How can our city be home to thriving people, in a thriving place, while respecting the well-being of all people and the health of the whole planet?”

Climate Crisis Update – Jan. 24, 2020

One reason the climate crisis takes such a heavy psychological toll is the knowledge that the root cause is the way we live. It is no wonder we feel powerless. What can one person do?  A January 10 article in the New York Times by Emma Marris provides some useful guidance.  Step 1: Ditch the shame. The way our society is structured – mostly because of systems constructed by powerful corporations and complicit governments – make effective individual action nearly impossible. Step 2: Focus on systems, not yourself. The crisis can only be solved through electing the right people, implementing the right laws and regulations, and signing the right treaties. Step 3: Join an effective climate group, or volunteer for a political party or candidate. Step 4: Define your role. Offer the skills and resources you already have, even if all you can do is donate money. Working with a group can also reduce your climate anxiety. Step 5: Know what you are fighting for, namely a realistically good future for all – a future in which  children no longer need to protest in the streets because their parents and grandparents took action. Imagine dense but livable cities veined with public transit and leafy parks, plant-based diets, durable and repairable consumer goods, species recovering… As Marris says, “This future is still possible. But it will only come to pass if we shed our shame, stop focusing on ourselves, join together, and demand it”

Climate Action Event – January 17, 2020

              On Saturday, January 18, elder Dorothy Taylor from Curve Lake First Nation will join For Our Grandchildren and the Sacred Water Circle to help launch an exciting initiative and website called Kina gdi-gwendaagininaanig – To All Our Relatives. The purpose of the website at toallourrelatives.ca/  is to share your climate concerns and action promises with someone you love in order to let them know you care. This can be done through a short video, a simple letter, or a photo of yourself with a sign, all of which can be uploaded to the website. The event takes place from 2-4 pm in Trinity United Church hall, off Simcoe St. 

This project arose from a wonderful conversation For Our Grandchildren representatives had with two Anishinaabe Elders as they searched for the best way to address the climate crisis. The Anishinaabe way of including all life in the circle of responsibility, reciprocity, respect, and recognition are at the root of this website. If all Canadians understood the need to connect with the earth deeply, and to live a life of gratitude, we would not be facing a climate crisis. Even if you are not able to attend the event itself, please take time to visit the website and enter the message you want for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, friends, or even your future self. 

Climate Crisis Update – December 20, 2019

The COP25 climate talks wrapped up in Madrid last Sunday. Here are six takeaways. 1. There was no agreement on a global system of carbon markets and offsets. The issue is back on the agenda for climate talks next year. 2. There was agreement on a call to boost emissions reductions. 3. Finance remains a major sticking point as developed nations watered down any calls for new financial support for those nations most vulnerable to climate change. 4. The divide between old emitters (e.g., the U.S) and new emitters (e.g., China, India and Brazil) over the responsibility to cut emissions remains. 5. There is a widening gulf between the expectations of climate activists – especially youth – and climate negotiators. “The climate talks are over for this year, but citizen activism is not,” May Boeve, the executive director of grassroots movement 350.org, said Sunday, pledging “to keep marching and disrupting and pressuring our politicians.” 6. There is a sense that global climate efforts are in a political and procedural crisis. Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International’s director, said that “governments need to completely rethink how they do this, because the outcome of COP25 is totally unacceptable.” The bottom line is that for most corporate and political leaders in the world, there is still no sense that we’re in the midst of a climate emergency.

Climate Crisis Update – December 13, 2019

A recent study (https://bit.ly/34csewG) of computer climate models from all the way back to the 1970s found a high degree of accuracy when compared to what actually happened with Earth’s climate in the decades that followed. This raises confidence in modern models, which are far more sophisticated and factor in many more variables. These models, of course, are predicting catastrophic changes for the climate if drastic action is not taken immediately.
A peer-reviewed study in Ecology Letters (https://bit.ly/35cvwRU) has revealed that migratory birds in North America are shrinking, most likely as a result of warming temperatures caused by climate change. Not only are they losing body weight, but the birds’ legs are growing shorter. Their wings, however, are getting longer. The researchers analyzed the measurements of 70,716 bird specimens of 52 species over a 40-year period. The findings suggest that warming-induced body size reduction is a general response to climate change. The same phenomenon is being seen in salamanders.

Climate Crisis Update – December 6, 2019

A plethora of major climate reports have come out in recent weeks to help set the stage for the COP 25 climate talks, which continue in Madrid. Here are some of the key findings: 1. The United Nations Emissions Gap report for 2019 (unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2019https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2019) says that despite scientific warnings and political commitments, greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise at about 1.5 percent per year. There is no sign of emissions peaking in the next few years. 2. According to the World Meteorological Organization (public.wmo.int/en/media), levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached another new record high in 2018 at 407.8 parts per million. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also surged. 3. Another United Nations study (productiongap.org/2019report/) found that governments are planning to produce about 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 2°C and 120% more than would keep warming to 1.5 C. This is putting the world on track to warm by a disastrous 3 degrees C by 2100 and makes meeting the Paris targets  virtually impossible. Canada’s oil and natural gas production is projected to increase 60% and 34%, respectively, between 2017 and 2040. The report says that “once built, new infrastructure (e.g., pipelines) is difficult to turn away from.” 4. A frightening commentary in the journal Nature (nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0) reports  growing evidence that irreversible “tipping points” in which one shift amplifies another could be triggered within a few decades. Some models suggest that the Greenland ice sheet could be doomed to disappear if the world warms by just 1.5 C. The Amundsen Sea embayment of West Antarctica might have already passed a tipping point, which could lead to the rest of the West Antarctic ice sheet toppling like dominoes. On a positive note, an article in the Independent (independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news) says that headteachers and psychotherapists in the U.K. report that involvement in climate change activism is reducing symptoms of “eco-anxiety” among young people and boosting their wellbeing.

Climate Crisis Update – November 8, 2019

The world’s largest oil and gas companies would need to slash their production by more than a third by 2040 to meet international climate targets, according to a new report from Carbon Tracker. You can read the report at carbontracker.org/reports/balancing-the-budget/. The seven listed oil majors, which include ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell, would need to cut daily production by 35 percent to avoid driving temperatures 1.5 degrees C higher than pre-industrial levels. This means that governments would also need to stop issuing new oil and gas licenses for fossil fuel exploration. The report showed that global oil projects that have already been approved are almost enough to meet demand in a 1.6 degrees C scenario and there is “very little headroom for new fossil fuel projects.” Reports such as these question the advisability of  any future expansion of the Alberta oilsands.

Climate Crisis Update – November 1, 2019

Although the outcome of the federal election provides reason for guarded optimism for more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction, few of us really understand the scale of the climate challenge. This is why I recommend reading “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming”, by David Wallace-Wells. As he writes in the first sentence of the book, “It is worse, much worse, than you think.”  The author lays out in terrifying detail what the coming decades will look like should we continue on our present carbon emissions trajectory. In fact, the elements of climate chaos are so horrendous that halfway through the book Wallace-Wells commends any reader who has “made it this far”. At the same time, he points out that we already have all the tools we need to avoid a worst case scenario. These include “a carbon tax and the political apparatus to aggressively phase out dirty energy; a new approach to agricultural practices and a shift away from beef and dairy in the global diet; and public investment in green energy and carbon capture”. However, Wallace-Wells acknowledges that acting quickly enough will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

Climate Crisis Update – October 18, 2019

As we head to the polls on Monday, let’s remember the importance of keeping the climate crisis front and centre in our minds. A recent article in Maclean’s by Canadian climate scientist, Kathyrn Hayhoe, and economist, Andrew Leach, graded each party’s climate plan. They give the Liberal’s plan a B for ambition and an A for feasibility; the NDP’s plan an A for ambition and a D for feasibility; the Green’s plan an A+ for ambition and a C- for feasibility; and the Conservative’s plan a D for ambition and a F for feasibility. The high marks given by experts to the Liberal plan have made my decision much easier.

Climate Crisis Events – September 20, 2019

Be sure to drop by the climate-crisis booth at the Purple Onion Festival at Millennium Park on Sunday, Sept. 22. There will be information on how to reduce your personal carbon footprint as well as petitions to be signed to urge city council to declare a climate emergency as soon as possible. Other climate events scheduled for the coming weeks include the Global Climate Action Day (Sept. 27 at Millennium Park from 12:00-3:00 pm) and 100 Debates on the Environment (Oct. 3 at the Students Centre at Trent University from 7:00-9:00 pm.) The local candidates in the federal election will be taking part. This event had previously been scheduled to take place at Trinity United Church. 100 Debates for the Environment is a non-partisan, nationwide effort to highlight environmental issues in the election. More information can be found at 100debates.ca.

Climate Crisis Update – September 13, 2019

The most disappointing climate news this week was Monday’s decision by city council to defer declaring a climate emergency this fall and, instead, ask for a staff report on the matter. The report is not expected until early 2020. Given the urgency of addressing the quickly worsening climate crisis, this decision is most troubling. When we cast our votes next month, climate change should be front and centre in our minds. Declaring a climate emergency in Peterborough ahead of the election is therefore incredibly important. It would be a powerful tool in focusing voters’ attention.

There might be a compromise solution, however. A climate emergency could still be brought forward and ratified by council on September 23, while specific actions tied to the declaration would  be announced when reports are received from city staff and from the new Environmental Advisory Committee in early 2020.

On Wednesday evening, Kingston city councillor Robert Kylie spoke at a standing-room-only meeting on climate change, organized by Peterborough Youth Empowerment. He explained how Kingston went about declaring a climate emergency last March. One of the “whys” for the declaration is the huge impact that the coming extreme heat events will have on Kingston’s large population of seniors. As in Peterborough, they are among Kingston’s most vulnerable people. To their credit, Peterborough councillors Clarke, Parnell, Vassiliadis, Baldwin, Riel, and Akapo attended the event. Let’s hope that they, too, feel the urgency of supporting an immediate climate emergency declaration the same way that Kingston councillors did. In Kingston, support for the declaration was unanimous.

Climate Crisis Event – September 6, 2019

On September 11, Peterborough Youth Empowerment will hold a forum to discuss what Peterborough can do at the municipal level to address the Climate Crisis. The meeting takes place at the Peterborough Public Library from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Robert Kiley, a Kingston municipal councillor, will explain how his council found the will to declare a Climate Emergency and how Peterborough can follow suit. Local climate activist, Al Slavin, will speak on some of the actions that are possible at the municipal level. Other climate events scheduled for the coming weeks include the Global Climate Action Day (Sept. 27 at Millennium Park from 12:00-3:00 pm) and 100 Debates on the Environment (Oct. 3 at Trinity United Church from 7:00 – 9:00 pm). The quickly worsening climate crisis should be top-of-mind when we cast our votes in October.

Climate Crisis Update – August 9, 2019

Quickly accelerating climate change is once again the story this summer. July was the hottest of any month in our planet’s recorded history. All-time high temperature records were shattered across Europe with Paris reaching a historic 42.6 C (108.7 F). On August 1, Greenland shedded a record 12.5 billion tons of meltwater into the sea, enough to fill 5 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. We also learned that if the IPCC’s target of a 45% carbon cut by 2030 is to be met, the plans need to be on the table by the end of 2020. This underscores the importance of assuring Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives do not take power in October.

If there is any good news, it’s the marked increase in public interest in climate change and a hunger for solutions that people can put in place in their own lives. As Sarah Lazarovic pointed out in the August issue of MacLean’s magazine, the first rule of the climate crisis is: TALK ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS. With friends, with family, and even with strangers. Share your fears about your family’s future and your desire for aggressive climate policies.

Climate Crisis Update – July 19, 2019

Climate alarm bells just keep on ringing. Boosted by a historic heat wave in Europe with temperatures reaching 45.9 C in France, Earth just registered its warmest June ever. July is on track to set a new heat record as well. Unprecedented warming is also continuing unabated in the Arctic. This past Sunday, Canadian Forces Station Alert, located at the tip of Ellesmere Island, hit a record 21 C, which was warmer than Victoria, B.C.  The normal is 7 C. For a sobering overview of just how serious the climate crisis is – and what can be done about it –  pick up the August issue of MacLean’s magazine. It includes a 26-page section entitled “The Climate Crisis. And how to stop it.”

Climate Crisis Update – July 19, 2019

If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer, I highly recommend “The Overstory”, by Richard Powers. It won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and is being touted as the first great American ecological novel. In telling the story of people whose lives have been profoundly affected by trees, Powers incorporates the latest tree science. This includes how trees engage in social behaviours and communicate with one another. The Overstory also fits well within the growing genre of “climate fiction” by exploring the effects of humans’ impact on the Earth. As Powers writes, “Life will cook; the seas will rise. The planet’s lungs will be ripped out. And the law will let this happen, because harm was never imminent enough. Imminent, at the time of people, is too late. The law must judge imminent at the speed of trees.”

Climate Crisis Update – June 21, 2019

Don’t miss the CBC News series on the climate crisis called In Our Backyard. As the series’ website states, “Climate change is real, it’s happening right now, and it’s in our backyard in devastating, even deadly ways. Its fingerprints are all over this spring’s floods and wildfires.” In addition to looking at floods and fires, the series details how the climate crisis is affecting the lives of Canadians through extreme heat and Arctic thaw. To find the series online, go to cbc.ca/confrontingcarbon and scroll down to the In Our Backyard links. I would also recommend subscribing to CBC’s environmental newsletter, What on Earth? and the CBC podcast entitled Front Burner, especially the episode from June 18 on what it would take for Canada to meet its climate targets. As Diane Saxe, the former Environment Commissioner for Ontario says repeatedly, the climate crisis is far worse than you think. For an excellent overview of the situation in Ontario, search “Diane Saxe speaking on Climate Action – YouTube”

Climate Crisis Update – June 14, 2019

A growing number of local groups and citizens want the City of Peterborough to declare a Climate Emergency. Several hundred Canadian municipalities have already done so, including Kingston, London, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Ottawa. There are still too many Peterborough citizens who are not engaged with this issue. Some people still think, “If things were that serious, our elected officials would be saying so.” This is the essence of why a declaration is so necessary. It would be a call to action on the part of the entire community. A Climate Emergency declaration would also support the Greater Peterborough Climate Action Plan, which city council has endorsed. Strategies in the plan include the need to “foster a culture of climate change awareness” and to “encourage civic engagement around climate change.” Citizens need to be informed in they’re to act in their own best interests, such as preparing our homes for the coming severe weather events. A declaration might also inspire people to get involved in the upcoming election and provide the “social license” to share their concerns about the climate crisis with others. Right now, it’s a no-go zone for many people. In many ways, the quickest path to meaningful action on climate change is at the municipal level.

Climate Change Update – June 7, 2019

Although it seems counter-intuitive, the cold, wet weather we’ve experienced this spring in the Kawarthas may be due to a quickly warming Arctic. Research is now linking increased Arctic warming to a weakened jet stream – the narrow band of high-altitude wind that blows west to east across the Northern Hemisphere and controls our daily weather. Instead of usually blowing straight as it used to, the jet stream is now meandering much more to the north and south like an S lying on its side. It is also becoming stuck in place. When this happens, the same weather conditions can last for weeks on end. Right now, a bend to the south over eastern Canada is allowing cold Arctic air to drop down into our latitudes. The opposite happened last summer when a bend to the north ushered in blistering heat from the south, which lasted for weeks and killed scores of people in Quebec.

Climate Crisis Event – May 24, 2019

Across the country people are gathering to brainstorm solutions to the climate crisis. The ideas will be compiled to form a collective vision for Canada’s Green New Deal – one that provides a vision for a new economy where no one gets left behind. Your input is needed! The Peterborough meeting will take place May 30 at Trinity United Church, 360 Reid St., starting at 6 p.m. For more information, go to Facebook and search for “Green New Deal – Peterborough”  I also invite people to listen to the latest episode of Tapestry on CBC radio to get a true sense of the magnitude of the climate crisis.

Climate Crisis Update & Arguments – May 10, 2019

In a U.N. report released this week, we learned that up to 1 million of the Earth’s plant and animal species are at risk of extinction — and many within decades. In the Kawarthas, this will mean saying goodbye to species such as Golden-winged Warbler, Least Bittern, Eastern Wolf and Spotted Turtle. The burgeoning growth of humanity is putting the world’s biodiversity at perilous risk with alarming implications for human survival. Climate change is a major driver of the extinction crisis and is on track to become the dominant pressure on many natural systems in coming decades. It is already exacerbating the effects of over-fishing, pesticide use, pollution and both urban and agricultural expansion into the natural world. Sustained public pressure on politicians for enlightened climate action is absolutely necessary. The Ford government’s environmental policies are the antithesis of enlightened action. It’s heart-wrenching to think that the so many of the wild animals in the bedtime stories we read to our children and grandchildren will soon be gone.

When talking about climate change with friends and family, remind them that a majority of Canadians in every province, except for Alberta and Saskatchewan, are in favour of a carbon tax.  A majority also believes that government must lead the climate effort and that individual action won’t be enough. When people say, “Well, what can I do?”, the answer is simple: support strong government action. In addition to a carbon tax, this includes phasing out coal and implementing stronger regulations like more aggressive clean fuel standards. Point out that 70 percent of Canada’s emissions are industry-related. All these initiatives, of course, involve costs to taxpayers – either transparent at the gas pump or hidden when it comes to regulations affecting industry – so paying these costs is “what you can do”.

Arguments for Climate Action – May 3, 2019

When talking about climate change with friends and family, remind them that a majority of Canadians in every province, except for Alberta and Saskatchewan, are in favour of a carbon tax.  A majority also believes that government must lead the climate effort and that individual action won’t be enough. When people say, “Well, what can I do?”, the answer is simple: support strong government action. In addition to a carbon tax, this includes phasing out coal and implementing stronger regulations like more aggressive clean fuel standards. Point out that 70 percent of Canada’s emissions are industry-related. All these initiatives, of course, involve costs to taxpayers – either transparent at the gas pump or hidden when it comes to regulations affecting industry – so paying these costs is “what you can do”.

Arguments for Climate Action – April 12, 2019

Some people argue that Canada is such a small greenhouse gas emitter that it is irrelevant whether we cut our emissions or not. You can counter this by pointing out that: 1. Canada is actually the world’s 10th biggest emitter, ahead of even France and Brazil. 2. On a per capital basis, Canadians are the fourth largest emitters in the world – about the same as Americans and quadruple that of Swedes who live in a similar climate. 3. No one argued during WW II that given our small population, any contribution by Canada to the war effort would be meaningless. Sixteen times more Americans fought in the war than Canadians, but Canada still played a very significant role in the war. The same logic applies to climate change. We have a moral imperative to do our part in this fight, which requires no less than a war-level response.

Climate Crisis Event – February 8, 2019

Well-known Canadian author and journalist, Gwynne Dyer, will present “The Climate Horizon: A Lecture” on Feb. 11 at 7:30 pm at Gzowski College, Trent University. “Climate change will have exponential influences on our military, politics, environment, social systems and economy, but with an unprecedented level of global co-operation, there might be a way through it,” according to Dyer. Please register at Eventbrite.ca for this free event.

Climate Crisis Event – February 1, 2019

Many of us with investments, either personal or through pension plans, are concerned about how to manage the risk in the stock market with looming climate chaos. Do we divest from fossil fuels? When and how?  Financial planner Tim Nash, aka “The Sustainable Economist” and recently featured on CBC’s The National, will explain how to invest safely, profitably, sustainably, and ethically in these precarious times. This free event will be of interest to individual investors, investment dealers as well as representatives of institutions with investments. The talk takes place at Trinity United Church (Simcoe St. entrance) on February 7 at 7 pm.

Climate Crisis Event – January 18, 2019

Many of us with investments, either personal or through pension plans, are concerned about how to manage the risk in the stock market that will come with the looming climate crisis. Do we divest from fossil fuels? When and how? We can’t just sell all our investments and put the cash under our mattress. On February 7, Tim Nash, also known as the Sustainable Economist, will show us how to invest safely, profitably, sustainably, and ethically in a time of climate chaos. Tim was recently featured on The National, on CBC television. A Question and Answer period will follow Tim’s talk. This event will be of interest to individual investors, investment dealers as well as representatives of institutions with investments. The event takes place at Trinity United Church at 7 PM. Please use the Simcoe Street entrance.

Climate Crisis Update – January 11, 2019

On my website, I have been keeping track of the monthly average temperatures in Peterborough since January 2010, using the “Daily Data Report” from Environment Canada. Over the past 108 months, 77 months have been warmer than the 1971 – 2000 Normal for each month. This is a 2.5/1 ratio for warmer versus cooler months. The mean annual temperature in Peterborough from 1971 to 2000 was 5.93 C. The means for the past 10 years are as follows: 2010 (7.38 C), 2011 (7.24 C), 2012 (8.15 C), 2013 (6.4 C), 2014 (5.93 C), 2015 (6.35 C), 2016 (7.08 C), 2017 (6.8 C), and 2018 (7.06 C). This gives a mean annual temperature from 2010-2018 of 6.93 C. In other words, Peterborough is now 1 C warmer than the 1971-2000 year mean. Canada as a whole warmed by 1.7 C from 1948 to 2016, while the mean temperature north of 60 degrees latitude increased by 2.3 C during the same period. Approximately 1 C of warming has occurred for the planet as a whole. In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that planet-wide warming must be limited to 1.5 C to avoid run-away, non-stoppable climate chaos. The bottom line is that Canada has already warmed to more than the maximum of 1.5 C allowed for Earth as a whole to maintain an acceptable climate.

Climate Crisis Update – January 4, 2019

Be sure to check out the current issue of “Greenzine”, the community magazine of Transition Town Peterborough. The entire issue focuses on climate change and asks, “Are we prepared?” As Cheryl Lyon writes, “No other threat to humanity has ever been like the one now. Ever. This time it’s different. It’s growing; it’s everywhere…Groups like Transition Town, the Climate Change Coalition, Sustainable Peterborough and GreenUp are among many in local communities trying to advance the ‘change between our ears’ and in our heart that we must make to understand and adapt to the (coming) stark realities.” Greenzine profiles community efforts in sustainability and environmentally friendly practice as well as focusing on the agricultural and creative economies of Peterborough. The magazine is published quarterly and available throughout Peterborough and various regional locations. You can also read this and other issues of the magazine online at http://www.new.transitiontownpeterborough.ca/ttp/greenzine/

Climate Crisis Update – December 21, 2018

As part of a global movement in response to this fall’s dire climate science reports, Kadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has declared a Climate Emergency. He believes that ecological breakdown poses an existential threat to civilization as we know it. He told the Guardian newspaper, “We are in the midst of a climate emergency which poses a threat to our health, our planet and our children and grandchildren’s future.” Other cities in the U.K. and Australia have made similar declarations, as has Berkeley, California. The city has committed to a just emergency climate mobilization to end greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. Also in the U.S., congresswoman elect, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is calling for a WWII scale climate mobilization. She describes it as a “Green New Deal” to achieve 100% renewable energy in a decade or less and to implement a green job guarantee for every American who wants one. There is no more time for multi-decade solutions. For civilization to have a fighting chance, we require massive, sustained reductions in carbon emissions, and concerted collaborative action on a speed and scale we haven’t seen since the home front mobilization during World War II. Is it not time for Peterborough to join this movement and declare its own Climate Emergency?

Climate Crisis Update – December 14, 2018

Camp Kawartha has undertaken a $3.5 million capital campaign to support its vision of becoming a national leader in environmental programming. The Camp plans to build a new dining hall, kitchen and sleeping quarters, all demonstrating the latest in green architecture. This certified “living building” would be the second of its kind in all of Canada. From living walls and a living roof, to geothermal heating and the use of all-natural materials, the building would show how people and nature can live together and be healthy for both. The building will be “net zero”, which means zero toxins, zero waste and zero carbon and therefore be a showpiece for sustainability. Please consider donating to the campaign at campkawartha.ca.

At the Camp Kawartha’s Annual General Meeting this week, Chris Magwood delivered a wonderful talk on “How Buildings Can (help) Save the World”. Chris is Executive Director of The Endeavour Centre, a not-for-profit sustainable building school based in Peterborough. He pointed out that buildings are responsible for 25% or more of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Surprisingly, from a GHG perspective, a building’s energy efficiency is not the main issue. Rather, we need to look at “embodied emissions”, which are the GHGs associated with producing the building materials. They represent 60% of a building’s carbon footprint, which is much more than the operational emissions from heating and cooling the building. Magwood emphasized that reducing embodied emissions should be the building industry’s main focus in fighting climate change. Buildings made from materials such as straw, hemp, bamboo and fibreboard are actually net storers of carbon, emit zero toxins and can be affordably built right now. Go to endeavourcentre.org for more information.

Climate Crisis Update & Event – December 7, 2018

If you haven’t already done so, check out the For Our Grandchildren (4RG) website at forourgrandchildren.ca. In the Learn More section, you will find 4RG videos, climate change websites, and suggestions on how to write a letter to the editor or a politician. In the Blog, you can read about the impact of climate change on insurance rates and even read climate change news from 1954 published in a Millbrook newspaper. The website also includes upcoming events such as “Your Investments in a Changing Climate”. This talk by Tim Nash will take place February 7 at Trinity United Church. The vision of 4RG is to connect and empower grandparents and prospective grandparents who are concerned about the impending effects of climate change, and enable them to join a movement to counter and prepare for these effects on behalf of all of our children and grandchildren.

Climate Crisis Event – November 23, 2018

Climate Action Event – January 17, 2020

As severe weather becomes increasingly common, insurers will have to recover their costs by raising premiums. Eventually, the cost of insurance could become unaffordable for many of us or not be available at all. On November 27, my brother, Eric Monkman, of Monkman, Gracie & Johnson Insurance will speak on “How climate change will affect your insurance rates”. Eric will also talk about his company’s experience with the 2004 Peterborough Flood and then put this into a 2018 context. He will also touch on the devastating psychological impact of damage to homes from severe weather events. Kate Grierson, an Al Gore-trained climate change communicator, will provide a brief update on the larger picture of climate change in 2018.

The event will take place at Trinity United Church, 360 Reid Street in Peterborough, starting at 7:00 pm. Please use the Simcoe Street entrance on the south side of the church. A question and answer session will follow the talk. This event is hosted by For Our Grandchildren, Peterborough. http://forourgrandchildren.ca/ More information is available by contacting Drew Monkman at dmonkman1@cogeco.ca and on the For Our Grandchildren Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/525500077924290/