Climate changes in Canada. What consequences derive from the climate change in Canada and what actions are taken part as a result?
Climate changes in Canada:
What consequences derive from the climate change in Canada and what actions are taken part as a result?
(Essay needs proper foot noting)
Table of Contents
- Impacts due to climate change………………..………….………4
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Arctic Ecosystems
- Polar bears
- Health Issues
- Changes in regions due to climate change………..10
- Pacific coast
- Prairie provinces
- Great Lakes—St. Lawrence basin
- Atlantic coast
- The North
- Canada’s approach on climate change………..……15
It is quite evident that climate change is happening around the world. This issue is called global warming. Because of the effect worldwide, Canada is due to be influenced. The increase of greenhouse gas emissions is apparent, as further urbanizations and burning of fossil fuel occur. With the warming climate, arctic ecosystems are suffering a loss of ice, and many Arctic ponds are dissipating. In fisheries, as the melting ice will flow into the ocean and seas, the water levels are rising significantly, salt waters are likely to enter fresh water bodies, and change the temperature. This benefit some species of fish, yet forces others to change their range of habitats, or even become extinct. Furthermore, higher demands for health care will be needed, for health issues will derive. The effects of pollution will deteriorate from warmer climates, and more allergies from dust will follow. There will be many changes in various regions due to climate change. With all these changes, Canada has taken measures in response to the warmer temperatures. The most important project is putting effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Within the last few decades, the problems derived from climate change have been slowly accumulating. Through many scientific data, it is clearly shown that the earth’s climate has become warmer. However, over the past two decades, the climate temperature has been increasing at an uncontrollable speed. This has become a matter of concern and urgently demands global attention including Canada.
Climate change is measured by several different factors: changes in temperature, wind, snow cover, and precipitation. If there is a long-term shift in them, then it is most likely to be a change in climate.
There are a couple different theories regarding the cause of the climate change. The most commonly known theory states that warmer temperatures are a result of urbanization and burning fossil fuels, leading to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Another lesser-known idea is that natural causes, such as volcanic eruptions that send enormous amounts of volcanic dust pollute the atmosphere. Variations in the amount of energy received from the Sun, and the Earth’s orbit around it, continental drift, and even the water cycle have some effects over the change. However, some scientists insist that the warming of the planet is merely part of a cycle, claiming that every 100,000 years, the Earth’s orbit around the sun changes shape. Every time the Earth shifts in its orbit, the climate on Earth becomes warmer or colder, depending on whether it moved closer to the Sun or not. So no matter how much the human population abuses the environment, they state that the scale is comparatively too small to cause real damage in the climate of Earth.
- Impacts due to climate change
Greenhouse gas emissions
Due to the accelerated rate of urbanization and burning of fossil fuels, the emission of fossil fuels has greatly increased. Greenhouse gases take in more radiation from the sun, which raises the temperature of the atmosphere. Canada, which is not one of the most industrial countries, has been impacted in the increase of temperature. Other parts of the world, therefore, have seen greater impact in terms of temperature increase. The majority of the Canadian population is quite indifferent to the climate change that is rapidly rising, because in most cases, it does not affect them. One or two degrees may seem diminutive; however, an increase of one degree greatly impacts the environment and animals. Between 1948 and 2007, trends show that there was an annual increase of in Canada.
Between 1990 and 2007, great inclination towards motor vehicles and increased usage of coal electricity generation resulted in a great rise in emissions and large increased in oil and gas production. During 2006-2007, the increase of emission was mainly caused by more growth in transportation, extracting of oil and gas and generating fossil fuel electricity.
In the winter of 2010 and 2011, temperatures across Canada showed a trend of the warming atmosphere. Out of the eleven climate regions of Canada, four regions recorded their ten warmest winters. The Arctic Mountains and the Fiords regions ranked the second warmest winters of the region, with above their normal temperature. The Arctic Tundra region also ranked their second warmest, with above their normal temperature. Atlantic Canada ranked their fourth warmest winter, which was above normal. Ranking sixth, the Northeastern Forest region was above their normal temperatures
This is a preview of the whole essay
Due to the climate change, there will be warmer temperatures, increased frequency of extreme weather, and an enhanced atmospheric carbon dioxide. Milder winter conditions would significantly impact crop productivity and growth because the longer growing seasons are available. For example, corn and wheat yielded in Alberta would increase by 21%. With decreased moisture stress, maturation rates are accelerated. However, issues derive from it as well. There will be increased insect infestations, crop damage from extreme heat, more soil erosion, increased moisture stress and droughts, and decreased herbicide and pesticide efficiency. Soil erosion harms the productivity and sustainability of crops, but it also negatively affects air and water quality. Furthermore, the elevated concentration of carbon dioxide is likely to increase the growth of weeds. The geographic distribution of plant diseases may be altered, and pests may migrate northward, because warmer climate would result in a lower frost line.
Arctic ponds are small bodies of water, usually less than 2 meters deep, that are frozen to the bottom, whereas lakes, are much deeper, remains as liquid. These arctic ponds are usually completely frozen for at least 10 months of the year. On average, it is less than, but the maximum temperature recorded has been during the span of two short summer months. The increased temperatures leading to a longer growing season allows the ponds to be free of ice from late June to early July. By August, the ponds would refreeze. However, a small rise in temperature allows this growing season to extend significantly, increasing the primary production from the ponds. This accelerates the decomposition processes and nutrient cycling is favored. However, while the ponds are unfrozen, the warming climate hastens the evaporation and since the ponds are small in size, some ponds desiccate, leaving the Arctic very dry.
Similar to the Arctic ponds, the rise in climate may cause tree-line lakes to greatly decrease their size, or even disappear completely, because they are situated in low precipitation areas and have increased evaporation rates. However, the gradual disappearances of lakes are causing a disorder to the food-web for many wild animals, and they have to adapt to a new environment, or die. However, with the freezing season shortened, transportation by ships and cargo becomes more beneficial.
It is likely that the salt waters will enter fresh water bodies. This geographical displacement of the ecosystems will also be changed internally as well. Some fish will be able to adapt to the new environment and survive, but others will not. Sea-water fish that can survive the freshwater bodies will act as predators to those already living there. The initial fish population living in the fresh body waters may decrease as a result of becoming preys.
Through a study done by Cindy Chu, Nicholas Mandrak and Charles Minns (2005), it was predicted that distribution of five common species (brook trout, walleye, smallmouth bass, pugnose shiner and squanga whitefish) that live in cold, cool and warm fresh water environments in Canada will all react differently with climate change. A 49% decrease of brooks was calculated by the year 2050 by the climate model. The brooks may migrate either northeasterly, away from central Canada towards the Quebec-Labrador region and westerly towards British Columbia. On the other hand, it is likely that walleye would expand throughout their present range, but by 2050, they may extend their range by 54% to Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The smallmouth bass will probably expand throughout southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan by 2020, but by 2050, they would have increased their range all the way up to the northwestern parts of Ontario and eastern Manitoba, and even into the Maritimes. For the pugnose shiner, they will increase their range towards southern Quebec and central Ontario. Then around 2050, their ranges will be extended downwards to the southern border of Canada into southern Quebec and the Maritimes. However, for the squanga whitefish, it is likely that they will lose 40% of their current range and by 2050, be reduced an additional 23%. This will become an endangered species that will only be found up in the northern areas of Quebec and Labrador, and parts of Nunavut.
According to the study done by Flato & Boer (2001), climate warming is expected to be greater in the northern areas compared to the southern areas of Canada. Grand River, a conservation authority in Ontario, did a comparison of fish surveys from 1983 and 1996. It concluded that numerous warm water species are now living in upper areas. Furthermore, the existence of coldwater species has declined. Therefore, the impact of climate change will be more evident and intermediate in the Arctic. For example, coho salmons have been found outside their range in the Northwest Territories, and most likely, it is the result of climate warming.
Polar bears live on the frozen sea, and hunt seals for their main diet. In the northern areas of the Arctic, polar bears can stay on the ice all year long and hunt for their prey. However, the rivers around the Hudson Bay area is not frozen year-round, because the ice from the sea is broken up in the summer and half of it is melted by late June or mid-July. The polar bears stay on the ice as long as possible to hunt for food, but when they can’t, they live off the fat reserves that have built up during their hunting seasons when the ice was present. Therefore, the longer the bears stay on the ice, the fatter they can be, giving them more energy and a better chance of survival. However, if the ice starts to melt earlier, then the polar bears must adapt to surviving the summer months with less fat. The breakup of the ice varies every year, but by the late 1990s the breaking of the ice started 2 weeks prior to the usual season, in comparison to the late 1970. As the ice is melting at a faster rate, the polar bears’ health is at risk, as they look much thinner than before. In addition, their birthrates are decreasing. This problem has arisen within the last three decades, providing insufficient data to be sure of the decreasing rate, but scientists are certain that at this rate of melting ice, the birthrate and the population of polar bears are due to decline as well.
There are both benefits and negative parts regarding human health due to climate change. Milder winters will reduce seasonal winter-time deaths or influenza. However, the rate of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses is likely to increase, because of the inclined exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollutants and allergens. Extreme weather, such as floods, droughts and storms bring higher risks of infectious diseases and threats to food supplies. For example, West Nile virus and Lyme disease are most likely spreading in Canada because of global warming.
Furthermore, the warmer temperatures will allow mosquitoes to prosper, resulting in unsanitary marsh areas. With higher temperatures, air pollution is deteriorated and usually, leads to urban smog. Many Canadians get allergies from all the dust and pollutants. The Canadian government estimates that around 16,000 premature deaths per year are related to air pollution.
From the air quality, people are more vulnerable to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Furthermore, chemical and biological contaminants cause intestinal disorders. Through the damage of ultraviolet rays on skin, people are more prone to skin cancer, cataracts, and a disturbed immune function. Through the increasing rate of care needed, demands and pressure on health care services will accumulate.
- Changes in regions due to climate change
Warming temperatures are due to melt more ice, and a rise in sea level occurs. Especially around low-lying coastal lands, such as the Fraser River delta, is likely to be threatened by flooding and erosion. With precipitation increased, landslides are more likely to happen. Warmer river temperatures are due to go up too, leading to increased mortality rates in fish that go up the rivers to spawn, such as the Pacific salmon. On the other hand, warmer ocean temperatures provide favorable conditions for the squid, tuna, and others that migrate from the south. Unfortunately, a warmer climate in the west coast would mean that forests towards the north will become vulnerable to insect pests and diseases that did not cause a problem before because of colder temperatures. Furthermore, forest fires will be created on a more regular basis due to the drier climate.
The south of the prairies in particular will endure periodic drought. However, with higher temperatures that lead to increased evapotranspiration, the devastating droughts are more likely to occur, with deteriorated conditions. Fortunately, agriculture grounds could be moved more northward. The land will still be dry, but with proper irrigations systems, the warmer climate could melt the poor soil of the north into usable land. Similarly, more forests can extend to the northern areas that are humid, but it will take longer to mature than agricultural crops. However, even though forests will grow in the north, they are more likely to be vulnerable to pests, diseases, and fire, as the soil moisture of the north is low.
Great Lakes—St. Lawrence basin
Over 42.5 million people live in the area of the Great Lakes. Over half of the population’s (8 million Canadians) source of drinking water is the lake. Researchers predict that by 2055, the average temperature of the Great Lakes will go up by about. This likely increase in temperature is mainly due to the North American manufacturing. This is not good news as the warmer temperature would increase the rate of evaporation. In the worst case, the St. Lawrence River may be reduced by 20%, with the water levels of the Great Lakes falling by an average between 0.5 and 1 meter.
If the water level of the Great Lakes decreases, food processing, transportation and electric power industries will suffer economically. In the winters, because of the climate change, it will be warmer and require less electricity to heat homes in the winters. This may act as the counter-balance for the amount of hydroelectric power generated, because lower water levels will decrease the flow of hydroelectricity. In addition, with the lower water levels, the cargo carried by ships would have to be reduced. But the shorter ice season by 5-12 weeks could also be an alternate plan to allow more shipping trips during the year.
Another thing to note is the snowfall of the region. The amount of snowfall will decrease from 80% to 20%. This will harm the ski industry, especially for southern Quebec and southern Ontario. Furthermore, higher water temperatures will decrease the oxygen levels dissolved in the water and the growth of algae and bacteria will be favored. Since there will be less runoffs, the circulation of bays, such as flushing and dilution of organic matter and chemicals, won’t be available. Also, wetlands will disappear with the water levels. Then many wildlife animals would lose their valuable habitats and the wild life population is likely to decrease. To worsen the matter, the growing urbanization and agricultural advances would continue to contaminate the remaining runoffs with toxic chemicals and fertilizers. With the demand for water increasing as the population grows, yet the lakes decreasing in size, external pressures for water supply will expand.
Unfortunately, agriculture, the largest industry in this region will not benefit. The growing season will be no doubt longer; however, the moisture in the soil will be reduced, and on the long run, the crop yield will have decreased. Furthermore, higher temperatures and drier soil will harm the health of forests and marshes that were home to many species.
In low-lying areas, such as Charlottetown, the residential, transportation, and industrial facilities may be threatened due to the rising sea levels. Newfoundland, another low-lying region, is gradually subsiding. Since the sea level is increasing, floods are increasingly threatening. Furthermore, inner cities, such as Saint John, may flood on a more regular basis during storms. In a continuance of floods, the salt water may get into the groundwater aquifers. Not only will the main source of regional water supplies get damaged, but many freshwater fish populations will die. Similarly, some saltwater fish populations will die from the warmer temperatures, but then again, other fish species will benefit from it.
In the north, the rise in sea level causes floods in low-lying areas, and the Mackenzie River delta is no exception. Furthermore, the shorelines will be eroded, which will change the ecosystems near the shore, losing many wild animals that occupied the area. However, the inner lands will benefit from the elongated summers and milder winters, providing roads that are not icy. With less icy roads, transportation to other areas will be easier. Again, areas where the soil is moist enough, agriculture can be extended northward. However, the forests would become more vulnerable to fires, due to the drier soil. In the absence of a longer winter, however, there would be an increase of precipitation from the warmer temperature. Thus, there would be a greater accumulation of snow in the fall and the winter, because all the rain would freeze to snow. Fortunately, the snow can be used as fresh water supply and may be industrialized to be utilized for hydroelectric power.
Wetlands are areas where the land can hold water long enough that wetland plants and soils can develop. These include fresh and salt water marshes, wooded swamps, bogs and seasonally flooded forests. Some benefits of wetlands are that they can absorb large waves or floods, while filtering toxic substances. The area provides food for many wild animals, such as fish, shellfish, and shorebirds. Crops, such as wild rice, cranberries, wood, and charcoal, can also be grown in this area. Since wetlands are frontier-type ecosystems, they are vulnerable to climate change and extreme events. For example, coastal areas can be changed by erosion, flooding, and the invasion of salt water.
In hotter and drier summers of arid and semi-arid areas, irrigation water will decrease in supply, because it will be used up at a faster rate. Then, the lower level of water will contain concentrations of pollutants—pesticides, salts, chemicals—that will settle down in the wetlands. Furthermore, the changes in temperatures—even small ones—cause significant impacts in the ecosystem. For example, the purple loosestrife population may extend northward because of the warmer climates. Also, high temperatures and low concentrations of oxygen will house botulism bacterium.
Usually, with the change of temperatures, the amount of precipitation received differs, too. The plants living in the area must be accustomed to the rain cycle of the region, but if it is altered, it may harm the plants and cause declination of the population. Even though the wetlands were thought to be useless in the past, and were instead drained out to be used as farming grounds, the value of the wetlands are now recognized. However, human activity by pollution is changing the climate and is threatening their presence. Many are disappearing.
In the northern parts of Canada, a fair amount is covered in permafrost—region of permanently frozen ground. With warmer climates and ice melting at a quick speed, it causes a problem because there are large amounts of methane stored in the frozen soil. However, by the melting of the ice, they will now be exposed, which may add to the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- Canada’s approach on climate change
Expenditures due to climate adaption in Canada had added up to the sum of $11,653,454,000 in 1995. However, this amount of money has been gradually increasing. John Baird, Canada’s Environment Minister, announced in 2007 to invest $85.9 million for research over four years. This money will go towards aiding Canadians to adapt to climate change. $15 million will be used for research that improves climate change scenarios. To assist Northerners will be given $14 million to assess key vulnerabilities and opportunities for adaptation. The Inuit will be given $7 million for health adaptations. $14.9 million will be used to develop infectious disease alerts and response system that protects the health of Canadians being affected from the climate change. $35 million will be spent for adaptation, with special attention towards the risk management tools. A portion of the money will also support the development and assistance of regional programs.
The warming climate change is becoming more of an issue and the government is lenient up to 2% of greenhouse gas emissions polluted by Canada in relation to the whole planet. The goal by 2020 is that a cleaner electricity generation system will reduce the emissions by 17% from that of 2005. $400 million was announced to be invested for climate financing for 2010 alone. In particular, special attention is given to transportation and electricity, because the fossil fuels are a key factor that increases the temperature.
By 2015, new regulations are trying to diminish the emissions from coal-fired electricity generating systems. Instead, the government is increasing investment on other more energy-efficient electricity generators. Furthermore, in partnership with the United States, new models for vehicles will be lighter and more eco-friendly. Aside from the aligned vehicle regulations, two countries have established a ‘Clean Energy Dialogue,’ advancing in clean energy research and development, and building a more efficient electricity system and renewable energy. The government is also approaching the issue by announcing new regulations to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollutant emissions from aviation, marine, and rail transportations.
The changes in global climate have become a significant concern, and even though Canada is not affected as severely as other parts of the world, it is impacted in several ways. Through the inclination of greenhouse gas emissions, global warming has affected the Arctic ecosystems, fisheries, and polar bears. With the coming of the warmer temperatures, it gives ideal conditions for pine beetles to thrive, causing problems for the forests of British Columbia. Many health issues, such as illnesses caused by pollution, will intensify. Even though both positive and negatives factors have occurred to different regions of Canada, more negative factors are apparent on the whole. Canada has approached these issues as a matter of high priority. The government has taken many steps, making new regulations to reduce pollution, which would lead to a more gradual, and positive shift in climate.
Trends within Earth, including Northern Hemisphere (Canada) show that it is evident that the temperatures have started to increase around the 1900’s, where industrialization began to take place regularly.
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, 1010 to 2004
The rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is mainly due to fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and industrial processes. The concentration of had been fairly constant, until around the 1900’s, when industrialization had begun to soar.
Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, 1990 to 2005 and Kyoto Target
The amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere has greatly gone up.
The average temperature is slowly increasing up along the years. Red dashed linear trend line indicates winter temperatures have warmed over the last 64 years by 2.8 2.8°C. Out of the twenty years listed, 11 were the warmest winters. [Environment Canada]
- Climate Regions of Canada
British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range. Mountain Pine Beetle. 2007. 20 July 2011 <http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/mountain_pine_ beetle#info >.
Chiotti, Quentin. AN ASSESSMENT OF THE REGIONAL IMPACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998.
—. "AN ASSESSMENT OF THE REGIONAL IMPACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES FROM CLIMATE CHANGE IN CANADA." Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 1998.
Cindy Chu, Nicholas E. Mandrak, Charles K. Minns. "Potential impacts of climate change on the distributions of several common and rare freshwater fishes in Canada." 2005. Biodiversity Research. 20 July 2011 <http://cbtadaptation.squarespace.com/storage/ClimateChangeImpacts-FreshwaterFish-Canada.pdf>.
Environment Canada. "Canada's Government Taking Action on Adaptation and Climate Change Issues." 10 12 2007. Environment Canada. 18 July 2011 <http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=793255F0-1&news=91E1F38E-C53C-404B-9512-22EA69C08787>.
—. Climate Trends and Variations Bulletin. 16 May 2011. 2 July 2011 <http://www.ec.gc.ca/adsc-cmda/default.asp?lang=En&n=8C03D32A-1>.
—. Water and Climate Change. 3 August 2010. 2 July 2011 <http://www.ec.gc.ca/eau-water/default.asp?lang=en&n=3E75BC40-1#prarie>.
Everett, Dr. John T. "Wildlife and Oceans in a Changing Climate." 17 April 2007. Climate Change Facts. 20 July 2011 <http://www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeDocuments/StatementJohnEverett.htm>.
Healh Canada. Understanding the Health Effects of Climate Change. 19 July 2011 <http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/climat/impact/index-eng.php#how>.
Kazan, Casey. Does the Earth Have a 100,000-Year Climate-Change Cycle? 7 April 2010. 11 6 2011 <http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2010/04/does-the-earth-have-100000year-climate-change-cycle-.html>.
Kent, Peter. "Climate Change Milestons Speech at Economic CLub." Toronto, 28 January 2011.
The Daily. Human activity and the environment: Climate change in Canada. 22 April 2008. 10 June 2010 <http://ezproxy.student.twu.ca:3026/daily-quotidien/080422/dq080422a-eng.htm>.
Wayne R. Rouse, Marianne S. V. Douglas, Roert E. Hecky, ANne E. Hershey, Geroge W. Kling, Lance Lesack, Philip Marsh, Michael McDonald, Barbara J. Nicholson, Nigel T. ROulet, John P. Smol. EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE FRESHWATERS OF ARCTIC AND SUBARCTIC NORTH AMERICA. Prod. Ltd John Wiley & Sons. 1997.