Climate change is hitting close to home


by Nick Owens

It hasn’t been hard to notice the increase in sporadic weather patterns in recent years.

Many like to point to the increased number of annual hurricanes in the south Atlantic as an example of the ways that increased greenhouse gasses are affecting the global climate.

However, even if most of Canada is not usually the common example of these types of extremes, there is still plenty of evidence for the negative effects that climate change could cause close to home.

Over the summer, temperatures reached much higher than initial estimates would have guessed, with well over 50 heat-related deaths in Montreal alone.

Toronto’s heat was not quite as bad, but multiple storms caused severe flooding which is unusual as a repeat occurrence over one season.

On the Pacific coast, this was the worst summer on record with, according to the BC wildfire service, over thirteen thousand square kilometres lost.

More alarming has been the shift in temperatures. Globally, the world has warmed  up by about one degree Celsius on average over the past seventy years.

However, records seam to vary greatly from province tor province, with the Northwest Territories reporting an average increase in temperatures of up to four degrees Celsius.

Currently, these numbers can give us a loose, but still meaningful representation of what could happen in the years to come.

For example, in the next 50 years, Toronto is expected to lose several days of sub -15 degree weather.

This would lead to an increase in the number of days where freezing rain can occur and an increase in the amount of damage that such events cause.

Out west, the number of wildfires is expected to increase as well as the amount of flooding caused by severe rain. These events are already causing significantly more damage than they have in the past and are likely going to increase in the future.

Like all problems, there are, however some positives that can be seen due to these changes in temperature.

For example, the harvest season in Canada has actually expanded in recent years, leading to more food production, and therefore, higher exports of Canadian trademarks such as wheat.

However, it is worth noting that this could be a niche positive. The future effects of climate change could vary greatly, but the potential for increased risk of drought could eventually cause this expanded harvesting season to actually shrink in the long term, due to the lack of necessary water as well as other resources.

Furthermore, this year, ash from the BC wildfires was able to reach the Prairie Provinces. The increase in ash in the air could make it more difficult to go outside and, therefore, farm.

All of these events go to show the outcomes caused by the shift in climate in our country and depict a drastic need to prepare for the years to come.