Over the course of its 154 years of statehood, Canada has been a model of innovation and success. Be it the discovery of Insulin, universal health care, diversity, or giving the world Seth Rogen, we Canadians are the epitome of excellence. Now, the world looks onto us with regards to the existential threat we as humans face: the climate.
The fight for a cleaner, greener and a sustainable world is indeed a daunting task, but with the human instinct of survival, we can do the unthinkable. We do not live in this, as Maya Angelou said, all is well world. We cannot, we must not try to evade the problem we are facing. To solve a problem, even in general, it requires three aspects: acknowledging the problem, what is causing it, and then the solutions for it.
We are in a time, where we are living the impacts of climate change. The current heat wave, engulfing the west coast and the prairies, has had devastating impacts, especially in British Columbia. The BC heat dome led to extreme summer conditions, with some areas such as Lytton experiencing up to 49.6 C. This led to 579 deaths across the province over a one-week period, in which the current heat wave was suspected. The heatwave led to fully booked hotels across the province, as residents did not have air conditioning in their houses and were not fully prepared for what was about to hit them. Even the local Walmart’s in Saskatoon had run out of fans over the week of the heat dome. These extreme conditions, due to climate change, are impacting real communities and environments. For us in Saskatchewan, this creates a stronger urge to solve this climate issue as quickly as possible.
To make it absolutely clear to some, natural causes such as solar radiation and volcanic activity have been estimated to contribute ± 0.1 C to the total warming since 1890. The main driver of climate change is the greenhouse effect: an effect that traps the sun's heat and stops it from leaking into space. Gases such as CO2, Methane and Nitrous Oxide even though do occur naturally, but human activity plays the larger role in it. In this article, we will mainly discuss CO2 emissions, as they are the largest contributor to global warming. In Canada, our CO2 emissions increased by 21.4% since 1990. Naturally, CO2 is released by processes such as respiration and volcanic eruption. Human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels contribute greatly to increased atmospheric CO2 concentration. The process of burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2. Deforestation is also a major component in this fight for climate change. As we all learned in grade 3, trees are natures built in system that help regulate air quality by absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen during photosynthesis. When they are cut down, that not only negates the beneficial effect they have, but in turn their stored CO2 is released into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect.
Now, the solutions. As Imran Khan said, ideas without funding are mere hallucinations. We need investment from the federal government as well as the private sector in the renewable energy field. Our cities have been built more for the cars than the people living in them. We need to look at growing urban forests; they not only help in reducing CO2 emissions but also help in cooling of cities along with providing shade. We can also use natures help in replacing streetlights with bioluminescence lights. One, they are an inexhaustible resource meaning that the bacteria used can be cultivated infinitely, and they only use sugar for energy hence cutting costs from maintaining typical streetlights. Second, they also help reduce light pollution as they emit soft light, as well as reducing mankind’s ecological footprint by protecting wildlife habitat weakened by the traditional streetlights.
Another solution, I believe, is getting the carbon tax in place. To be fair, it does hit the ordinary people unfairly as they cannot afford a new tax on already minimum wages. To offset the costs to the public, the federal government has implemented a rebate strategy, meaning a household in Saskatchewan would be getting a net gain of $393 in their annual income in 2021. The carbon tax also helps in changing the behaviour towards climate change, such that businesses and firms that are not getting any rebates, would have a greater incentive to reduce costs by being eco-friendly. British Columbia has had a carbon tax since 2008 and its economy has been one of the fastest growing in Canada, meaning the carbon tax does not really hurt the economy as stated by some. BC used the revenues by this strategy, in lowering their income tax, cutting health premiums and investing in greener technologies.
Furthermore, building supergrids would also be a game changer. Supergrids are a wide-area transmission network, that helps in trading high volumes of electricity across greater distances. We in Canada can benefit from such supergrids, as provinces with surplus hydroelectricity e.g., British Columbia and Quebec can help others with the lack of it.
We should immediately cease all construction for the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Yes, it has its pros, but the cons and the setback it gives to our fight in climate change far outweigh the positive effect. It gives more incentives for the oil/ gas industry to tap into the oil reserves, whether the federal government tells us otherwise. The pipeline does not just have an adverse effect on our ecosystem, but also ignores native rights. We should also communicate the urgency of the situation to our elected officials. Elected officials have the authority to pass legislations that matters to stop the money grab oil and gas corporations. We should also reject fast fashion. I think I can write a separate article on fast fashion, and that how dangerous it is for our environment, but I will stick to the solution for it in this blog. Going thrifting, is not just a fun outing, but also something that helps to lower CO2 emissions. It does not only reduce emissions from landfill, but also from production and distribution process for it. We should also start a national awareness campaign encouraging to grow trees.
Canada has 7 climatic zones, and we must do everything to protect its flora and fauna. We have a global responsibility; just like how we sent our troops to Afghanistan, we need to help the developing world in their fight for climate change as well. Extreme weather leads to greater global instability, poverty and conflict, thus putting our national security at risk. The already disputed idea of having more refugees in Canada would get stronger with the influx of climate refugees. I do not want to create a doomsday scenario, but we face an existential threat and should be taken as such. Please, for the sake of Hasbullah and more Jonah Hall, Michael Cera collabs take this seriously. Somebody needs to start a petition for Superbad 2 fr.
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