Why climate change is happening
75% of Canadians are worried about climate change, and for good reason.
We release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), cutting down trees and destroying wetlands. These activities release an excess of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The gasses trap energy from the sun and the earth’s overall temperature rises. Our atmosphere today contains 42 per cent more carbon dioxide than it did before the Industrial Revolution.
The speed of change is accelerating.
A hotter atmosphere creates conditions that cause extreme weather events. These are getting worse. For instance, hurricanes are becoming so fierce that scientists are considering introducing a new threat level – Category 6.
History of global surface temperature since 1880
From the Global Temperature page of NASA’s project Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.
Chart 1 – Large Catastrophic Weather Events in Canada
Health & Safety
Temperature-related morbidity and mortality
- Illness related to extreme cold and heat events
- Respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses
- Increased occupational health risks
- Increased exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollutants and allergens
- Respiratory diseases
- Heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases
Health effects of exposure to ultraviolet rays
- Skin damage and skin cancer
- Disturbed immune function
Weather-related natural hazards
- Damaged public health infrastructure
- Injuries and illnesses
- Social and mental stress
- Increased occupational health hazards
- Population displacement
Water-and food-borne contamination
- Intestinal disorders and illnesses caused by chemical and biological contaminants
Vector-borne and zoonotic diseases
- Changed patterns of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and other pathogens carried by mosquitoes, ticks, and animals.
What ordinary people can do
Here’s a short list of what ordinary people can do to support meaningful action on climate change:
Vote for politicians who pledge to take action that reduces the burning of fossil fuels from cars, buildings, industry and more. Support all levels of smart government action that would significantly reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
Spend your dollars with the businesses that are taking real action to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
Take individual actions that protect the planet and its finite resources.
- Reduce waste
- Support action that conserves, replenishes and nourishes the natural world.
More about climate change from the David Suzuki Foundation – why it’s happening and what to expect in the future
From the Canadian Government – Climate Change and Health
People representing just about every aspect of Canadian society are responding to the climate change emergency.
Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada (CAN-Rac Canada) is a coalition of more than 100 organizations across the country.
Canadian Government – Working Group Report on Adaptation and Climate Resilience (PDF)
Taking Personal Action
From the David Suzuki Organization – Top 10 things that ordinary people can do about climate change
Extreme Weather Events
Hurricanes – From the Guardian newspaper – Will we soon see category 6 hurricanes?