How do I affect climate change?
The international scientific community agrees that there has been a significant change in global climate in recent years. Human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels for transportation and industrial processes – emit greenhouse gases (GHGs) that trap heat in the atmosphere. As well, we have cleared more and more land for human use, resulting in the loss of forests and wetlands that absorb and store greenhouse gases. As a result, we have enhanced the natural greenhouse effect to the point that it has the potential to warm the planet at a rate that has never been experienced in human history.
How does climate change affect me?
Scientific projections indicate that climate change could affect the health and well-being of Canadians in a number of ways. A few of these predicted results include: increased smog and heat waves resulting in more temperature-related illness and death; the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria‚ dengue and yellow fever into Canada as insects carrying these diseases migrate northward with the warming climate; and the quality and the quantity of drinking water could decline as water sources in some areas become threatened by drought.
How does climate change affect the environment?
Canada’s climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, particularly in the Arctic, where permafrost is thawing and the ocean’s ice cover is shrinking. Even greater changes to the environment are predicted, including increases in surface temperatures, more severe weather events, a rise in sea level and a decrease in sea ice. These changes could alter natural habitats and force wildlife to either adapt or be replaced by more adaptable species. Those at greatest risk of extinction are species that require different habitats at different stages of their lives, like amphibians, or that inhabit areas that are physically restricted, such as islands, isolated lakes and mountain tops.
Although Arctic ecosystems are expected to be the hardest hit, other regions of Canada will also be affected. Aquatic ecosystems on both coasts and in rivers, lakes and streams are expected to be affected by changes in river and stream runoff – a result of less snow pack, an earlier ice break-up and a change in flow. Temperature increases could also result in the wider spread of invasive forest pests that are already having a dire impact on some of Canada’s tree populations.
Although there is no way to predict exactly how certain ecosystem will react to climate change, Canadian and global biodiversity could be irreversibly impacted unless steps are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change.
How can I make a difference?
Since the burning of fossil fuels is a primary source of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, individuals can take action to reduce climate change by cutting down on fuel consumption at home, at work and on the road. If you drive a car, it probably accounts for half your annual greenhouse gas emissions. Consider alternative forms of transportation, and if you must drive, learn to drive smarter and keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. If you are shopping for a new fuel efficient vehicle, check the EnerGuide label for its estimated fuel consumption and annual fuel cost.
Energy consumption also contributes to climate change, so anything you can do to reduce your home energy use will help reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
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