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. 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 Agriculture 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 Ecosystems 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. Fisheries 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
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. Health issues 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.