Global Climate Change Facts: COP21 Climate Change Conference Paris 2015

 

Global Climate Change Facts

 

polar-bear-human-progress

 

COP21 Climate Change Conference Paris 2015

 

Canada Is Back!”

Now we have hope again.

After the years of Canada’s Greenest Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, when we actually shined on the international stage, we’ve just endured our Dark Decade, when our Sacred Land was completely abandoned to local and international forces of materialistic greed and destruction. [1]

And the destruction has been immense.

Our greatest living animal — the magnificent Polar Bear — struggles in a decreasing habitat that is literally melting under it.

Of course, Canada hasn’t been the only nation to under-participate in saving our living Earth.  We may be the only country to have dropped out of the promised Kyoto Accord, but others have under-performed also.

In fact, we’re all suffering from the massive neglect industrialized nations have given the living world for centuries.  For three hundred years, the ungodly idea of Progress has blundered around the planet, pouring out massive clouds of coal smoke and stupid indifference.

But things CAN change…

Newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised that he is “committed to attending the Paris climate conference, and within 90 days, holding a First Ministers meeting to work together on a framework for combating climate change. Central to this would be the creation of national emissions reduction targets.”

After the last few years of record-breaking heat, drought, storms, flooding and forest fires (leading, among other things, to a decrease in food production and rising food prices!) most of the provincial Premiers are asking for new federal environmental laws.

Some folks (including a personal hero of mine, Farley Mowat) have said that it’s all too late.  We’ve messed up.  Eco Collapse.  And some times I feel this way…  [2]

Certainly, if we’re to turn our massive destruction of our environment around, the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris in December is OUR LAST CHANCE!  COP21 must succeed!  Promises must be made there.  And those promises must be kept over the next few years.

There will be fanatical attempts to undermine and even scuttle the COP21 in Paris.  But we must prevail!

Why?  Here, from right-wing environmental entrepreneur Jean Cannon, is a Guest Blog Post backgrounding this critical problem:

HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT YOU & ME?

What’s all this talk about Climate Change?

I guess we all want to know how much of it’s true and how relevant is it to my business?

In this post, I’ll discuss what has happened, is happening and some of the predictions, so you can assess the importance for yourself. It also discusses the causes of this and includes some discussion of available options.

Global warming is a fact. It’s likely to speed up, with near record growth in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.

The recent UK Stern Report warned that if we ignore this we are likely to have an economic impact equivalent to the combined First and Second World Wars plus the Great Depression, and that is without considering millions of people displaced around the world — those increasing numbers of refugees.

To put climate change into perspective, during the last ice age global temperatures were only 5 °C lower than today and much of Canada, Europe and northern Russia was covered in massive ice sheets several kilometers thick.

Weather extremes and greater fluctuations in rainfall and temperatures caused by climate change are liable to change productive landscapes and exacerbate food, water and energy scarcities in a relatively short time span! Particularly worrying is sea-level rise because of the density of coastal populations and the potential for the large-scale displacement of people in Asia.

Climate change will cause health security consequences, since some infectious diseases will become more widespread as the planet heats up.

Rising global temperatures will see more fires, droughts and flooding over the next 200 years, according to climate scientists from the UK’s University of Bristol.

It is predicted that climate change will contribute to destabilizing, unregulated population movements in Asia and the Pacific. While most of population movement is likely to be internal, there will be flow on effects requiring cooperative regional solutions.

Increasingly extreme weather patterns will result in greater death and destruction from natural disasters, and add to the burden on poorer countries and even stretch the coping ability of more developed nations.

For a handful of small, low-lying Pacific nations, climate change is the ultimate security threat, since rising sea-levels will eventually make their countries uninhabitable.

Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases now, researchers predict Eurasia, eastern China, Canada, Central America and Amazonia are at risk of forest loss. Global warming of less than 2 °C would create a 30% probability of deforestation, while more than 3 °C would double the likelihood of loss. (UK research)

Now — About the Causes

There are three main gases that are responsible for causing the Greenhouse Effect. The data for this has been taken from ice cores giving thousands of years of information.

  • Carbon Dioxide CO2
  • Nitrous oxides – often called NOX
  • Methane

All three are increasing exponentially at present. We are now sitting a long way outside the concentrations that have ever occurred in the past and we don’t know what will happen.

Who is to blame for this?

My little bit can’t make all that difference. Twenty-seven per cent of carbon emissions come from homes which means the rest comes from business in some form or other and a large percentage of business involves small to medium enterprises and farms, just like most of us.

Air traffic is currently blamed for about 3.5% of the human activities that cause climate change and is the fastest growing source of emissions. Its share of total CO2 impact is expected to grow to 5% by the year 2050.

A recent report stated that agriculture is responsible for 40% of greenhouse gasses:

  • 70% of total methane
  • 80% of NOX – this comes from biochemical processes in soils. There are large losses of N from fertilizers – between 15 and 50% of N fertilizer goes missing. If you use N fertilizer, you need to improve the efficiency of use.

There are 1.4 billion cows worldwide, many in huge tracks of deforested land, each producing 500 litres of methane a day and accounting for 14% of all emission of the gas.

There is now five times the historic concentration of fertilizers in the sea off the coast of Queensland, Australia. This causes an increased growth of algae and algae feed Crown of Thorns starfish larvae. The combination of higher temperatures and Crown of Thorns Starfish is seriously threatening the Great Barrier Reef.

Impacts on water

Global warming is expected to intensify the water cycle, with increased risk of floods and droughts. One of the effects of global warming is likely to be changes in the seasonality of river flows in regions where winter precipitation falls as snow. Additionally, rising sea levels will damage the quality of fresh water available from coastal aquifers and wetlands.

Less freshwater is likely to be available in West Africa, Central America, southern Europe, the eastern US and southern Australia. Other regions, particularly tropical Africa and northwest South America, will be at significant risk of excessive runoff as trees are lost, increasing the chances of severe flooding.

We need to preserve our water quality. There are more of us and fresh water is deceasing. Anything discharged into drains ends up in lakes, dams, rivers or the sea. Do any rivers or lakes near your business have algal problems? A wetland can remove up to 90% of sediments, nutrients and bacteria from stormwater.

When we go boating we really enjoy being in the environment but have we thought about the impact we may be having on water quality. Two-stroke engines produced up to 10 times more water pollution than four-stroke. They acidify waterways and release heavy metals from sediments resulting in underwater pollution up to 1000 per cent worse with two-stroke engines.

Food and Our Environment

Food grown on modern mega-agricultural “farms” is responsible for 37% of our greenhouse emissions and transport is 10% concluded a recent environmental study.

The same study suggested that if we reduce our red meat consumption by 150 gm per week it’s equivalent to leaving your car off the road. I had previously heard that transport was 14% but it is certainly a lot less than food and agriculture.

There’s a lot of personal choice here. I seldom eat red meat because I don’t like the taste and I prefer fish and free range poultry.  But that is a personal choice — although both those protein sources are less greenhouse gas emitting.

I’m not advocating vegetarianism because it certainly doesn’t suit my metabolism.  And if we look at our teeth we have evolved to be omnivores or mixed eaters. We don’t have big canines like cats and dogs, but equally we don’t have herbivorous molars like cows and horses. Our nearest relatives certainly eat birds and small mammals when they can as well as leaves, fruit and seeds.

And none of this even begins to address the affects of factory farming on the welfare of the animals. [3]

As food production decreases globally due to climate change, growing and producing food ourselves will become a necessity.  Organic gardening is a growing trend.  It’s all about choices.

Climate Change Effects: What can we do about all of this?

We can think about our buildings and try to reduce energy use there.  84% of property owners, architects and consultants are involved in green development to some degree, but there are still limited choices of green building products, according to the first major survey of attitudes to sustainability.

While governments are seen as having the greatest influence on society’s reaction to climate change, 65% of surveyed people expected the private sector to take the lead in coming years.

Wind power could supply one third of the world’s electricity by 2050 and save 113 billion tones of CO2 emissions, according to a report by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace.

We can think about our waste

When our waste breaks down in land fills, it generates large amounts of methane gas. Some of the newer landfill sites have been carefully designed to prevent leaching into the water table and to capture the methane gas generated.

In Victoria in 2004-5, 5.4 million tonnes of waste was recycled. This is a seven percent increase from the previous year it showed recycling saved over 78 million gigajoules of energy, 52 GL of water and 4 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses. 55% of the total solid waste stream was recovered.

Germany has become the 18th country to join the international “Methane To Markets Partnership”, an initiative to turn the toxic greenhouse gas in the coal mining, landfill, agricultural, and oil and gas sectors into a clean energy source.

India, which still suffers from massive coal emissions and smog, wants industry to use waste-to-energy technologies to both generate electricity and help address waste disposal challenges in various core industries including pulp and paper industry, breweries, textile mills, rice mills and solvent extraction units.

The paper industry is eminently suited for power co-generation as 75-85% of energy is to heat the process and 15-25% as electrical power. “The large quantity of wastewater generated in pulp and paper industry can be used for generating bio-gas which can be used to produce thermal energy electricity.”

And we can consider using other fuels as well as how far we transport things and whether the transport is efficient.

The biggest initiatives here are alternative fuels such as harnessing solar and wind energy and also using fuels made from plants and other biological sources instead of fossil fuels. This is logical because fossil; fuels are just fossilised forests from the past.

Victoria’s wind farms are saving more than 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to an independent study. A typical 2 MW wind turbine reduces greenhouse emissions by about 6,000 tonnes per year, with 1,000 MW of installed wind able to displace around 600 GWh of brown coal generation per annum.

A meat works in Victoria, is investigating the use of animal fat from its abattoir operations for making biodiesel. The potential 10 ML of biodiesel a year would fuel the company’s own transport fleet, with the excess sold on the open market. In Australian biodiesel is being made from canola but sugar would be another good source.

In New Zealand biofuel is being made from algae grown in sewage ponds. This is important because a major obstacle to biodiesel is the fact that the same land used to grow biodiesel crops is also needed to grow food.

Trading carbon is a sensible strategy so that people who do use large amounts of carbon based energy can pay other people who are growing trees.

One of my clients has a forestry project to enable their business to be carbon neutral. At Enviro Action we donate a portion of all our income to Trees for Life to support them growing seedling native trees for farmers and other land owners to plan each year.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger explained that his state, the world’s 12th largest carbon emitter, could become a global leader in greenhouse emissions reduction following agreement on a Cap and Trade System.

SO HOW DOES ALL OF THIS AFFECT YOU AND ME?  WHAT CAN WE DO?

Myself, I feel deep concern about the future my grandchildren and their friends face. I think we all need to take the many small steps that may seem to “not make much difference” to try to reduce the overall load on the system.

 

Grow Green Organic Food
On a personal level, we’ve tried our best to be Green.  Organic gardening is a hot new alternative.  Growing Your Own Organic Food has been a successful family project for many people over the past few years.  And you can always sell the excess fresh food — which is in high demand — for profit!

 

I use low energy fluorescent bulbs in table lamps instead of the ceiling full of halogen lights in both my home and my office. I chose to live in a well insulated north facing place so that I get winter sun coming under my verandah but no summer sun and I seldom use the air conditioner.

I used heating for only four hours last winter and that was when the ground outside was white with frost. In summer, 40 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) outside translated to 29 ºC (84 °F) inside and I decided I was comfortable as it was under 30 ºC. I drive a duel fuelled car and walk or ride my bike when this is possible.

These are little steps to reduce our foot print and if we all do this in both our businesses and our homes we do have a cumulative effect. We can choose “green power” in most places. In our business we can think carefully about all the impacts we have just discussed and work out how to save green house gas use and remember this also saves us money.

Obviously we also need to take big steps as well and new technologies must also be developed as existing technologies are not adequate to “solve” the problem, but we can reduce the load and the rate of global warming by all taking our small steps and we need to start now.

Helping the environment can be a real win-win.

“It IS easy being Green!”

ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER:  Jean Cannon is a grandmother and deeply committed to helping to improve the legacy we are leaving our children. Jean’s philosophy is that by going green you can make more money. She is both an environmental scientist and a pragmatic business person — an enviro-entrepreneur.

Jean is the author of three books — REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT — IT IS EASY BEING GREEN — GREEN YOUR BUSINESS: THE DO-IT-YOURSELF MANUAL — and is a contributing author to another.  To learn more about Jean Cannon and her important books, go to Jean Cannon, Author.

Thanks, Jean.  – Brian Alan Burhoe

 

==>> What Is Really Canada’s National Animal?  The Polar Bear!  Want To Know Why?  SEE  CANADA’S NATIONAL ANIMAL – THE POLAR BEAR.

 

NOTE: The artwork at top of page is by Charles Livingston Bull, illustrating the short story THE SUMMONS OF THE NORTH by Sir Charles G D Roberts.

[1]Canada’s Greenest Prime Minister Brian Mulroney…”  In 1987, Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney spearheaded the The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer   — signing countries committed to reducing, and eventually completely stopping, production of chemicals such as CFCs that contribute to breaking down the ozone layer.  Remember CFCs — Chlorofluorocarbons?  Our refrigerators, air conditioners and spray cans used to be full of them.

And Remember Acid Rain?  Brian Mulroney began negotiations with President Ronald Reagan in 1986 on the deadly phenomenon.  The Canada-US Acid Rain Treaty was signed by Prime Minister Mulroney and President George H W Bush in 1991.  Our Great Lakes are showing sure signs of recovery.

The legacy of Brian Mulroney, Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush to the environment is a proud one.  And a surprise to many.

teddy-roosevelt-climate-changeHistorically, the whole concept of Conservation came from the Right, not the Left.  The very word “Ecology” was coined by German traditional conservative landowners who were fighting the massive destruction of their beloved woodlands (valiantly protecting what Wilhelms Riehl called the “mythic darkness of the primordial forest”) and their rich ancestral soil by the new international liberal forces of Progress and coal-fed industrialism.

And President Teddy Roosevelt was warning Americans about “Climate Change” and “Deforestation” way back in 1908, in his prophetic  “Eighth Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives” –  See Teddy Roosevelt Called it Climate Change in 1908!

[2] “We have no God-given right to survive forever. We have screwed up so badly in so many ways so obviously that only an utterly stupid species would consider that we have much of a future, as things stand,” Farley Mowat once said.  “In the end, my crusades have accomplished nothing. I haven’t saved the wolf, the whales, the seals, primitive man or the Outport people. All I’ve done is to document the suicidal tendencies of modern man. I’m sure I haven’t altered the course of human events one iota.”

NOTE: I understand Farley’s discouragement when he spoke those words.  But I disagree with him.  Like Grey Owl before him, whose writings and costumed performances had a lot to do with saving the Canadian beaver from extinction, Farley has made a colossal difference.  His NEVER CRY WOLF, for instance, created a passion for saving the wolf that has kept on growing. He planted seeds.  They are still growing.  See my Happy Birthday, Farley Mowat! Tribute to a Hero

[3]  In a recent presentation — “The Effect of Mega-agriculture on the Health of Animals” — Dr Greg Harrison said, “There is broad evidence of the adverse effects of today’s mega-agriculture on all animals. Mega-agriculture includes the use of GMO or genetic modified organisms, glyphosate-ready crops, pesticides and artificial fertilizers. The effects range from behavior and reproductive disorders to immune suppression and cancers. All these issues point to the value of encouraging organic farming and being proactive in preventing these calamities in the first place.”

 

Global Climate Change Facts: COP21 Climate Change Conference Paris 2015

Keywords: climate change definition, climate change facts, global climate change, global warming, grey owl, mega-agriculture, organic food, organic gardening, polar bears, scienced-based, what is climate

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About Brian Alan Burhoe

A Graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course, Brian Alan Burhoe has cooked in Atlantic Coast restaurants and institutional kitchens for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Brian's articles reflect his interests in food service, Canadian history, imaginative literature, wildlife writing, animal rights, wilderness preservation and our best friends -- our dogs. See his CIVILIZED BEARS!
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