Canada and global warming: a state of denial

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NDP leader Jagmeet Singh revealed part of the party's climate change program today in promising to cut Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in half over the next decade. 

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says his party will cut Canada’s emissions almost in half over the next decade as he tries to stake out a claim to the climate change agenda in the looming federal election.

The pledge is one contained in an NDP motion expected today in the House of Commons that will lay out eight broad strokes of the NDP’s climate change platform. The motion asks for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to declare “an environment and climate emergency” as well as pledge to cut emissions more deeply, eliminate government aid to the fossil fuel industry and cancel the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. ...

That urgency for him means a slow end to the Canadian oil sector, which Singh says is on its way out whether Canadians like the idea or not.

“This is the direction the world is headed,” he said. ...

Last October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned drastic cuts to emissions are needed in the next decade to prevent global warming from becoming catastrophic. That report suggested Canada’s Paris climate change commitment, which would mean cutting annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 28 per cent compared to where they are now, is nowhere near enough.

Singh won’t put a specific number on his targets yet but he agrees the motion is “subtly suggesting” the NDP would aim for the UN targets, which would mean Canada has to cut emissions almost in half by 2030.

The Liberal government’s climate plan, including the carbon tax, getting rid of coal as a source of electricity and subsidizing the purchase of electric cars, still leaves Canada nearly 90 million tonnes shy of hitting the existing goal.

To slash more deeply would require more drastic action in Canada’s energy sector. Oil and gas production and refining accounts for about one-quarter of all Canada’s emissions.



We’re now at 415 ppm!


New scientific data released today indicates carbon dioxide concentrations have now reached a new record, the highest ever during mankind's existence, further emphasizing the need for urgent action on a worldwide basis to deal with the consequences of global warming. 


The inexorable rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

The relentless rise of carbon dioxide: Graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide in ppm versus years for 800,000 years humans have been on Earth

According to data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is over 415 parts per million (ppm), far higher than at any point in the last 800,000 years, since before the evolution of homo sapiens.

High levels of CO2 in the atmosphere -- caused by humans burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests -- prevent the Earth's natural cooling cycle from working, trapping heat near the surface and causing global temperatures to rise and rise, with devastating effects. 

The release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases has already led to a 1C rise in global temperatures, and we are likely locked in for a further rise, if more immediate action is not takenby the world's governments. ...

According to 70 peer-reviewed climate studies, in a world that is 2 degrees warmer, there will be 25% more hot days and heatwaves -- which bring with them major health risks and risks of wildfires. 

Around the world, 37% of the population will be exposed to at least one severe heatwaves every five years, and the average length of droughts will increase by four months, exposing some 388 million people to water scarcity, and 194.5 million to severe droughts. 

Flooding and extreme weather like cyclones and typhoons will increase, wildfires will become more frequent and crop yields will fall. Animal life will be devastated, with some 1 million species at risk of extinction. Mosquitoes however, will thrive, meaning a further 27% of the planet will be at risk of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. 

That's all at 2 degrees, a target that is increasingly becoming a hopeful one. At a temperature rise of 3 or 4 degrees, we enter a "hothouse Earth" stage that could render many parts of the planet uninhabitable.

    All of this has been predicted for decades now. We also know what needs to be done to stop it -- a drastic cut in carbon emissions, reforestation and creation of carbon sinks, and new technologies for carbon capture and other innovations, or, in the words of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society." 

    This can be done, and many are organizing to try to force their governments to take action, but we are running out of time to avoid a world that we literally do not know how to handle.


    In the video in the url below Concoridia University climatologist Damon Mathews discusses the damage the one degree average global temperature rise has already done, including the two degree average rise that has occurred in Canada and the five degree average rise in the country's Arctic region, as well as what this means for fossil fuel production if we are to avoid environmental catastrophe.



    Climate change is also playing a major role in reducing biodiversity with one million species under threat of extinction as the world warms up according to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report released on May 6th. 

    Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.

    Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the Report also draws (for the first time ever at this scale) on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. ...


    The report emphasizes that climate change is playing a major role in reducing the planet's biodiversity:

    • Permitting climate change from the burning of fossil fuels to make it too hot, wet or dry for some species to survive. Almost half of the world’s land mammals — not including bats — and nearly a quarter of the birds have already had their habitats hit hard by global warming. ...

    Fighting climate change and saving species are equally important, the report said, and working on both environmental problems should go hand in hand. Both problems exacerbate each other because a warmer world means fewer species, and a less biodiverse world means fewer trees and plants to remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the air, Lovejoy said. ...

    The world’s coral reefs are a perfect example of where climate change and species loss intersect. If the world warms another 0.5 degrees Celsius, which other reports say is likely, coral reefs will probably dwindle by 70-90 per cent, the report said. At 1 degree, the report said, 99 per cent of the world’s coral will be in trouble. ...

    “We’re in the middle of the sixth great extinction crisis, but it’s happening in slow motion,” said Conservation International and University of California Santa Barbara ecologist Lee Hannah, who was not part of the report. Five times in the past, Earth has undergone mass extinctions where much of life on Earth blinked out, like the one that killed the dinosaurs.



    BC is bracing for how bad the 2019 wildfire season will be after the record-breaking 2017 season, followed by the 2018 season breaking the 2017 season as climate change's impact continues to grow. In 2018 alone equal to 40% of the size of Nova Scotia was destroyed by BC wildfires. Twelve wildfires were already burning in BC by the end of March as the length of the wildfire season continues to grow. This weekend the first community, Fort Fraser, was threatened by a wildfire. The record hot temperatures associated for this time of the year with global warming helped spread the fire. 

    In the wake of two record-breaking years, B.C. is bracing for what could be another intense wildfire season. ...

    Unusually hot and dry weather fuelled an aggressive start to the fire season, with one central B.C. blaze triggering an evacuation order and a local state of emergency over the second weekend of May. Both have since been rescinded, though an evacuation alert remains in place.

    The Lejac fire, as it’s called, was discovered May 11 east of Fraser Lake and had grown to 260 hectares by the following morning. As of May 13, the fire was 50 per cent contained.

    Smoke could be seen from Osoyoos, B.C., in the afternoon as crews battled a roughly 15-hectare blaze 12 km west of the Southern B.C. town. Crews were also dealing with a smaller fire about 25 km east of Kamloops.

    Meanwhile, several other wildfires are burning across the province. The fire danger rating currently ranges from moderate to high, with pockets of extreme danger. ...

    Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, told the Star in early April that “historically, it’s rare to get three bad fire years in a row.”

    “But with our climate changing the way it’s been doing, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had another bad fire season,” he said.



    Climate research has shown that the record-setting 2017 and 2018 BC wildfire seasons have been greatly intensified by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. 

    Research suggests British Columbia's record-setting 2017 wildfire season wasn't an accident and Environment Canada scientists say that climate change stacked the deck against the province from the start.

    In a newly published paper, researchers from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis say hot, dry weather directly caused by greenhouse gas emissions increased the province's fire risk that year by up to four times. The same factors are likely to have increased the amount of land scorched by up to 11 times.

    It's an example of science's growing ability to attribute the influence of climate change on specific events, said Megan Kirchmeier-Young, lead author of the paper published online by the journal Earth's Future. ...

    Kirchmeier-Young's team reached its conclusion through a complicated statistical analysis. They first built climate models based on two scenarios. One used current levels of greenhouse gases and one used levels from 1961 through 1970 before the strongest temperature increases began.

    They took the measure of 2017's wildfire risk from an index developed by Natural Resources Canada and calculated how likely it would be for that risk level to occur under both scenarios. "By comparing these two likelihoods, we can make a statement about how the human climate factors changed the risk," said Kirchmeier-Young.

    The researchers concluded, with 90 per cent certainty, that the addition of greenhouse gas emissions at least doubled and may have quadrupled the chance wildfire risks would reach the extreme values the province experienced in 2017. ...

    The scientists also compared the average area burned each year between 1961 and 1970 with area scorched in 2017. The paper attributes about 90 per cent of the 12,000 square kilometres burned that year to the influence of climate change.

    That figure dwarfed B.C.'s previous record for wildfires. The fires forced about 65,000 people from their homes and destroyed 509 structures, including 229 homes. The province spent more than $522 million fighting the blazes.

    Last summer was even worse. A new record was set when 13,000 square kilometres were devastated. Because the 2018 fires were in different parts of the province, the team wasn't able to tease out how climate change may have loaded the dice last year. But they do estimate about 85 per cent of the area burned can be blamed on climate change.

    Scientists have long warned that more frequent and larger fires are the likely consequence of a warming climate as more heat and less precipitation lengthens the fire season and adds to the fuel load in forests. Kirchmeier-Young said her findings are more evidence that climate change in Canada is much more than a distant threat."Our climate is changing as a result of human influence and Canadians are feeling the effects of that already."


    Once again the Liberals kept repeat that they were "absolutely committed" to their 2020 targets. When the auditor general told them they cannot meet their 2020 targets, their answer is they are "absolutely committed" to their 2030 targets. Considering the fact that emissions are continuing to rise even before their Trans Mountain pipeline that they did not have to buy comes online to further increase emissions, these reassurances are laughable. 

    Despite years of lofty promises from government officials, a recent Auditors General report shows that Canada has made little progress towards its climate action goals. This follows a United Nations (UN) report that says Canada is in danger of missing its 2030 Paris Agreement targets by a wide margin. ...

    Canada’s auditor generals came together in 2016 to begin a collaborative investigation into our country’s progress on climate change action, looking back over recent decades and projecting ahead towards international climate goals. 

    Their report, Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada—A Collaborative Report from Auditors General, was released in March 2018 and the results are concerning. 

    The report details a lack of cohesion and implementation of climate action both within the provinces and territories and at the federal level, which has led to a series of missed climate action targets. Several provinces and territories still don’t have any set goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020, or even 2030. 

    States the report: “Canada has missed two separate emission reduction targets (the 1992 Rio target and the 2005 Kyoto target) and is likely to miss the 2020 Copenhagen target as well. In fact, emissions in 2020 are expected to be nearly 20 per cent above the target.”


    The annual UN Emissions Gap Report monitors the progress countries are making in reducing their carbon and equivalent emissions in relation to their respective 2030 targets, as agreed upon in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

    Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement on climate change, signed onto by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016, is to reduce annual emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030. 

    Released last November, the report states that Canada is well above its pledged target and that gap is expected to widen even further by 2030. ...

    In response to the auditors general report, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told the CBC the federal government is “absolutely committed” to its 2030 target.


    While the NDP needs to answer some serious questions about their climate change plan, the track record of failure on climate change for the Liberals for more than twenty years was once again brought home by the Environment Commissioner Gelfand's report just last month. As Gelfand notes, the failure to meet targets has been common to both Liberal and Conservative governments.

    Why would anyone believe anything the Liberals or Conservatives say on global warming given their track record? 

    Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand says Canada is not doing enough to combat climate change.

    Gelfand delivered her final audits Tuesday before her five-year term expires, looking at fossil-fuel subsidies, invasive aquatic species and mining pollution.

    But her final conclusions as the country's environmental watchdog say it is Canada's slow action to deal with the warming planet that is most "disturbing" to her.

    "For decades, successive federal governments have failed to reach their targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and the government is not ready to adapt to a changing climate," she said in a statement Tuesday morning. "This must change."

    Gelfand's rebuke came a day after Environment Canada scientists sounded an alarm that Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world, causing irreversible changes to our climate. ...

    Gelfand said neither Liberal nor Conservative governments have hit their own targets to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Canada is not on track to hit its 2030 target, despite policies like the national price on carbon that took effect this week. ...

    Gelfand's audit says the Liberals are not keeping a promise to get rid of "inefficient" fossil-fuel subsidies, which are undermining efforts to combat climate change, encouraging wasteful consumption of fossil fuels and discouraging investments in cleaner energy sources.

    Canada has pledged to eliminate inefficient subsidies by 2025 as part of both the G20 and G7 economic groups of nations, and the Liberals also campaigned on a promise to get rid of them. Gelfand concludes that both Finance Canada and Environment Canada have defined "inefficient" so broadly they can't decide what subsidies fall into that category.

    Finance Canada's work on the subsidies focused exclusively on fiscal and economic considerations without giving any attention to the social and environmental issues at play. For its part, Environment and Climate Change Canada only looked at 23 out of more than 200 federal organizations when it compiled an inventory of potential subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry, Gelfand found. ...

    Philip Gass, a senior energy researcher for the International Institute for Sustainable Development, said Tuesday using the World Trade Organization definition of subsidies, his organization found several that could or should be phased out. The IISD list shows more than $1.2 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies from the federal government.


    The Bank of Canada is now identifying climate change for the first time as one of its top concerns for both the economy and the financial system. It finally woke up to the risks.

    he Bank of Canada is highlighting its expanding concerns about climate change and, for the first time, is listing it among the top weak spots for the economy and the financial system.

    The central bank’s financial system health report Thursday included climate change as an important vulnerability, elevating it to a category alongside its long-running worries about household debt and apprehension about the housing market. The assessment is part of the Bank of Canada’s annual review that explores key weaknesses and risks surrounding financial stability. ...

    Climate-change risks include the consequences of extreme weather events, such as flooding, hurricanes and severe droughts.

    In Canada, the bank said insured damage to property and infrastructure averaged about $1.7 billion per year between 2008 to 2017 — 8.5 times higher than the annual average of $200 million from 1983 to 1992. ...

    Beyond the physical damage, the bank said the shift to a lower-carbon economy will be complicated and could be costly for some.

    The transition will likely lead to complicated structural adjustments for carbon-intensive sectors, such as oil and gas, and could leave insurance companies, banks and asset managers more exposed, the report said. In some cases, the bank said fossil fuel reserves could be left in the ground, which could drain the value of important assets.

    The bank said the transformation to a lower-carbon economy also will likely provide a boost to sectors like green technology and alternative energy.

    Both physical and transition risks are likely to have “broad impacts on the economy,” the report said. “Climate change is of interest to central banks because of central bank mandates and how climate change can affect economic performance on the one hand and how it can affect financial stability on the other hand,” Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz told reporters Thursday.

    Last month, a letter co-authored by Bank of England governor Mark Carney and Banque de France governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau urged central bankers and decision-makers in the financial community to act on climate-related risks with concrete steps to preserve the stability of the global system. “We need collective leadership and action across countries and we need to be ambitious,” said the letter, published in the British newspaper the Guardian. “Climate change is a global problem, which requires global solutions, in which the whole financial sector has a crucial role to play.”



    Climate change induced by increasing greenhouse gas emissions has had a devastating effect on the Midwest of the United States this year, demonstrating that flooding is not simply a concern of coastal cities that are subject to flooding from sea level rise.  We have also seen record once in a hundred year floods along the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers. 

    The following article's statement that "This country’s system of flood insurance is broken, in large part to an under-investment in resiliency and a willful ignorance of climate risk." applies equally to Canada and the Liberal and Conservative governments of the last 25 years. 


    Wednesday, March 20, 2019 aerial photo shows flooding near the Platte River in in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, south of Omaha. The worst of the flooding so far has been in Nebraska, southwestern Iowa and northwestern Missouri.

    For areas of the Midwest hit by this year’s deluge of rain and melting snow, extreme weather has caused some of the worst flooding in living memory. Governors declared states of emergency in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and North Dakota. Thousands of homes and farms are facing water damage and the problem will get worse before it gets better. 

    As the record snowpack from the wettest winter on record melts over the next few weeks, it’ll add to already overflowing waterways. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts major flood risk along the Missouri, Mississippi, and Red River of the North, defined as “extensive inundation of structures and roads, significant evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations.” Federal officials warn that 200 million people in 25 states face a flood risk through May. 

    “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season,” Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, told Wired.

    The midwestern floods join the lengthening list of unprecedented and unexpected natural disasters accelerated and made worse by climate change. And, just like other climate events that have caused widespread damage, our planning, resiliency, and flood insurance programs are ill-equipped to cope. ...

    When flood risk in the country is discussed, it’s often in the context of coastal communities and rising sea levels brought on by climate change. “Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate,” a detailed analysis of future flood risks and property damage by the Union of Concerned Scientists, predicted that by 2045, roughly 300,000 homes and commercial properties on the country’s coastline may face chronic, disruptive flooding, threatening $135 billion in property. 

    But overflowing rivers and inland flooding present similar threats. Scientists are still determining the degree to which climate change impacted this spring’s flood cycle, but they do know that warmer temperatures, which lead to more moisture in the air, can potentially turn a minor flood into a full-blown disaster. This winter and early spring, the Mississippi River basin received three times as much rainfall as normal. 

    The last few decades have witnessed an unmistakable trend towards more extreme weather in the Midwest. Heavy-rain events have risen 37 percent since the 1950s, per the National Climate Assessment, which says climate change will bring extreme heat, drought, and heavy downpours to bear on America’s farms and eventually decrease productivity. Going forward, the Midwest is expected to receive some of the greatest increases in yearly precipitation. ...

    This country’s system of flood insurance is broken, in large part to an under-investment in resiliency and a willful ignorance of climate risk.

    Unlike recent hurricanes, which cost insurance companies billions of dollars, this current wave of river floods in the Midwest hasn’t registered as much with the industry, because they have little risk. Few Midwesterners have policies, and few realize the risk, since federal flood insurance maps are often outdated or don’t factor in future risk. ...

    But the economic damage, and insurance risks, of the current disaster will only exacerbate the business woes for farmers in the affected regions, who are already facing economic pressures from current trade wars

    The number of U.S. farms fell by 100,000 between 2010 and 2017, according to the USDA, as consolidation pushed out small farmers. That process will only accelerate after this spring’s flood. Without flood insurance to help get farmers rebound, government at all levels, as well as charitable groups, will need to step in and help.


    The costs associated with flooding are growing exponentially each year in both the US and Canada. 


    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday that recent flooding in the state has caused an estimated $1.6 billion US in damage, pushing the total costs from the devastating Midwest flooding to at least $3 billion US.

    The ongoing flooding along the Missouri River has damaged thousands of homes and inundated vast swathes of agricultural land with water in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. The flooding, which followed heavy rains and snowmelt this month, has also been blamed for three deaths.

    Reynolds said she sent a letter asking U.S. President Donald Trump to quickly issue a disaster declaration for 57 counties in Iowa where businesses, homes and levees have been severely impacted by flooding, including along the Missouri River. More counties may be added to the list.

    More than 1,200 homes in Iowa have been destroyed or extensively damaged, while another 23,540 have at least minor damage, she said. Cost estimates indicate the flooding has caused more than $480 million US in damage to homes, while businesses have suffered $300 million US in damage. Agriculture damage is estimated at $214 million US. ...

    Flooding in Nebraska has caused an estimated $1.4 billion in damage. ...

    About 12.7 kilometres of levees in Iowa operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are damaged or destroyed, and the cost to repair them is estimated at $350 million US. About 281 kilometres of non-federal agriculture levees also need repair, at an additional cost of $175 million US. ...

    The Missouri Department of Transportation said Friday that 120 roads were closed because of flooding, including stretches of Interstate 29 and U.S. 61. The National Weather Service said the Missouri River was expected to crest Friday at levels just short of those reached during historic 1993 flooding in Atchison, Kan., and St. Joseph, Mo. ...

    About 1,200 residents of the Kansas town of Elwood were urged to leave, and the governor eased restrictions on large vehicles carrying relief supplies. Across the river, parts of an industrial area in St. Joseph were inundated with water.

    The Missouri River floodwater surging on an air base housing the U.S. military's Strategic Command overwhelmed round-the-clock sandbagging by airmen and others. They had to scramble to save or move sensitive equipment, munitions and dozens of aircraft. Days into the flooding, muddy water was still lapping at almost 80 flooded buildings at Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base, some inundated by up two metres of water. ...

    The floods were a reminder that the kind of weather extremes escalating with climate change aren't limited to the coasts, said retired Rear Adm. David W. Titley, founder of both the Navy's Task Force on Climate Change and the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University. ...

    The flooding comes during a week in which the NOAA released its spring weather outlook, in which they warned more than 200 million Americans are at risk for some kind of flooding, with 13 million of them at risk of major inundation. About 41 million people are at risk of moderate flooding.


    Today in Alberta we had people return to Marlboro near Edson after being evacuated due to a wildfire nearing the community, but remaining on evacuation alert because of the ongoing danger. Meanwhile, in northern Alberta near Wood Buffalo Park, the 4,000 people of High Level received an evacuation order due to another wildfire. The First Nations community of Bushe River also received evacuation orders issued by Chief and Council of the Dene Tha’ First Nation. 

    Meanwhile people debate if we should do anything about climate change. 

    The order was issued by Chief and Council of the Dene Tha’ First Nation, saying that all residents must register at the Four Chiefs Complex in Bushe River prior to leaving. ...

    About 4,000 people are being forced from their homes in High Level late Monday afternoon as an out-of-control wildfire moved within three kilometres of the northwestern Alberta town. ...

    Officials rescinded an evacuation order covering parts of the small community of Marlboro at 9 a.m. Monday morning. Residents were allowed back into the area west of Edson but were told they may need to evacuate again if the fire situation changes.

     We are even close to the height of the wildfire season in Alberta or Canada. All of the above wildfires threatening the above communities are part of the 23 wildfires, six out of control, occurring in one single day in a wildfire season that now starts March 1st, lasting much longer and more intensely than two short decades ago. On March 1st, the following article describe the smoke covering much of the province. 

    As hard as it is to believe with snow still blanketing much of the province, wildfire season is now underway.

    In Alberta, the season opens March 1, which means Alberta Wildfire has begun preparing firefighting crews to ensure they’re in place around the province. The season begins this early to account for how much longer Alberta summers are lasting in recent years, and so experts have enough time to forecast what kind of season to expect.

    “We’re already seeing longer fire seasons, we’re seeing bigger, more intense fires. British Columbia has had two really bad seasons in a row,” said Glenn McGillivray, managing director with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.

    On May 20, a total of 23 wildfires were active across Alberta.

    On May 20, a total of 23 wildfires were active across Alberta.



    ETA: Mike Flanagan, a wildland fire professor makes the connection between wildfires and global warming. Alberta, BC and the North have had the highest temperatures rises since 1948 due to climate change and these are regions suffering the most form global warming, including wildfires. 

    With three communities in Alberta under threat in a single day and the largest uncontrolled fire already having burned more than 700 sq. km., the wildfire season looks to be another one of great damage.

    Don't worry though the Liberals and Conservatives are planning to build more pipelines. 

    A change in weather patterns, stoked by climate change, has a wildfire expert predicting "a hot, smoky future" for Canadian summers. The spectre of wildfires looms in B.C., Alberta and Ontario — provinces that have been repeatedly scorched by catastrophic fires in recent years.

    Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, is warning that a dramatic rise in temperature and a changing climate have pushed things over the edge and will continue to cause unprecedented wildfires. "We can't always rely on our experience and the history of what we've seen in fire; we're moving into new territory," he told CBC Radio's special Smoked Out.

    An average of about 2.5 million hectares of land is charred every year during Canada's annual wildfire season, he says. "That's half the size of Nova Scotia, and it's doubled since the early '70s due to our changing climate," said Flannigan, who's also the director of the Western Partnership for Wildland Fire Science in Edmonton.

    Climate change's role in reshaping wildfires

    His research suggests the size of land consumed by wildfires will double or quadruple — again — as the earth heats up. According to Natural Resources Canada, about 3.4 million hectares of land was consumed by wildfires in 2017 — well beyond the annual average. Ministry data shows in recent years fire destruction has steadily climbed in terms of area covered. ...

    Canada is, on average, experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, according to Canada's Changing Climate Report. The study, commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada and released last month, found that Canada's annual average temperature over land has warmed 1.7 C since 1948 — with higher rates seen in the North, the Prairies and northern B.C.

    These parts of the country have been some of the hardest hit by wildfires in recent years, Flannigan points out, and that may signal a trend toward longer and more destructive seasons in these areas as a result of climate change.  The devastating 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray saw the largest evacuation in Alberta's history. More than 2,500 homes were destroyed and damage amounted to $9 billion — making it the most expensive natural disaster in the country's history, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. B.C. recently experienced two record-breaking wildfire seasons in a row, and numerous fires have already torching swaths of the north and interior. 

    Image result for map Canada observed changes in annual temperatures 1948 2016



    Hunziker: Custer's Last Stand Meets Global Warming

    "Because we are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness..."


    A just released scientific study involving 22 top ice sheet experts warns that the previous worse case scenario of a 1.0 metre sea level rise by 2100 under a scenario of continuing on our current growing global emissions fails to take into account several factors that increase this scenario to a 2.0 m rise in sea level. Under a 2.0 m rise, Shangai and New York and many small island nations, especially in the South Pacific, would no longer exist and it would lead to 187 million people being displaced.

    Global sea levels could rise more than two meters (6.6 feet) by the end of this century if emissions continue unchecked, swamping major cities such as New York and Shanghai and displacing up to 187 million people, a new study warns.

    The study, which was released Monday, says sea levels may rise much faster than previously estimated due to the accelerating melting of ice sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica. The international researchers predict that in the worst case scenario under which global temperatures increase by 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, sea levels could rise by more than two meters (6.6 feet) in the same period -- double the upper limit outlined by the UN climate science panel's last major report. 

    Such a situation would be "catastrophic," the authors of the study warn. "It really is pretty grim," lead author Jonathan Bamber, a Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Bristol told CNN. "Two meters is not a good scenario."

    He said the mass displacement of people in low-lying coastal areas would likely result in serious social upheaval. It would also pose an "existential threat" to small island nations in the Pacific which would be left pretty much uninhabitable.  The researchers found that under the extreme-case scenario, about 1.79 million square kilometers (691,120 sq miles) -- an area more than three times the size of California -- would be lost to the sea.

    Such a rise would place up to 187 million people at risk, which is about 2.5% of the world's total population. ... 

    The United Nations climate panel's last major report in 2013 predicted that sea levels would rise between 52 and 98 cm (20.4 inches and 38.5 inches) by 2100 at the current trajectory. But many experts saw those findings as conservative. 

    Scientists are worried that the current models used to predict the influence of massive melting ice sheets have flaws, and fail to capture all of the uncertainties.  To try to get a clearer picture, the report's authors asked 22 ice sheet experts to estimate how the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets might respond to future climate change, using newly advanced regional- and continental-scale, process-based models.  Scientists say there is still time to avoid the worst if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the coming decades.  The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences.