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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.

Remember energy conservation efforts from back in the 1970s? It was a result of a series of global events that caused shortages, skyrocketing prices and panic, recalls Jackie Forrest, the executive director of the ARC Energy Research Institute.

Today, energy conservation efforts revolve around climate change, and everyone can play a part. To get started, work to improve your energy literacy: Do you know how much you’re consuming? Do you see areas of improvement in your own home? Once you know that, you can adjust your habits. For that, check out these lessons on electricity consumption.

Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Resources: IEA tells Ottawa that consultation with provinces are key to reducing energy sector’s emissions; Alberta earmarks $30-million for carbon capture projects so technology is ‘ready to go’ ahead of federal tax credit; Canada is playing catch-up in global frenzy for lithium, as China’s grip on critical clean energy mineral tightens
  2. World: Climate change is playing a role in putting more girls in Nepal at risk of child marriage, as families struggle to find options for financial hardships due to extreme weather and natural disasters.
  3. Life: Sustainable wine growing efforts is one trend we’re sure to see in 2022; travel sector offers greener, more sustainable options
  4. Solutions: Ottawa’s new science grant recipients to tackle complex challenges, including Indigenous-led solutions to stem biodiversity loss
  5. From The Narwhal: The biggest land use plan in the world -- how Nunavut is putting mining and conservation on the map

PS: It’s snowing across the country. A lot! Will your dog be buried in the snow today? Try our calculator


A deeper dive

How does climate change alter the avalanche space?

Salmaan Farooqui is a reporter based in interior B.C. for The Globe and Mail. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about changing avalanche forecasting.

As an avid backcountry snowboarder, avalanches are something I’m always thinking about. I’m still haunted by my avalanche safety instructor describing what it was like to get buried in one.

When the winter season started in interior B.C. this year, there was one thing that kept coming up in discussions and backcountry workshops: How were the atmospheric rivers from December going to affect the snowpack? They left a thick icy crust on top of the snow across Western Canada, which would serve as a problematic layer which avalanches could slide off from in the right conditions. As one avalanche expert said in a seminar I attended, nobody really knew how the crusts would play out over the course of the winter. It got me thinking about how climate change was altering the avalanche space.

Peter Thurlow (orange jacket) and James Floyer assess how different layers of snow are bonding in a snow pit they dug out. Thurlow applies force to a column of snow to see whether a weak layer will break off and slide. December 17, 2021Salmaan Farooqui/The Globe and Mail

It was a real highlight to get to go into the backcountry for this piece with Avalanche Canada forecasters, some of the most knowledgeable people in avalanche prevention and forecasting. On Mount Mackenzie in Revelstoke, they were able to show me these rain layers in the snowpack, and how storm and wind events make them more problematic. These rain layers have already caused surprising avalanches near my town of Rossland that have the power to snap trees and bury cars.

While avalanches are common and rain crust layers are not at all unheard of, research from avalanche experts show a they are becoming more common in alpine spaces.

Peter Thurlow uses a measuring tool and a magnifying glass to look at the size of snow crystals in different layers of the snow. Avalanche Canada has fiedl teams that assess snow throughout Western Canada, as well as in Newfoundland. December 17, 2021Salmaan Farooqui/The Globe and Mail

What really surprised me though is what avalanche experts had to say about how changing summer weather also influenced slides. Massive wildfires and mudslides are clearing trees from countless slopes. Trees act as an anchor that prevent avalanches from propagating, and so new avalanche terrain that could threaten highways is being created.

As a photographer, one of the luckiest things about reporting this piece was the weather on our field day. Every time I’ve been snowboarding in Revelstoke, it looks like you’re inside a ping pong ball because of the intense fog and cloud. But the clouds were beneath us in the valley on our field day and the sun was out. Snapping good photos was like shooting fish in a barrel.

- Salmaan

Peter Thurlow surveys the northwest facing slopes of Mount Mackenzie. Wind has blown more snow onto this side of the mountain, creating more dangerous avalanche conditions on steep slopes. December 17, 2021Salmaan Farooqui/The Globe and Mail


What else you missed


Opinion and analysis

Marcus Gee: There are reasons for hope amid environmental gloom

Eric Reguly: Big Oil’s green revolution has been postponed again, never mind the climate


Green Investing

Investors will pay the price if the holes in climate-disclosure regulations aren’t tightened, writes sustainable finance reporter Jeffrey Jones.

Even as plans develop to make disclosure of such data mandatory, the question remains of how stringent these rules will be. These are rules aimed at clearing up confusion for investors and regulators about a company’s resilience in the face of a changing climate.

“It’s important stuff, as investors clamour for standardized reporting to help them judge which companies will thrive in a lower-carbon world and which could implode,” he says.

Also in the news:


Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Sam Kashani eliminating food waste.

Sam KashaniHandout

Hi, my name is Sam Kashani, I am 35 years old and currently live in Toronto. I oversee operations and expansion of the Canadian chapter of Too Good To Go.

As a certified B-Corporation and social impact company, we are unified by a single vision: a planet with no food waste. Our marketplace (app) connects consumers with businesses that offer their daily surplus food at a fraction of the retail cost, benefiting both the industry and the customer; but most of all, the planet.

I am a firm believer that business can be a source for good in this world and my personal mission is to ensure our expansion and operation is directly having a positive social impact.

Food waste is responsible for over 8 per cent of the GhG (Greenhouse Gases) emitted into the atmosphere - we can be part of the solution by not wasting the food we produce. My personal goal is to democratize the fight against food waste and give Canadians the tools to join this movement all while inspiring them to reduce their own food waste at home!

- Sam

Do you know an engaged individual? Someone who represents the real engines pursuing change in the country? Email us at GlobeClimate@globeandmail.com to tell us about them.


Photo of the week

Jessica Pitschke, left, and Sierra Vandenberg finish off hot drinks as they take a break from skating along the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for Ottawa with expected windchill values of -35 degrees C.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press


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