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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Methane has long been known to be a major contributor to climate change, with livestock — particularly cattle — among the chief culprits of methane production (mostly through belching). But one B.C. company thinks they may have a solution: kelp.
Cascadia Seaweed Corp., based in Sidney, B.C., started farming seaweed in 2019 with a couple of small test plots. This year, it expects to harvest 50 tonnes of kelp from seven sites. Now, as Wendy Stueck reports, the company is looking at using seaweed in agriculture feed, hoping that the addition of kelp could help reduce the methane emissions produced by livestock. To date, Cascadia has raised about $7-million from investors and received about $3-million in grants.
Spencer Serin, an instructor at Vancouver Island’s North Island College who is working with Cascadia on seaweed research, thinks the company is on to something. “As we see the effects of climate change – reduced yield, decreased top soil, harder to get crops in the Prairies, lot of failures – if we are going to have a sustainable model of animal agriculture, it is good to look toward other sources of protein and nutrients for the animal,” Serin says.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Monarch butterflies: Dwindling populations led the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to add the iconic black and orange butterfly to its list of endangered species last week.
- U.S.: Joe Biden’s climate plan has stalled, but many of his Democratic allies say there is more the U.S. president could be doing to keep his agenda moving.
- Oil: Vancouver City Council has voted to set aside approximately $660,000 for potential legal action against global fossil fuel companies to recoup costs associated with climate change.
- Mining: Lab-grown diamonds are climate-neutral, but luxury companies are struggling to find skilled workers that can produce them at high speed and quality.
- From The Narwhal: In Saskatchewan, land ownership concentration and big money are forcing farmers to clear their lands in order to keep up.
A deeper dive
A week of extreme heat waves forecast a new global reality
Ryan MacDonald is a senior editor at The Globe heading the climate, environment and resources team. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about this week’s record-setting heat events around the world.
Climate change is no longer a future threat. The world is getting hotter — and it’s clear that the world is not prepared for extreme heat.
July saw the first-ever extreme heat warning issued in the United Kingdom where temperatures topped 40 C. Train operators asked customers not to travel, flights were disrupted and the hot air and parched land caused dozens of fires in several cities.
Britain is ill-prepared for extreme heat. And climate scientists say the heat wave should be a wake-up call about climate change and the need to modify buildings and cities to cope with temperature extremes.
Britain was not alone. These climate change-fuelled heat waves are forecasting a new global weather reality.
In the U.S., there are heat warnings and advisories for 28 states as temperatures are expected to climb above once-in-100-years levels over the next week. China is also suffering from sweltering heat, with Shanghai hitting 40.9 C, the city’s highest temperature since 1873.
Here at home, the situation has been far less dire, but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent in preparing for extreme heat events. Canada’s hodgepodge of heat warning systems have been criticized for not reaching people soon enough, or worse still, delivering contradictory advice.
In June, a death review panel convened by the B.C. Coroners Service concluded last year’s extraordinary heat dome led to as many as 619 heat-related deaths, mostly of older people who lived alone and suffered from chronic diseases. Among its major findings was “a lag” between heat alerts issued by the federal Environment Ministry, and the responses of B.C.’s public agencies. The Globe’s Matthew McClearn explains the challenges and what needs to happen next in this piece.
For Canadian cities, much of the danger during extreme heat events is due to our built environment. Elliott Cappell, Toronto’s former chief resilience officers, argues extreme heat should be classified as a natural disaster alongside flooding or earthquakes.
The bigger challenge, however, is to rethink how we build — starting with building codes and standards — in a way that considers a hotter future.
More reading on extreme heat from the Globe:
What else you missed
- Conflicts between humans and polar bears are increasing in the Arctic, due to landfills and climate change
- Canadian lakes are warming and becoming subject to more toxic algae blooms, new research shows
- Almost half of Canada’s bee colonies did not survive last winter, marking the largest rate of colony loss in the past two decades
- Extreme weather conditions in 2021 and again this summer will pose a challenge for Canadian winemakers
Opinion and analysis
The Globe Editorial Board: Can Canada cut emissions without gutting the oil and gas industry? There is no other option
Kelly Cryderman: Canada’s plan for the oil and gas sector might be an overly political, unnecessary relic
Elliott Cappell: When it comes to climate change, Canada is least prepared in the places that matter most
Mike Crawley: Canada can lead the way to use renewable power to produce green hydrogen
Candace MacGibbon: Our allies need more access to Canada’s natural resources
According to a study by the Responsible Investment Association (RIA), Canada is a world leader in responsible investing. Among developed countries, assets under management (AUM) that qualified as green or responsible investments increased by 48 per cent in Canada between 2018 and 2020, with more than $3-trillion invested sustainably in Canada during the same time frame.
Canadians of every stripe are turning on to RI, says Patti Dolan, portfolio manager and certified responsible investment adviser with Wellington-Altus Private Wealth in Calgary, even in oil country: “there is a huge sustainability community here,” she says.
And, as investors seek to reward strong ESG performers, Canadian publicly traded companies are becoming more diligent about improving and sharing details about their practices, which is critical, with ESG credibility currently under fire. These companies aren’t just doing it because investors demand it, Ms. Dolan says. Sustainability also makes sense for their long-term bottom line. “What I find is companies with really good ESG practices are more resilient,” she says.
We will be taking a break from publishing profiles this summer! But we’re still looking for great people to feature. Get in touch with us to have someone included in our “making waves” section for after Labour Day.
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
Guides and Explainers
- Want to learn to invest sustainably? We have a class for that: Green Investing 101 newsletter course for the climate-conscious investor. Not sure you need help? Take our quiz to challenge your knowledge.
- We've rounded up our reporters' content to help you learn about what a carbon tax is, what happened at COP 26, and just generally how Canada will change because of climate change.
- We have ways to make your travelling more sustainable and if you like to read, here are books to help the environmentalist in you grow, as well as a downloadable e-book of Micro Skills - Little Steps to Big Change.
Catch up on Globe Climate (make H3)
- Climate-related migration in Peru’s Amazonas region leads to community upheaval
- What does the future hold for ESG?
- How last year’s B.C. wildfires hit home for artist Brian Jungen
- 30,000 years of climate history on Mount Logan
- Bringing the climate fight to your kitchen