Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
This week, Tropical Storm Isaias spawned tornadoes and dumped rain along the U.S. East Coast. The storm later downgraded and touched down in Quebec causing heavy rains and power outages. Hydro-Québec reported more than 60,000 people without power at one point.
In June, research from Environment Canada found that climate change is behind more extreme rainfalls and suggests the problem is likely to get worse. Canadian research also found that climate was fuelling flooding as Canada’s costliest and fastest-growing extreme-weather challenge.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- The fight for climate change and the fight for strong economic growth in Canada are hard to solve together. The environment still looms as a longer-term issue that demands action, it’s the solution that divides Canadians. Read another Data Dive with Nik Nanos: How the pandemic has changed our views on climate change.
- For months, many investors have been taking a step back from Alberta’s oil sands because of environmental concerns. Now, the president of one of Canada’s biggest oil producers says meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets is crucial to earn the support of banks and investors, and ensure the long-term success of the sector.
A deeper dive
A tipping point in the Arctic
Ryan MacDonald is a senior editor at The Globe heading the climate, environment and resources team. For this week’s deeper dive, he looks at some of our recent Arctic reporting.
It is hard to imagine the scale of the loss.
The Milne Ice Shelf on the northwest coast of Ellesmere Island was the last intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic – until July 31, when several large pieces broke away. The only comparable formation, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, is larger but has already split into two separate sections.
Over all, the ice shelf appears to have lost about 43 per cent of its total surface area. The largest piece to have broken away measures 55 square kilometres – nearly equal in area to the island of Manhattan.
The break up marks a turning point for the Arctic, writes Ivan Semeniuk, the Globe’s science reporter: it shows us what lies in store for similar formations around the globe as a result of climate change.
It’s Ivan’s job to put these stories into context, but it is the job of scientists to track what’s happening to the Arctic. To that end, I invite to you go deeper and explore what’s at stake for Canada’s Far North through these stories:
- Arctic scientists look to local support for projects sidelined by COVID-19
- Growing Arctic waves set to menace coasts, scientists say
- Canadian Arctic awash in microplastics, study finds
What these stories, and the tragic loss of the Milne Ice Shelf, show is that without science we are less likely to understand the activities that are fuelling climate change. And without people like Adrienne White, an analyst with the Canadian Ice Service who was the first to spot the ice shelf collapse, we won’t be aware of what we’re losing and how fast we’re losing it.
Without science, we won’t see the tipping point before it’s too late.
- Ryan MacDonald
What else you missed
- Mystery seeds showing up in Canadian mailboxes may be related to ‘brushing’ scams: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned gardeners last week not to plant any seeds they received in the mail without ordering, warning that they could be harmful to the environment.
- 25.5 per cent of herbivore species are at risk of extinction: By comparison, 17.4 per cent of the predators and 15.8 per cent of omnivores were at risk, said study lead author Trisha Atwood, an ecologist at Utah State University.
- Provinces not doing enough to prepare for rising risk of flooding, report says: The results are based on interviews with 139 provincial and territorial officials, assessing categories such as including emergency plans, flood mapping, critical infrastructure protection and land-use planning.
- Mauritius scrambles to counter oil spill from grounded ship: The government has declared an environmental emergency and France said it was sending help from its nearby Reunion island. Clean-up efforts are underway, but questions are coming up about how authorities dealt with the ship.
- Economic meltdown threatens Europe’s war on plastic: As lockdowns were put in place worldwide, a drop in demand for oil pushed prices to historic lows, making virgin plastics -- already becoming cheaper than the recycled equivalent -- even more affordable.
Opinion and analysis
Young professionals want a new energy future for Canada
Molly Beckel and Kevin Krausert: " Unprecedented technological disruption and the tension of a world with growing energy demands and the need to address and mitigate climate change has forced the industry’s young professionals to question its future in ways never contemplated.”
Here’s what readers had to say
Last week we published an opinion piece about what it would mean if the world were to lose polar bears due to climate change. This week we are sharing some comments from the discussion following the piece:
- AE: I care about the environment deeply but I have come to the conclusion that people really don’t care about their environment unless they can see an immediate and direct threat to themselves.
- Bob1400: The Arctic is on fire, it’s really hot there, switch off your computers and do some of your own observations rather than trying to find a website that states what you want to believe.
- Sabelle: Too many of these comments prove that our species, humankind, is a truly deadly force on our planet.
Each week The Globe will profile a young person making a difference in Canada. This week we’re highlighting the work of Manvi Bhalla who is “Shaking it up.”
My name is Manvi Bhalla, I am a 22-year-old community organizer, activist, as well as a graduate student in Public Health & Health Systems. From age 11, I have been a leader in NGOs and award-winning community-based outreach. I am also a published scientific researcher, and guest lecturer on Environmental Racism and Justice.
My master’s thesis is on climate change-related health risk communication, and the understanding of this issue by public health authorities. Most recently, I have been an expert reviewer on the new federal government report on the health of Canadians as it pertains to the climate crisis. Currently, I am the president and co-founder of a non-profit, called Shake Up The Establishment.
I believe the biggest action we can take to address the climate crisis is to remain engaged in discussing systems-based reforms. Topics such as electoral reform, defunding the police, reformative justice, and supporting ‘land back’ campaigns, are not radical and unattainable ideals, but rather the minimum we can do to support underserved communities.
Be an active, non-silent ally. Being “political” at every dinner table is necessary to help reach those that might not otherwise be introduced to these ideas.
Do you know an engaged young person? 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
- We’ve rounded up our reporters’ content to help you learn about sustainable ways to live life at home, travel, invest, and generally to learn about our species at risk.
- 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
- Alberta is having a moment with Europe in addressing climate risks
- Without Alberta, Canada can’t hit its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, Natural Resources Minster says
- Arctic scientists turn to local communities for support as pandemic sidelines research
- B.C.‘s Indigenous power producers fear they’ll be short-circuited by Clean Energy Act changes