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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
Did you have a good Earth Day? Well, I suppose every day is Earth Day. But we like to celebrate the Earth especially on Mondays, when this newsletter publishes!
To help keep track of how well Canada is taking care of the Earth, we’ve created a guide to help you tally all the pledges Ottawa has made to fight climate change. Is Canada keeping its promises on climate change? The Globe tracks its progress
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Habitat loss: Port of Vancouver gears up to build $3.5-billion container terminal
- Global warming: Warming temperatures are turning permafrost regions into carbon sinks, research suggests
- Wildlife: Ottawa’s efforts to protect species at risk are falling short, environment commissioner says
- Government probe: Ottawa orders probe of cleantech agency Sustainable Development Technology Canada after allegations of conflict
- Taxes: Little-publicized deadline means scores of Canadians will get their carbon levy rebate late
- EV subsidies: Volkswagen could be a legacy-building moment or a boomtown pipe dream
- Alberta’s climate plan: Alberta aims for net-zero economy by 2050, matching federal target. Plus Kelly Cryderman’s column on the UCP’s first emission plan.
- Imperial oil’s spill: Imperial Oil CEO, executives called before Commons committee to explain toxic spill (So, interesting to note that their CEO is the best-paid in Canadian energy at $17.3-million)
- Real estate: Vancouver high-rise Canada’s first new commercial build to achieve net-zero status
- Pollution: Suncor reports release of six million litres of water from settling pond on Fort Hills oil sands mine
- Climate-related disaster: Panel recommends overhaul of Canada’s disaster aid system to confront era of climate change
- On the ground with The Narwhal: ‘This land means everything.’ the messy journey to create a national urban park in Windsor
A deeper dive
Ivan Semeniuk is the science reporter for The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, he talks about the future of Earthly education.
Often the experts that have the most to tell us about the environmental crises we face are researchers working at the frontlines of climate change, biodiversity loss and chemical contamination. They are well-positioned to explain the changes they see occurring around the planet, sometimes in granular detail.
Yet there’s also something to be said for those whose work and training provides a broader view — one so broad that our entire planet is no more than a mote of dust if it is in the picture at all.
That is the view of astrophysicists and cosmologists who are trying to understand the origin and nature of the universe as a whole. Over the past century their progress has been remarkable. Because of it, we know today that our solar system is one of billions in the Milky Way galaxy, which is only one of billions of galaxies in the observable universe.
We also know that the raw materials of life are found everywhere in the universe. Yet the presence of life has so far only been observed in one place — right here on Earth.
At the very least, the persistent lack of radio signals filling up interstellar space tells us that something is going on that we don’t understand. Civilizations like ours seem to be exceedingly rare in our galaxy, or exceedingly short-lived.
Add to this the fact that, after millions of years of human evolution, a mere 2½ centuries of industrialization has put our species and others at existential risk and it’s easy to understand why astronomers are getting worried. The implication of being alone in a vast universe is that we need to be careful about what we are doing as a species.
I have always been interested when researchers who study the universe as a whole turn their attention to terrestrial matters. Over the years this has led to the establishment of various centres and institutes that try to bring a cross-disciplinary approach to looking at how we can ensure the viability of life on Earth for millions of years to come. Now an effort led by astrophysicists at the University of Toronto is proposing a similar initiative there.
In my recent story about The School of Cosmic Future, I describe some of what they hope to achieve. Whether or not the effort succeeds, it’s an example of how the task of managing our planet sustainably is one that can and should include everyone — even those who spend their time on Earth looking up at the stars.
What else you missed
- Judge dismisses youth climate lawsuit over Ontario’s greenhouse gas targets
- Maine takes Canadian Pacific Kansas City railroad to task over cleanup after derailment
- Former consultant to wind industry warns of turbines’ toll on migrant birds in Nova Scotia
- Alberta oil sands emissions could be underestimated by current measuring methods, study says
- Suncor has reported dead birds at an oil sands tailings pond, Alberta Energy Regulator says
- UBC students construct one of Canada’s first ‘carbon-minimal’ hempcrete buildings
- U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs Exxon, Suncor and Chevron appeals in climate cases
- North Vancouver man fined for repeatedly feeding black bear and cub
- EU lawmakers approve law banning imports of goods linked to deforestation
- Outdoor store Mountain Equipment Co. commits to cutting carbon emissions from products, supply chain
- Biden administration plans new forest protections, issues old-growth inventory
Opinion and analysis
Christine Smith-Martin: Marine-protected areas represent the future of a sustainable coast
Mark Richardson: If we want to reduce emissions, are ZEV mandates really the best way?
Peter McKenzie-Brown: Bird banding gives us incredible insights into avian life – and our planet
Anne Dalziel Patton: I swim in the Salish Sea because the cold water makes me feel so alive
Kerry Gold: Planned park may bring Bowen Island development saga to a close
Alberta wind farm closes financing that rewards ESG performance
Potentia Renewables Inc. and Greengate Power Corp. have closed $250-million in financing for their newest Alberta wind farm joint venture, taking advantage of an unusual debt product that rewards borrowers for meeting climate and social objectives and penalizes them if they fail to meet those goals.
- Canada’s financial support for clean energy transition is competitive with U.S., report says
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of The Starfish.
The Starfish Canada celebrates young environmental leaders by connecting them with a platform for storytelling and a community of changemakers. We love programs that empower youth to be stronger climate leaders!
They have a journal with lots of reading material, run youth leadership labs, and last year, the Youth Advisory Action Committee (YAAC) focused on developing and producing the first edition of the Young Environmentalist’s Guidebook.
In the coming months, we will be highlighting winners of the Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25. Keep an eye out for them!
(And psst, consider applying or encouraging others to apply in the future)
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 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
- How Vietnam challenges what ‘climate refugees’ look like
- We went to Peruvian oil country to see the lack of Canadian corporate oversight
- Do we need a moratorium to save the mackerel population?
- This is the most consequential budget for climate in years. Here’s what to watch