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

We start with a little art this week.

Even those who were fans of Edward Lear might not know that for a brief period starting in the 1830s, following a stint as a medical illustrator and before he produced the nonsense verse that made him famous, he painted birds and animals for scientific publications.

Lear could have run circles around any of his successors. He simply chose not to. Many consider his ornithological paintings to be some of the most beautiful ever produced. So why did Lear’s natural history paintings remain secret for so long?

Now, let’s catch you up on the news.


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. Listen to the Decibel: Novelist, journalist and former Globe reporter Omar El Akkad joins the show to talk about an emerging group of climate refugees. Also, Globe science reporter Ivan Semeniuk is back on the show to explain the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report’s main findings.
  2. From The Narwhal: First Nations communities disproportionately threatened by wildfires, according to new research published by Canadian government scientists
  3. Opinion: U.S. President Joe Biden’s plea to OPEC to crank open the crude taps reveals how short-term political risks slow down the green transition, writes Jeffrey Jones

A deeper dive

Climate misconceptions to get rid of this summer

Ivan Semeniuk is The Globe’s science reporter. For this week’s deeper dive, we take a look at his story about myths we can finally retire about climate change.

Last week the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a massive report that was the most comprehensive and strongly worded assessment yet of the present and future condition of the Earth’s climate.

And yet, this message still has an uphill battle against online disinformation. One week after the initial report was published, we have some information you can use in conversation with the climate skeptics in your life.

Misconception 1: Earth isn’t warming

A change in global average is not something that is readily apparent in local temperature records, where daily and seasonal swings can total many degrees. But observations and computer models show it’s enough to shift the frequency of severe weather events and create long-term changes in permafrost, glaciers and vegetation – which are already becoming obvious.

Misconception 2: Climate change is nothing new

The sort of climate change we’ve seen over the past few million years is like a pedestrian who takes a few steps one way, then a few steps another way and over a long time wanders far from her starting point. What’s happening now is akin to the same pedestrian wandering around on a train that has suddenly started rolling in one direction and is picking up speed.

Misconception 3: People are not the cause

One of the key findings from the report is that the growing impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate is now too big to mistake for something else. For many years, other contributing factors have helped disguise the human impact.

Misconception 4: Cold weather proves the science is wrong

While it can still get bitterly cold in the middle latitudes, including Canadian cities, the bigger picture suggests this is less likely to happen now. And yes, freak cold snaps, such as the one that took down power systems in Texas last winter, are still going to happen.

Misconception 5: Don’t worry, we’ll adapt

Some of this is happening already, but experts on the impact side of climate change say the best option is a multipronged approach that includes shifting to a low-emissions scenario while also adapting to the changes that are already baked in.

Read the full version and follow more science reporting from Ivan as The Globe continues to dig into these topics, now ahead of another election.

Thick smoke from wildfires blankets the area as people use paddleboards on Okanagan Lake, in Lake Country, B.C., on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press


What else you missed

  • Mammoths roamed far and wide, journeying about 70,000 kilometres over the course of their lives – a trip equivalent to nearly twice around the world, possibly to their doom, study says.
  • A pattern of dry, hot weather across the Prairies over the past few years has resulted in a grasshopper infestation of epic proportions, with some experts saying the nuisance is negatively affecting every part of the agriculture industry.
  • Heat warnings and special weather statements covered most of southern British Columbia even before temperatures were forecast to soar through the weekend, magnifying anxiety about wildfire risk.
  • Geoengineering science is advancing, but the question remains – should we use it?
  • Proponents of hydrogen-powered transportation say that in the long run, hydrogen production is destined to become more environmentally safe. How realistic is the promise of hydrogen power as the green fuel of the future?

Opinion and analysis

Kenneth P. Green: The pandemic should have ended Trudeau’s war on plastics

Andrew Hammond: Change at COP26 will be led by the U.S., not Britain

Peter Kuitenbrouwer: Tree planting is forestry and good for the environment and economy. It is not seedling abuse

Arno Kopecky: We are facing a climate-change apocalypse. The good news? Humanity has faced the end many times before


Green Investing

A subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corp. has bought a large tract of forest in Maine to maintain as a carbon sink and source of revenue from third-party emitters seeking offsets in a growing voluntary market.

Manulife has pledged to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and part of its plan includes increasing investments that take advantage of forests and farms to capture carbon. The voluntary carbon offset market is where companies can purchase credits to counteract their own emissions. It could be worth as much as US$100-billion by 2030 but this practice is criticized by some environmental groups as insufficient to meet net-zero targets.

Jeffrey Jones: UN’s blockbuster climate report heightens urgency for businesses to take action

Also read: Climate change is also changing how the insurance industry assesses risk in Canada

Opinion: ESG trend is bypassing most of the global capital market, and that’s bad news for sustainability


Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Devinder Sarai designing carbon capture tools.

Devinder SaraiHandout

Hi! I’m Devinder Sarai, an 18-year-old from Ottawa who enjoys playing the piano, reading, flying planes (I earned my glider pilot’s license before I could legally drive!) and pretty much any sport. I deferred my university admission after graduating a year early from high school to attend Harvard this fall due to the pandemic.

After extensive planning and consultation with experts, I’m currently developing a scalable prototype to capture CO2 from the air and ocean which also will produce the world’s greenest hydrogen gas; for every one tonne produced, 66 tonnes of CO2 will be sequestered. I’m building this in order to apply for Elon Musk’s Carbon Removal XPRIZE where US$250,000 in funding is available for up to 12 student-led teams this October.

This project, called Cequest, has the potential for gigatonne-scale impact. But I can’t do it alone. These projects are expensive and I’d love your help to make it a reality. Click here to watch a video on Cequest and contribute to the project.

- Devinder

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

Visitors walk at the base of melting Svinafellsjokull glacier, a portion of it blackened by volcanic rock and dust, as ice fallen from the glacier floats in a lake of meltwater on August 13, 2021, near Svinafell, Iceland. Iceland is feeling a strong impact from global warming. Since the 1990s 90 per cent of Iceland's glaciers have been retreating and projections for the future show a continued and strong reduction in size of its ice caps.SeanGallup/Getty Images


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