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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
During a routine observation of the St. Lawrence River beluga whales in 2016, marine biologist Robert Michaud noticed the pod had acquired a peculiar straggler.
Swimming with the belugas was a male narwhal: a spiral-tusked, 2,000-pound mammal whose kind is seldom seen wandering this far south of the Arctic Ocean. And, he’s showing interest in mating with a beluga.
Such an event would produce an ultra-rare cross-breed that occurred only once before in recorded history. Is this the year a narluga will be conceived?
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Disclosures: Biodiversity concerns represent the next frontier in climate disclosure, says a new framework designed by leaders from 34 financial institutions, businesses and market service providers.
- Opinion: Private investors are key to a more climate-resilient Canada, writes Rob Wesseling and Don Iveson
- Forestry: One of Canada’s largest timber companies is setting aside some of its timberlands in B.C. after concluding it can make more money from selling carbon credits than from logging
- Energy: A report about Canada’s role in the global green economy is urging the country to accelerate the move to clean tech, as the war in Ukraine disrupts energy markets
- From The Narwhal: Nuchatlaht take fight for heavily logged territory to B.C. Supreme Court. Here’s what you need to know
A deeper dive
The highway that disappeared
Nancy MacDonald is a national reporter at The Globe, located out of B.C. For this week’s deeper dive, she talks about the work behind our visual project about a highway destroyed by the flooding out west.
Of the many highways battered by the atmospheric river that swept through B.C. last November, causing widespread flooding, none was more thoroughly destroyed than Highway 8.
The first time I visited last November, four bridges were down. Great, big chunks of the road were gone.
The Globe wanted to show readers what the raging Nicola River had done to Highway 8. So, photographer Art Gajda strapped a camera to the base of a helicopter The Globe chartered for the purpose. He filmed the entire length of it — from Spences Bridge to Merritt.
Back then, all but a handful of residents were living in motel rooms, or staying with friends and family. The only way in was on a steep, muddy logging road. But there was no heat or internet in the valley. The river had taken out every last cellphone, gas and power line. You couldn’t even dial 911.
Michelle Stone, a member of the Shackan Indian Band took me to meet the handful of people who stayed behind — an often terrifying, two-hour journey in her pick-up.
It was pitch black by the time we reached the valley floor. Michelle’s neighbour, Randy Ryzak, and his lovely wife Linda invited us to spend the night. They had heat and lights, thanks to a generator, but no way to leave their property: the bridge to it was gone. Randy and another neighbour, rancher Wayne MacDonald had laid logs across the river, allowing us to walk over.
We stayed up late, drinking wine — and later, sambuca — talking about the flood, and the Lytton Creek wildfire that had torn through the valley three months to the day before it. Linda shook describing running for her life from the fire, with just the clothes on her back.
I’ve returned two more times, and have fallen in love with the Nicola Valley, and the kind, giving people who call it home.
The story also had a lasting impact on Art, who adopted a puppy from Kim Cardinal, another woman whose story we feature.
Lucy is now a great, white bear of a dog. And Highway 8, after four long months, has finally been rebuilt. But the flood, and the fire that came before it, and all the pain and trauma they caused the people who live along Highway 8, will never be forgotten.
What else you missed
- New coal mine projects expand global methane emissions by a fifth: report
- Dike upgrades to protect N.S.-N.B. land link from flooding expected to cost up to $300-million
- Nooksack River, source of B.C. and Washington flooding fears, to get new plan
- Ocean warming threatens more frequent bleaching of Great Barrier Reef: report
- B.C. surf town cuts out plastic forks, knives in growing pollution prevention efforts
- Chile’s new president emphasizes green credentials with environmental treaty U-turn
Opinion and analysis
Grant Bishop: Canada can re-envision itself as a great arsenal of energy for democracy
Canada’s major banks confront the hidden role of financed emissions
Canada’s major banks are starting to fill in the blanks on how they plan to deal with their biggest climate problem – the carbon emissions from their industrial clients, writes Jeffrey Jones.
This is certainly an inexact science. The banks concede that today’s estimates include a lot of assumptions. But at least they are getting down to the work required, and it starts the process of being able to judge how effective the programs will be over time.
- Stocks with a sustainable focus appeal to this portfolio manager
- Demand for sustainable funds wanes as Ukraine war puts focus on oil and gas
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of John Cherry raising awareness of protecting groundwater.
Hi, I’m John Cherry, 80, from Nova Scotia/Ottawa, and I’m leader of the Groundwater Project, a charitable Canadian NGO. I’m also a Royal Society Canada fellow and a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Waterloo University. Also a winner of the Stockholm Water Prize (2020); Singapore Water Prize (2016).
As an environmental scientist, my focus is on water beneath the soil. I initiated the Groundwater Project in 2017 to counter misinformation and raise awareness of groundwater. Our mission is to promote groundwater learning by developing and publishing books on a wide range of groundwater topics. They are available for free downloading with translation into 120 languages under way. Half of humanity relies on groundwater for drinking water and growing food. And yet, because we misunderstand and undervalue groundwater, we are overusing and polluting this precious resource. It’s understandable because groundwater is out of sight. We don’t learn about it in school. And yet, almost all the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater. Protecting and sustainably using groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of the world’s growing population. The United Nations has made groundwater the focus of World Water Day on March 22. My hope is that society becomes aware of the nature, magnitude and urgency of this crisis and how proper groundwater management is the solution.
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 COP26, 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
- Russian oil ban puts spotlight on Canada, and our climate ambitions
- In Russia’s war against Ukraine, energy is a weapon
- IPCC report delves into our lack of preparedness, can we still be resilient?
- Beijing proved you don’t need winter to host an Olympic Winter Games