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

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”

Size is not an important factor in making a difference in someone’s life or in any situation. It’s a nice reminder when thinking about solutions to climate change too, that every action counts.

Kevin Hewitt is a physics professor at Dalhousie University, Co-founder of Imhotep’s Legacy and co-founder of the Canadian Black Scientists Network. For Black History month, he reminds us this offers an opportunity to remember the historic contributions of people of African Descent to the sciences. He writes about a few examples of African proverbs and the use of proverbs in the STEM enrichment activities of the ILA’s after school program.

Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.


Noteworthy reporting this week:

  1. EVs: Could this be the gas station of the future? Plus: When it comes to EV batteries, there’s no Holy Grail, and Nissan’s second pure EV arrives in Canada this fall.
  2. Adam Radwanski: Ottawa’s plan for Canada’s 2030 climate target needs to be a reckoning with where we’re really at.
  3. B.C. ranchers who suffered catastrophic flood damage are still desperate for government help. For some, the flood came just three months after they lost some of their herds to the Lytton Creek wildfire.
  4. Off-the-grid life: Despite the harsh realities, interest in the lifestyle soars during pandemic: “When I bought the place, it was like a no man’s land”
  5. From The Narwhal: In Haliburton, Grace the 125-year-old turtle has outlasted bubonic plague, speeding cars and ever-shrinking wetlands

A deeper dive

The Games without natural snow

Kathryn Blaze Baum is environment reporter for The Globe. For this week’s deeper dive, she talks about climate change at the Olympics

When you turn on your TV to watch the Beijing Winter Games, something quintessentially winter will be missing: natural snow.

Yes, previous Olympics have relied heavily on machine-made snow, but this year’s competition is the first in history to depend entirely on it.

The site of the ski and snowboard events is a mountainous zone in Northern China that, in an average year, gets an estimated 20 centimetres of snow. It’s not as if anyone, including the International Olympic Committee, was expecting snow to fall from the sky and blanket the venues. But the fact that we’re watching a Games without natural snow has underscored the realities of climate change and the shorter, increasingly unpredictable ski seasons it brings.

A snowmaking machine is seen at the Genting Snow park, a venue for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, during a media tour of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games venues in Chongli county, Zhangjiakou city, China's Hebei province on December 21, 2021.WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to high-performance winter sports, it’s not just skiiers and snowboarders that are bearing the brunt of a warming planet.

Canadian Olympic bobsledder Oluseyi Smith is among the athletes featured in a recent report from Loughborough University London, entitled Slippery Slopes: How Climate Change Is Threatening the Winter Olympics. He says rising global temperatures have pushed the start of the sliding season later into the year and make it harder to maintain good quality ice for training and competitions. The result? Exceptionally bumpy ice surfaces that can elevate the risk of concussions, as well as an increased reliance on artificial refrigeration measures to try to improve track conditions.

I reached Mr. Smith by phone at the Olympic Village in Beijing, where he’s acting as an athlete mentor and campaigning for a position on the IOC’s athletes commission. He’s running on a sustainability platform, saying climate change is the most pressing issue facing sports today.

Mr. Smith spoke of his experience sliding down the natural bob track in St. Moritz, Switzerland – a venue he worries won’t exist, at least not in the same way, in years to come.

“It’s just so quiet and smooth,” he said.

And it might be lost to future generations. Read more about it as the Olympics jump into their second week.

-Kathryn Blaze Baum, environment reporter

Snow machines make artificial snow near the ski jumping venue for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics before the area closed to visitors, on January 2, 2022 in Chongli county, Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, northern China.Kevin Frayer/Getty Images


What else you missed


Opinion and analysis

Grant Bishop: Lack of access to data is hindering Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero targets

Andrew Willis: Oil sands companies have financial muscle to go their own way on emission reductions

Alexandra Gill Review: Pandemic-hardened Barbara a sustainable template for the future of restaurants

Doug Saunders: For Canada, organic food is an expensive status symbol. For Sri Lanka, it’s a catastrophe


Green Investing

Demand for ESG grows but fewer consider offsetting portfolio emissions with carbon credits

As environmental, social and governance strategies have gained ground over the past several years, investors and advisers can take their efforts a step further by measuring their portfolios’ carbon emissions -- even if the notion hasn’t yet caught fire among investors.

But the potential is there given the growing demand for ESG strategies. Investments in ESG-focused funds globally grew by a record high of US$649-billion in assets under management (AUM) in 2021, according to data from Refinitiv Lipper. That’s up from a growth of US$542-billion in 2020 and US$285-billion in 2019.

More recently, investment products have emerged including two Canadian-listed exchange-traded funds from Evolve Funds. Sign up to read more from Globe Advisor.


Making waves

Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting Cheyenne Sundance, farm director at Sundance Harvest in Toronto.

Cheyenne Sundance tends to her garden at the urban farming business, Sundance Farms, she runs out of a greenhouse in Downsview Park in Toronto, Monday, April 27, 2020.Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

At 24, Cheyenne Sundance has just started her career in sustainability, pursuing an entrepreneurial path that allows her to be her own boss.

Ms. Sundance opened her for-profit farming operation, Sundance Harvest, in 2019. To date, she rents two greenhouses on 1.5 acres of land in Toronto’s Downsview area, where she grows organic produce for seasonal boxes which are delivered directly to consumers.

“I never saw a representation of myself in this career, except through migrant labour, exploitation or non-profits who get funding,” she says. “And I saw a [vision for] a sustainable, for-profit farm.”

As a young, Black woman – without the intergenerational wealth that many Canadian farmers benefit from – Ms. Sundance is overcoming barriers in her mission to grow crops responsibly and without pesticides. “That’s really why I started. I couldn’t find one Black-owned farm,” she says.

Ms. Sundance is starting the National Farmer’s Association’s first BIPOC caucus and works with young people who feel left out of the industry through her program Growing in the Margins. Offered in the spring and summer, the program assists youth who identify as low-income, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S or a person with a disability, with Ms. Sundance sharing her business and agricultural skills to jump-start their growing operations.

“It’s [about] the vibrations of your fingers working in the soil, and then macro changes with people around you seeing what you’re doing and feeling represented,” she says.

This is an excerpt from a Globe article: Is a greener future female? Read the full story here.

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

Specialists do cleaning work to remove the oil from an oil-tainted cormorant affected by the oil spill happened when an Italian-flagged tanker, the "Mare Doricum," was unloading oil at the La Pampilla refinery, at the Parque de las Leyendas Zoo in Lima, on February 02, 2022. The spill, described as an "ecological disaster" by the Peruvian government, happened when a tanker was unloading oil at a refinery owned by Spanish company Repsol. It polluted beaches, killed wildlife and robbed fishermen of their livelihood.ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images


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