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globe climate newsletter

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

We knew this was coming.

Smoke from wildfires on the Pacific coast is choking out the sun in Vancouver; tropical storms are marching up the shores of the Atlantic; the top of the world is heating faster than ever; and, Siberia isn’t just melting – it’s on fire.

What we are witnessing is a cascade of disasters from climate change that scientists have warned about for years. Humans caused it. Humans will have to live through it. And humans can help stop it. There is still time – there is still hope.

At The Globe, we are renewing our pledge to covering the climate crisis. This story touches nearly every facet of our lives and it demands attention from all our journalists.

Please take a look at some of the reporting we put together for the climate issue in part 1 of our special issue, and read the full editor’s note here before diving in.

Now, let’s catch you up on The Globe’s climate issue:

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In this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo, flames lick above vehicles on Highway 162 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif. The blaze, part of the lightning-sparked North Complex, expanded at a critical rate of spread as winds buffeted the region.Noah Berger/The Associated Press

Noteworthy reporting:

  1. In her new book Hope Matters, Environmental scholar Elin Kelsey reminds us that while climate change remains a menace, it’s easy to miss the glimmers of good news that will mobilize us. That feeling of hopelessness, is one of the biggest threats to solving the crisis facing our planet.
  2. “With the much-anticipated green agenda outlined in the Speech from the Throne, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have recommitted to a path they promised in the prepandemic days – and have struggled to make much progress on since,” writes Adam Radwasnki. He offers some takeaways about how the Liberals might finally get down to the monumental task of implementing their climate agenda in the months ahead.
  3. When COVID-19 put the world on pause, over-tourism stopped with it. Now, as countries start to reopen and make plans for more tourism next year, there’s an opportunity for a sustainable reset. Travellers are on board, but where do we start? Some travel professionals feel that setting the bar at reducing the negative effects of tourism can no longer be the goal, but the minimum.
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A trekker with the Cartotrekking Hiking Company walks on the Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) overlooking the Amalfi coast and the Tyrrhenian Sea, southern Italy, on July 1, 2020.FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

A deeper dive

How fire and ice are changing the planet and the risks for Canada

A look at two stories that complement each other, but offer a different look at how the climate crisis is affecting our country. Written by science reporter Ivan Semeniuk and Matthew McClearn, investigative reporter and data journalist with The Globe and Mail’s Enterprise Team.

Known for its old, thick pack ice, Tuvaijuittuq means “the place where the ice never melts” in Inuktitut. That will soon be a misnomer: It is now widely accepted that the Arctic will soon be entirely ice-free during summer.

But as ice melts, it is also changing the surrounding ecosystems built around it. Even if greenhouse gases were capped immediately, researchers expect the sea ice will continue deteriorating for several decades.

We might not have sufficient time to understand these ecosystems – much less protect them – in what little time remains. Rapidly changing conditions are undermining aspects of traditional conservation.

But something has been happening as we lose more ice. This warming brings us to the things that are on fire. Things that shouldn’t be.

Long a neglected component of landscape in the Arctic and Parry Sound, Ont. alike, an abundance of peat -- a dense layers of partly decayed vegetation that accumulate in moist places, generally over centuries -- has become a concern.

When peat burns, its carbon is released, and the peat switches from being a storehouse to a source of greenhouse gas emissions. As the areas warm, it is creating a positive feedback cycle that spurs warming even further.

The Arctic was once thought of the last ecosystem unshaped by fire, that is no longer true.

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Greenpeace and local activists extinguish a peat fire in a Suzunsky forest next to the village of Shipunovo, 170 kms south from Siberian city of Novosibirsk on September 11, 2020.ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Opinion and analysis

The B.C. government’s promises to protect old-growth forests disrespect our elders

John Vaillant and Harley Rustad: “We don’t need another false deferment; we need a law from the next B.C. government to protect the fragile remnants of our irreplaceable forest heritage. Call it the Elders Act.”

What Trump got right about forest fires

Peter Kuitenbrouwer: “But renewable energy policy will not save our forests. To prevent fires, forest stewards in the U.S. and Canada must improve management. In this, Mr. Trump is right.”

The forest fires in the U.S. are a warning to us all

Claudia Cornwall: “The thick acrid smoke from Washington State that blanketed Vancouver for several days reminds me that we share the same atmosphere. What is happening down south is bad news for us.”

Photos of the week

This week, we are focusing images taken at The Royal Ontario Museum, Canada’s largest. The ROM has introduced a climate curation team to bring collections and programming that give the climate crisis the attention it deserves.

Here are some of the animals, objects and artwork the museum’s experts chose to illustrate the threats we face.

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Various exhibits from Royal Ontario MuseumMelissa Tait/The Globe and Mail; ROM handouts

What else you missed

Mi’kmaq lobster fishery in Nova Scotia ‘not a conservation concern,’ says expert: The contentious fishery started by the Sipekne’katik First Nation in St. Marys Bay isn’t likely to make a dent in the stocks of the crustacean in the area, Megan Bailey, professor at Dalhousie University’s Marine Affairs program.

Alberta to liquidate emissions reductions fund to pay deficit, new programs: The Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction fund comprises cash paid by large emitters on their greenhouse gas emissions.

Arguments that federal carbon pricing encroaches on provincial powers met with skepticism at Supreme Court: The federal government argues that the case is about more than just climate change, but about the national capacity to meet an existential threat.

Making waves

Young activists take part in world-wide protests demanding immediate climate action on Sept. 25

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Fridays for Future activists hold placards as they protest calling for a "Global Day of Climate Action" in Kyiv, Ukraine September 25, 2020.VALENTYN OGIRENKO/Reuters

Worldwide protests, organized by the Fridays For Future movement, attracted thousands of young activists calling for immediate climate action.

The worldwide student strike movement started in August 2018, when the 16-year-old Thunberg began protesting outside the Swedish parliament on school days. She has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Do you know an engaged young person? Someone who represents the real engines pursuing change in the country? Email us at to tell us about them.

Guides and Explainers

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