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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.
This week, on Sept. 30 is the National Truth and Reconciliation Day. “Put on an orange T-shirt to honour the survivors of those 139 so-called schools. Think about how Canada can bring about change. Reflect on how to bring loving homes free of mould and with clean water and full fridges to all First Nations communities that need them. Or high schools, for that matter,” writes Tanya Talaga.
When it comes to climate education and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), we also need to think about what acts of reconciliation look like. It’s a day of reflection, and to think about what steps we can take next.
Part of reconciliation in STEM education requires increasing Indigenous representation, validating oral histories and acknowledging Indigenous contributions to science. Scientific literacy and innovation are also key to addressing critical issues in many Indigenous communities such as health, the impacts of climate change, and food insecurity.
Now, let’s catch you up on other news.
Noteworthy reporting this week:
- Lockdowns are for the birds: New research shows the benefit of reduced human activity
- The sustainable family farm: How a mother-daughter team built a new life in rural Ontario
- In his new novel Bewilderment, Richard Powers turns his pen to the state of our planet with both grief and hope
- From The Narwhal: Carbon and caribou – why the Dene Tha’ are forging a plan to protect a northern Alberta lake
A deeper dive
Will Canada be ready when extreme, deadly heat returns?
Kathryn Blaze Baum is The Globe’s environment reporter. For this week’s deeper dive, she looks back at a summer of extreme heat in the country, and how Canada needs to adapt.
Firefighters ran out of life-saving oxygen. People who were dying couldn’t get through to 911; one caller was on hold for 17 minutes before reaching a dispatcher. Ambulances were severely delayed, sometimes for hours. Tenants in low-income housing smashed windows to get even a waft of fresh air. Hospital emergency rooms were stretched to their limits. The coroners service was overrun with demand.
The heat wave that hit the Pacific Northwest in June caused total mayhem in B.C., overwhelming the emergency medical system and claiming the lives of at least 569 people in the province. It is believed to be the deadliest weather event in Canadian history – a once-in-a-thousand-years event, made 150 times more likely due to human-caused climate change.
The B.C. Coroners Service is conducting a review of the province’s response to the heat wave; it’s unclear what kind of information the service will release, or when. In the meantime, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control conducted a broad statistical analysis of the deaths. The findings should give us pause, driving home the point that heat waves should not just conjure images of splash pads and sprinklers but rather chaos and funerals.
It’s not the oldest demographic that was hardest hit by the June heat wave. Death rates for people aged 65 to 74 rose by 115 per cent, while those in older categories essentially doubled. Even the death rates among those aged 19 to 50 increased by 35 per cent. More people died in the community than they did in hospitals or long-term care homes. And most community deaths were inside private residences.
Indeed, while outdoor temperatures make the headlines, indoor temperatures are immensely important. Anonymized, voluntarily provided data collected from users of ecobee smart thermostats in Abbotsford, B.C., showed that the hottest home without air conditioning was nearly 17 degrees hotter at the peak of the heat wave than the coolest home with air conditioning.
Unless we take steps now, heat will kill more and more Canadians as the Earth continues to warm. We need to rethink how our emergency services operate and how our cities and homes are built. There are steps we can take – today – to mitigate and adapt.
Read the full story to learn more about what happened this summer, and about what comes next.
What else you missed
- Quebec government faces lawsuit over its plan to ban oil and gas production
- Environment groups say all parties now firmly behind strong action on climate change
- Death of endangered orca matriarch off B.C. coast could threaten whole pod, scientists say
- In climate pledge, Xi Jinping says China will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad
Opinion and analysis
Adam Radwanski: With the federal election behind it, Canada braces for next big test as COP26 summit looms
Lenore Fahrig and Nicola Koper: Reducing traffic means more birds and happier people
Financial services powerhouses commit to net-zero push
Seventeen big-name stock exchanges, rating agencies, auditors and index providers have banded together in a group led by former central banker Mark Carney to focus their operations on achieving net-zero carbon emissions as countries prepare to meet to hammer out new commitments in the fight against climate change.
Also: Clean tech in focus as stock market awaits German election
Each week The Globe will profile a Canadian making a difference. This week we’re highlighting the work of Arlene Slocombe, who wants to fix our relationship with water.
My name is Arlene Slocombe. I am a 51-year-old settler woman residing along the banks of the Eramosa river in Dish with One Spoon Territory. I am a guest on Mississauga of the Credit Treaty lands. I come from my mother’s waters, and her mother before her and so on back to the original waters of our first mother earth. I am fully responsible to water.
I hold roles in two non-profit organizations. Water Watchers is dedicated to the protection, restoration and conservation of ground water. The Village Hearth Initiative is dedicated to supporting Nature Connection for ALL kids through immersion and mentorship through the Guelph Outdoor School.
I am committed to rebuilding our broken relationship with nature, and believe it can start most equitably through our connection with water – the source of all life. I am committed to centering Indigenous sovereignty and to working through the intersections of environmental and social justice. We must lift up Indigenous multigenerational knowledge which has been used to identify and adapt to the negative effects of climate change over vast time.
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
Catch up on Globe Climate
- Federal election will set a path toward Canada’s environmental future
- The energy transition is fuelling a revamp in schools
- The climate change election is coming
- How to save art in catastrophic climate-related events