Georgian Bay is warming, our local food web is collapsing, and invasive species are on the rise. With each passing decade, we make the ecosystems upon which we depend more vulnerable. Isn’t it time we stopped putting so much carbon dioxide into our own atmosphere?
The most powerful computers on earth show that warmer winters in Parry Sound are occurring, affecting species migration, ice travel and safety, winter tourism and recreation. Fewer very cold days can also result in a lack of natural control for certain pests and diseases, resulting in more Lyme disease and West Nile virus.
Very hot days (above 30°C) are dramatically increasing in Parry Sound. We can expect droughts, groundwater shortages, crop failure and increased food costs. Forests are vulnerable to pest outbreaks and fires. More frequent and severe weather events like storms and floods are expected, according to the Canadian Climate Atlas.
We can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, especially if governments implement good policies and market incentives. Renewable energy is a growing sector that reduces vulnerability to fuel prices. Putting a tax on carbon can work, generating billions of dollars. Cap-and-trade systems are becoming more efficient and reliable on world markets.
Communities across Canada are taking climate change action. Locally, our Town gets about 30% of its power from hydroelectric and has proposed generating an additional 60% of its power from a major solar project. If successful, their efforts could exceed international targets 40% emissions reduction by 2030.
There are many ways we can each reduce our carbon footprint, saving energy and money, and reducing impacts on future generations:
- Be energy efficient at home and work. Update old appliances and set your water heater on a timer; seal and insulate your building.
- Choose green power. Switch your energy source to renewable energy, if possible. Speak with local experts about the options.
- Use less hot water. Take shorter showers. Use the dishwasher and washing machine only when you have full loads; wash clothes in cold water.
- Transportation options. Avoid air travel. Walk, cycle, carpool or take public transit when you can. Purchase a smaller, fuel-efficient or hybrid/electric vehicle.
- Eat locally. Buy locally grown food, as it does not have to travel as far. Eat less meat (as crops for livestock take a lot of energy to grow and process).
- Reduce your waste. Buy less, simplify. Avoid single-use products and over-packaging. Reuse things before recycling. Repair items whenever you can. Compost kitchen scraps for garden soil. Garbage buried in landfills produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
- Get involved and informed. Talk about climate change with others, share your personal actions to influence others, and voice your concerns to those in power.
To learn more about State of the Bay ecosystem health reporting, please visit: stateofthebay.ca
David Bywater is the State of the Bay Project Manager for the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, a not-for-profit dedicated to environmental and community well-being. He can be reached at [email protected].
[partner-profile name=”Muskoka Watershed Council” title=””]
The Muskoka Watershed Council created a unique report using the best available science to help predict the future climate of the Muskoka region. It examines the likely impacts of a mid-century climate on our lakes and waterways, forests, community infrastructure and way of life. These include precipitation and drought patterns, record-high summer temperatures, extreme weather events, water quality and stormwater management and other infrastructure-related issues. The report calls for prompt action by provincial agencies, district and municipal governments, local businesses, community groups and individual citizens.
While there will be a number of negative impacts on our environment and in our lives, we have sufficient scientific understanding of the causes and processes involved, plus the necessary skills to plan for, and implement, adaptive responses that will help us minimize and manage these impacts. With community-wide commitment to planning and timely action, we should be able to adapt effectively. Climate change is here, and we must act to manage the impacts responsibly.
Go to muskokawatershed.org to learn more.