Ontario's Climate Change

The elements that effect our environment

What Its All About

  • The earth's climate change does not just consist of just human factors but also natural factors
  • The change in climate affects living things and natural systems in a variety of ways
  • Earths climate changes. it is the result of systems and processes interacting
  • people can chose whether or not they do the right thing when it comes to the impact on the climate

Evidence of Climate Change

Rising temperatures: Scientists use records to calculate Earth's average temperature each year. this report can show results for more than 100 years in the past. These records also show long term-trends. For example, Canada's average national temperatures have increased by 1°C in the last 55 years.

Melting Glaciers, Ice Sheets, and Sea Ice: It has been proven that average sized glaciers all over the world had began to melt and decrease in size due to the rising temperature of the world. The water from these melting glaciers are running through rivers and lakes to the ocean. this provides us with water. However, if these glaciers continue to melt, then there will soon be serious water shortages since many nations depend on these glaciers. Ice sheets that cover the expanses of the Greenland and Antarctica are also melting. If these ice sheets continue to melt then land masses close to the glaciers will begin to flood. Finally, arctic sea ice is also melting. In 2007 a large piece of sea ice the size of Ontario had completely disappeared. scientist estimate that the artic could be entirely ice free in the near future.

Changing seasons: The seasons in Canada and all around the world are slowly changing, from when it snows to how much it snows. The winters in the northern hemisphere are gradually decreasing. world wide the frequency of cold days has been decreasing. Winters are coming later in the year and ending in earl spring. as a result of these counters world wide are experiencing longer seasons

Changes in Ecosystems: Many plants and animals worldwide are being affected by climate change. These plants and animals are slowly migrating to towards the poles and to higher altitudes in order to escape the warmer regions. However, this also means that undesirable plants and insects are also migrating up north (Canada).

Potential Health Threats

Impacts to health due to climate change will likely be different depending on different populations within the province. The part of the population that will be most vulnerable to these health impacts will be the elderly, the poor, children, and people in poor health.

Climate change affects the fundamental requirements for health: clean air, safe drinking water, proper amount of food, and secure shelter. Disease-carrying organisms may increase in population when the average temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change. For example, Lyme disease, which is carried by animal such as deer ticks can cause fever and skin rash. As well as the risk of the West Nile virus which is in Ontario already will continue to increase.

Illnesses: With the increasing temperatures, the worsening of heat waves are more likely to cause more heat-related illnesses and deaths. For example, heat stress often sends people to the hospital and can cause strokes. Another example could be when car exhausts create ground smog due to warm temperatures. This smog would especially affect people with asthma or other respiratory issues.

Climate Changes Impact on Water

When temperatures increase, there is an increased evaporation from lake surfaces and evaporation from the ground surfaces. This affects the amount of precipitation that falls throughout the year. This factor will have an impact on the water's quantity and quality in Ontario.

Frequent and heavy downpours may cause localize flooding, which will affect sewage treatments due to large amounts of storm water. The flooded sewer systems then causes untreated sewage to be put into our lakes and streams etc. This is more dangerous in shallow bodies of water due to higher concentration. Another way the quality of water could be affected is with the "migration" of microbial and algal blooms due to warmer lake waters.

Impacts on Agriculture

In Ontario the province contains 14 million acres of farmland valued at approximately $10 billion dollars. This shows that Ontario relies on agriculture quite a bit. Since agriculture is highly weather-dependent, climate change is one of the highest concerns for the industry. With the warming of the climate it could be beneficial for the production of only a small amount of crops such as corn and could lead to the expansion of other crops. It could also effect the growing seasons of some crops. For example, the growing season for apples ,which is in September, could extend or decrease a month or more.

However, climate change could affect the health of some crops in the region. This increase of temperature can harm by heat stress, pests, ozone, extreme weather such as rains that delay the harvest of plants, and below-normal precipitation. These types of events can occur in the future and threaten the agricultural industry.

Impact on Forests

Climate change impacts forests quite significantly. For example, previously in the Arctic Tundra, only low-growing flowering plants, mosses, and lichens would grow there, due to the cold and short growing season. Now forests of spruce trees have grown there. Due to the climate change, summer is getting longer in the area, allowing for more trees to grow.

Climate change also causes the inhabitants of forests to leave, due to unsuitable habitats. For example the mountain pine beetle that has destroyed forests, has begun expanding farther north and higher into the mountains due to climate change. Studies have also shown that rain in Ontario could occur shorter, but in heavier bursts, with long dry spells in between due to the climate change. This is expected to cause Summers to be hotter and drier, making forest fires a more common thing, which means more Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. Southern plants could also begin surviving warming Winters, leading to an increase in numbers.

The ideal climate for forests is expected to change, so the forests of Ontario may begin shifting northward, as well as the forests of Ontario becoming carbon sources, instead of carbon sinks, leading to more climate change. Pests like the mountain pine beetle are able to live in more forests, due to the warmer climates in the area, making some forests into carbon sources, all by itself.

Impact on our Natural Heritage

Climate change also affects the natural heritage of Ontario. Climate change causes wildlife to leave their original habitat like meadows and forests, to find more suitable habitats for their needs. This causes new wildlife to take their place, possibly leaving the ecosystem unbalanced.

Climate change also warms the water temperature, causing the productivity of certain fish to increase or decrease, depending on what kind of fish they are. For example, some experts expect that the productivity of cool water fish like the walleye in Lake Michigan will increase from 29 to 33%. Cold-water fish like lake trout will most likely decrease in productivity from 8 to 6%, and warm-water fish are expected to flourish with the warmer temperatures. However experts expect that generally the fish of the great lakes will suffer overall from the climate change.

Climate change also causes birds to migrate from their original habitats, much like the wildlife of the meadows and forested areas, due to the warmer and drier climate.

Evaluation of Where Ontario Stands

The Government of Ontario has realized that climate change is a looming problem, and have taken action to reduce it, introducing plans like the "Go Green" to reduce green house gases production from Ontario. Through plans like this, Ontario has reduced greenhouse gas production. However, it is still much higher than what it was in the past. For example between 2004-2006, Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions decreased in most sectors of the economy, but overall they were still 7% higher than in 1990.

Ontario has taken the stand to actively try and reduce greenhouse gas production, and although it will be gradual, greenhouse gas production in Ontario will reduce greatly.

Ways People Can Help Reduce Climate Change

If the climate keeps changing at the rate it is now we as individuals and a community that have to do with everyday life, because even if it's small, it still helps. Things like;

  • Driving less and walking or biking instead when possible. If you need to use a car, buy a fuel-efficient car to reduce pollution from it.
  • Turn off appliances in your home when they're not being used, like when no one is watching T.V. Turn it off, and turn off lights that aren't needed.
  • Only use the heaters and air conditioning when necessary. If possible in the winter, just bundle up inside to reduce the energy used, and in the summer open some windows.

Little things like this can reduce the energy used by individuals, even if they seem insignificant.

Businesses, Industries, and Governments can do many things like;

  • Use clean energy sources like win and solar, use more efficient equipment to consume less energy
  • Introduce rebates or tax incentives for insulating and energy efficiency
  • Study and implement ways to reduce methane emissions in rice and cattle farming
  • Reduce the volume of waste generated, and reduce deforestation.

Together as a community, and even by ourselves as individuals, we can possibly stop climate change, or at least reduce how much the impact of climate change is.

A real-time example is shown in the article below.