top of page

Global: Climate Change

(c) Jason Zheng

Climate Change Impacts:

Pacific Islands

by Theresa Ley

Climate Change and

Pathogenic Pollution

by Olivia Yang

Global Warming comes with a multitude of problems, one of which being the amplified growth and spread of water-borne pathogens. Rising water levels cause severe flooding that facilitates the dispersal of water-borne pathogens into freshwater and heavily populated areas, increasing the potential for exposure to water-borne illnesses.

Rising temperatures and water levels are leading to more frequent and severe precipitation. This poses problems as intense rainfall can feed sewage, toxins, and other chemicals into aquatic ecosystems, encouraging the growth of viral-bacteria producing algae blooms.

The increases in water temperatures have been found to be facilitating eutrophication as well as bacterial growth, as certain freshwater bacteria tend to thrive in warmer temperatures. For example, Naegleria fowleri, or, the brain-eating amoeba, prospers in warm freshwater and is often found in small bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and sometimes even swimming pools. Experts are concerned that climate change, in combination with an increasingly outdated public water infrastructure, may promote the growth of such thermophilic water-borne pathogens.

Along with these water-borne pathogens comes the contamination of seafood. With the rise of ocean surface temperatures, algal blooms have been found in expansive ranges than in prior years. With these expansions, seafood is extremely susceptible to contamination by the toxins produced by algal blooms. Increased levels of waste and sewage runoff can also contaminate species of fish, which can serve as vessels for water-borne pathogens. Viral bacteria can accumulate in seafood and can expose people to water-borne illnesses through consumption, inhalation, and even skin contact.

Groundwater wells receive minimal water treatment, rendering them vulnerable to water contamination from heavy precipitation. The consequences of minimal treatment were demonstrated in 2000 when in Walkerton, Ontario, runoff containing E. coli was displaced into a well, the central water source, by severe rainfall. The contamination of the water source caused 2,300 illnesses and seven deaths.

As climate change progresses, communities with inadequate prevention efforts are at increasingly higher risk of contracting water-borne diseases. Unsafe water conditions threaten low-income communities especially due to inadequate prevention efforts. Neighborhoods with close proximity to chemical exhaust activities are also endangered due to the elevated chance of exposure to contaminated water. The risks associated with pathogenic pollution are increasing, even more so with the aid of global warming.

The Plight of Indigenous Cultures and Climate Change

by Caroline Horrigan

Climate Policies in Canada

By Jason Zheng

In the 2010 Cancun Agreements, Canada agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, however with its current target of 17% reductions by 2020, Canada continues to stray even with a weak targeted goal. The Federal Party policies on climate change in Canada is in the hands in one of the five major political parties: Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party of Canada, Green Part of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democrat Party. The environment is now the focus of the future of Canada, which this issue has been pushed aside in federal debates—even when climate impacts become more severe every day. Nonetheless, we will examine below how each party platforms will secure the environmental future of Canada.

The Bloc Québécois party supports a federal greenhouse gas emissions limit that will aim to keep global warming below two degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels. This is the maximum level since it is already in risk for dangerous climate change. The Bloc supports Québec’s cap and trading forms. The party also states that it is capable of forming the basis for a national market.

The Conservative Party of Canada does not mention climate change. However, the party’s targeted reduction of greenhouse gas can be founding he official government policy. Canada is targeted a 17% emission reduction from 2005 to 2020 and 30% in 2030. Canada’s oil and gas sector needs to be regulated because this is preventing Canada from reaching its goal in emission reduction. The Conservative platform does not have a plan to regulate the oil and gas sector.

The Green Party of Canada has a clear plan to reduce greenhouse gas. The party plans to reduce emission of the 2005 levels by 40% in 2025; and further extending the reduction by 80% below the 1990 levels in 2050. The Greens plans to introduce a “fee and dividend” plan. The “fee” would be the consumption tax at the point of sale. The “dividend” would be the reduction in you income tax rate equivalent to the fees paid.

The Liberal Party of Canada has no targeted reduction for greenhouse gas emissions. While the platform aims to collaborate with the provinces and territories to make these targeted reductions, they also aim to work with provincial carbon-pricing policies.

The New Democrat Party have not set reductions for greenhouse gas, however the platform promises to pass the Climate Change Accountability Act when the party wins. The Act proposes a reduction target of 34% below 1990 levels by 2025 and further extending it to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The future of Canada’s environment will be in the hands of the Canadians on Election Day which will be on October 19, 2015. 

bottom of page