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Current situation and future concerns towards Climate Change

By oncexuan Nov 29, 2014 1742 Words
Title:Current situation and future concerns towards Climate Change Student Name: Xin Zhang
Student Number: 999620771
Course: ENV221 HF
Instructor: Karen Ing
TA: Jennifer Sawyer
Climate change has never been a simple issue to cope with for human beings not only because it has a large impact on human society but also affects our mother planet earth. Rising average temperature has already caused extreme weather events in some regions. Along with the extreme weathers, natural disasters such as flooding, droughts, and extreme heat may become the consequences. Seasons are shifting, plenty of living species are heading extinction, sea levels are rising, ecosystem is losing its balance, prominent reduction in snow and ice, the series of events mentioned above could also resulted from increasing heat in the atmosphere. Climate change also challenges our political system. Policy makers make decisions based on political interests more than working on a comprehensive and corporate goal of taking control of the issue (Giddens.,2008). Politicians are not scientists, they do not focus on the scientific understanding behind the issues. What they see is mostly that climate change has led to major changes in industries and economics which are unprofitable for corporations. In a political way of looking at climate change, it becomes a measurement of money. The responses towards the international framework on climate change tend to be economic concerns rather than putting emphasis in the environmental aspect. There is not much that politicians have done about climate change other than making relevant regulations which are not always efficient when it comes to the actual combat. Global warming is not about politics, it is about people. Policy makers are supposed to come up with solutions of climate change by making valid policies concerning more about the environment itself rather than making profits. Climate change has become a mainstream moral problem, a call for action is imperative. Garvey (2008) believes thar scientific evidence is crucial to climate change, however, science only tells us what is going on instead of what to do, it only provides theoretical support not substantive actions, on the other hand, a study of morality philosophy tells people distinguish wrongness from rightness, what we values can actually lead to the solutions to the problem. One of the most severe outcome of climate change is that it could cause water shortage around the world. Rising sea levels lead to the saltwater intrusion of the groundwater drinking supplies and the reductions of glaciers also threatens freshwater resources of millions of people. Higher temperatures would cause higher irrigation water demand. Water is intimately associated with human and social problems like food security, industry operations, as well as keeping the balance of ecosystem. Climate change also threatens our heath, especially to children and the vulnerable as the increasing amount of waterborne diseases and freshwater shortage have emerged. Climate change have become a global issues for the past few decades as the rise of public interests and media promotion of the issue. In addition, a great deal of countries have gathered together and set up a few global-scale organizations seeking for a solution for the problem by implementing regulations, such as the establishment of IPCC, Kyoto protocol, as well as Copenhagen Approach (Ing.,2014). However, international negotiation does not work effectively all the time. Take Kyoto Protocol (Macdonald., 2011) as an example, even though has come to comprehensive approach towards climate change and global emissions trading, shortages are inherently exited in the process of mitigating climate change. Narrowing the govern scale may enhance the effectiveness. More and more countries set off making national regulations and policies on climate change. Even though there is hardly any substantive framework for policy which lacks of consensus and consistency (IPCC.,2013). Canadian government has been working on long-term policies and regulations aiming at climate change, however, it went not so well. Harper's government (Macdonald., 2011) now is facing three main challenges towards the governance of climate change. First, contradicting policy initiatives have caused conflicts within the government. Secondly, different economic interests among provinces also brings obstacles in implementing policies. Climate change policy may bring benefits to those coastal provinces as they can export hydro-electricity, and on the other hand, it may become a threat to some provinces as it highers the costs per capita. Moreover, Canadian government believes that it has to follow US government's policy despite that there is no Canada-US or any federal-provincial institutions for coordination. Based on the study conducted by IPCC (Giddens.,2008), the human influence on climate change is evident through high amount of green house gas emissions and positive radiative forcing. A group of leading scientist has come to a conclusion of a 2° Celsius target which aims to limit the increase of the global temperature by 2° Celsius (McKibben.,2012). They also put forward that human beings should unleash no more than 565 gigatons of carbons into the atmosphere by 2050 to ensure the the temperature rise within 2 degrees (McKibben.,2012). The third number those scientists point out is 2795 Gigatons which is the amount of fossil fuel reserves that corporations hold in hand (McKibben., 2012). According to McKibben (2012), this is five times our allowance if we are trying to prevent the temperature from rising over 2° Celsius, which means that, if we keep the temperature down, we will not be able to let most of the fossil fuel be burned. These three numbers tells us a terrifying fact that it has already been a bit too late to know what is actually going on with the Earth. The ultimate victim is us, human beings. Everything frozen on the Earth started to melt. It is the time to stop here and find a way to walk through the numbers together. The bottom line is at least stay below the 2° Celsius. Making climate change policy is not always an easy job. Policy making in Canada has encountered bottlenecks while implementing the policies, especially when it comes to discuss the relationship between economic growth and the protection of environment (Robert&Worberts.,2012). The making of climate change policy advances economic growth, or inversely, it will lead to a decline? Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol (Macdonald., 2011) and set new target and policy about climate change mainly hammers at reducing green house gas emissions. On one hand, the implement of reduction on GHGs will result in a better environment and for the sake of a better Earth as well. On the other hand, most environment protection costs money and people have limited willingness to pay, which causes a dilemma between formulating the policies and actually implementing it on a daily basis (Ing.,2014). We are facing the problem that should we protect for moral reasons alone and not need economic concerns, which is under the ideal circumstances, however, our government does not work that way. Economic development has alway been a prior concern for a country (Macdonald.,2011). We have to do it based on the rules of the state. The ultimate goal of government is to reduce emissions when the benefits are greater than the costs. The valid efficient action we need at this moment is a positive action that makes sure the political benefits and does not hurt economic interests either. Even though the majority of regions as well as cities in Canada and US have taken actions to reduce green house gas emissions, while only a few of them looks at the non-emission-related drivers of warming (Stone,Vargo,&Habeeb.,2012). The international framework of climate change policy has influenced the heat management on local scales at certain extent. The common goal that both municipal and state governments adopt is confined to control the GHGs emissions and reduce carbon release (Stone,Vargo,&Habeeb., 2012). The costs of reducing green house gas emissions are not very cheap, even though the governments tended to keep it economically rational. However, imperative actions are needed to reduce the emissions while keeping the economy strong. There are many cost-effective methods to achieve effective emission reduction are already at hand (Michael D. Meyer,P.E.,M.ASCE;&Brent Weigel., 2011). Transportation is responsible for the cause of greenhouse gas emissions in a large extent. It is urgent to limit the use of vehicles that uses fossil fuels. Using renewable fuels would help reduce the production of greenhouse gas. When choosing public vehicles, public buses that are fueled by compressed natural gas would be a better option. It is also helpful to improve the fuel efficiency by developing advanced vehicles such as hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles (Michael D. Meyer,P.E.,M.ASCE;&Brent Weigel., 2011). The growing number of cars has been a hidden peril, the reduction of the need of driving should be taken into account as well. Lower the speed when driving is also helpful to reduce fuel consumption. Using green travel measure is becoming a trend in daily life, biking and rail should be considered as alternative traveling measures to lower the emission as they are more fuel efficient. Climate change is threatening all the living creatures on the Earth as it has huge impacts on the ecosystem, politics, and economies. Vulnerability on climate change still exists and varies in different regions. To remit the harm that climate change may bring to us, immediate and long term actions should be taken so that the situation will soon change. We can not wait for any longer since it is affecting us and will affect our future generations.

Garvey, J. (2008). The ethics of climate change: Right and wrong in a warming world. London: Continuum. Gibbens, A. (2008). The politics of Climate Change National responses to the challenge of global warming. Policy Network, 2(4), 3-19. Ing,K. (2014, October). Climate Change Policy. ENV221HF: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment. Class lecture conducted from The University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Macdonald, D. (2011). Harper energy and climate-change policy:Failing to address the key challenges. How Ottawa Spends, 2011-2012, 127-143. McKibben, Bill. July 19, 2012. Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math. Rolling Stone. Meyer, M., & Weigel, B. (2011). Climate Change and Transportation Engineering: Preparing for a Sustainable Future. Journal of Transportation Engineering, 137(6), 393-393. Roach, Robert & Barry Worberts. 2012. Keeping Pace: Improving Environmental Decision-Making in Canada. Canada West Foundation. 36. Stone, B., Vargo, J., & Habeeb, D. (2012). Managing climate change in cities: Will climate action plans work? Landscape and Urban Planning, 263-271.

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