Extreme weather events are regularly occurring locally and globally. Provincially, 100 communities are disaster areas with at least $100 million in damages due to flooding and extreme weather.
Northern Saskatchewan has had the opposite extreme, with 1,285,000 hectares of forest burned so far in 2010. The 10-year average is 361,000 hectares. Our provincial politicians seem not able to even mention climate change caused by greenhouse gases. A wake up call is needed.
Globally, extreme weather events are becoming the norm. Russia is having its worst drought ever recorded, with huge forest fires. Asia is beset with major flooding. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months and the warmest April, May and June on record.
Nine nations have set their all time temperature records this year: Russia 111 degrees, Sudan 121 degrees, Saudi Arabia and Iraq 126 degrees and Pakistan just under 130 degrees. The increased global temperatures cause more humidity, with the atmosphere about five per cent more moist than it was 40 years ago.
All this ever-increasing carbon dioxide we produce is causing other problems. It is causing the oceans to be more acidic, as well as warmer. Phytoplankton in the oceans has declined about 40 per cent since 1950 and continues to decline at about one per cent a year. So what? Some may ask. Phytoplankton produces about half of the oxygen - kind of handy for our breathing and ultimately supports all of our fisheries. They account for about half of the organic matter on earth. They are important to our survival. That's what.
A recent National Academy of Sciences report should be a wake up call - I hope. It states that emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of earth's climate. Because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock the earth and future generations into a range of impacts, some of which can be very severe. Therefore, emission reduction choices made today matter in determining impacts experienced not just over the next few decades, but in the coming centuries and millennia. Depending on emission rates, carbon dioxide concentrations could double or nearly triple from today's level by the end of the century, greatly amplifying future human impacts on climate.
Many people know we can and must reduce our emissions now. Others have been made skeptical by the well-funded deniers campaigns. Not enough is happening. Why is this?
If only carbon dioxide was not a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas - it is out of sight, smell and taste - no problem. This accounts for our mythology of the clear, blue, unpolluted prairie skies - no problem here, right?
Wrong, we are one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emitters anywhere. Add in the human ego and the belief we can find a technological fix for anything if we really have to. Many of us live in an urban environment, surrounded by manmade objects and the work, consume lifestyle. We lose our connection with how the earth operates. Add in the fear of "losing our way of life - our economy would be ruined."
The fact is our economy will take a severe blow if we do nothing to reduce emissions. The solutions are there to make a transition to truly sustainable society - just waiting for the personal and political will. We can also live healthier, happier and more securely.
We can reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by putting some thought into our actions. We can educate ourselves. We can join groups that are pushing for positive change. The website www.350.org is a global effort that has local contacts. Thousands of people are needed at rallies to pressure governments, join in - the whole family.
The ultimate question is will humans be smart enough to save themselves or will greed and apathy prevail?
Let's get a few more miles out of the human race.