Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, Sept. 21


Posted Sept. 13

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney





Hurricanes Harvey, Irma further proof climate change is real

Climate change is real and its getting worse with each passing year. What more proof do you need than the recent devastating storms that have hit Texas, Florida, Cuba and the leeward islands in the eastern Caribbean?

By the time this week’s paper hits your doorstep, Hurricane Irma will have done its worst in Florida. Thousands of people will be displaced and billlions of dollars in property damage will be incurred from one end of the state to the other.

But that only tells half of the story. Before it hit the Sunshine state, Irma wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, literally wiping out islands like Barbuda, where 95 per cent of the buildings have been destroyed and 65 per cent of the population is now homeless; St. Maarten; Anguilla; and the Virgin Islands.

Before it made landfall in the Keys. the eye of the storm travelled the entire length of the north shore of Cuba, battering it with 160 mph winds and 25 foot high waves.

One of the worst hit places in Cuba was the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago which includes popular tourist destinations like Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria where the boys and I spent part of our vacation just four short months ago.

Hurricane Irma is the second most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic. It was fueled by record warm waters.

Half a world away in the western Pacific, Southeast Asia has been hit with an unprecedented number of typhoons and tropical storms this year, and cyclones in the Indian Ocean have destroyed villages in Bangladesh and caused more than 200 deaths.

Climate change is also to blame for an increase in the number and intensity of wild fires in B.C., California and Australia.

The terrifying thing is that these weather events will only intensify and become more frequent as we continue to pollute the atmosphere and pussyfoot around the issue.

I know it’s hard to talk about climate change and global warming when the National Capital region has just experienced one its coldest and wettest summers in recent memory, but that too was a product of climate change.

So what can be done about it? Well for one thing, the world’s governments need to take the issue more seriously. The Paris Climate Agreement was ground-breaking in that every country in the world save Nicaragua, which held out for a more stringent agreement, and Syria, which was locked in a civil war, signed it.

The United States under climate change denier-in-chief Donald Trump, has since pulled out, however, individual states and cities remain committed to the goals of the agreement.

Unfortunately, even if every country met those goals, it would still result in a 1.5°C increase in mean global temperatures.

The level of optimism in the world’s countries being able to meet the goals set out in the Agreement is not very good. Depending on which analysis you read, global warming will likely increase by 2°C-2.5°C over the next 20 years unless more is done.

The world’s biggest polluters are motor vehicles and commercial airliners. According to FlightAware which keeps track of such things, there were an average of 9,728 commercial planes in the air at any given time during the past year. Those planes emit a witch’s brew of particles that add to the problem of global warming.

But the pollution caused by planes is nothing compared to the pollution caused by motor vehicles. The sad part is that we can stop motor vehicle carbon emissions overnight. If the world wants to get serious about combating climate change it needs to bring an end to fossil fuel powered motor vehicles sooner rather than later.

France and Britain both want to ban fossil fuel cars by 2040. Norway has an even more ambitious plan to ban fossil fuel cars by 2025. Canada has set no such target, at least not yet, but it should and it must.

The only thing preventing a world wide ban is the fossil fuel industry which would see oil sales fall dramatically. So sad, too bad.

If necessity is the mother of invention than the recent extreme weather in Texas and Florida should provide the necessary incentive to develop affordable alternative energy vehicles on a massive scale and end fossil fuel transportation sooner rather than later.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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