GEOG 254 Final

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Where is most of Earth's carbon stored?
Earth's Crust
What is the most common gaseous form of Carbon?
Carbon Dioxide
What is photosynthesis?
Conversion of Carbon Dioxide into organic compound by plants
What are Proxy Records?
They estimate the Earth's temperature for thousands of years prior to direct measurement Examples: - Tree Rings - Ice Cores - Sediment Cores - Corals Indicates there have been climate fluctuations in the past, but temperatures and the rate of change are higher than ever
How much CO2 on average dropped between January and April of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019?
The Keeling Curve
- Direct measurement of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere from the 1950s to present. - Recorded from a Hawai‘ian island - Overall increase in CO2 emissions - Annual fluctuations due to northern versus hemisphere seasons (different landmass and vegetation) - Northern spring: More CO2 absorbed - Northern fall: More CO2 released
Greenhouse Gases
They are rising faster and higher than ever before in a short amount of time, leading to socio-environmental changes.
What are Greenhouse Gases compromised of?
- Carbon Dioxide - Water Vapour - Methane - Nitrous oxide - Chlorofluorocarbons
Most common forms Greenhouse gases
Carbon Dioxide (fossil fuel and industrial processes) : 65% Methane: 16% Carbon Dioxide (Forestry and other land use): 11% Nitrous Oxide: 6% F-gases: 2%
Global Emissions by Economic Sector
Electricity and heat production: 25% Agriculture, Forestry and Other land use: 24% Industry: 21% Transportation: 14% Other energy: 10% Buildings: 6%
Global Emissions by Country
China: 30% Other 30% U.S: 15% EU-28: 9% India: 7% Russian Federation: 5% Japan: 4%
What is variability?
Magnitude of the changes that can occur
What is Risk?
Potential to create adverse consequences for human or ecological systems
What is Vulnerability?
People’s exposure and lack of protection towards environmental changes and extreme events
What is Impact?
Damage (or positive effect) resulting from an event
Climate Change Impacts
- Potential agricultural losses - Islands and coastal areas lost to sea level rise - Species extinction - Ecosystem collapse - Increase in disease incidence Impacts will be felt most strongly by those who contribute little to global greenhouse gas emissions. They are mostly vulnerable populations who are too poor to mitigate or adapt to these impacts
Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change
- Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have been trapping heat in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution - This has increased global average temperatures by 1.1°C - The additional energy stemming from the increasing temperatures is unevenly distributed causing some locations to experience extreme weather events compared to others WEATHER IS WHAT YOU GET AND CLIMATE IS WHAT YOU EXPECT!
More persistent droughts
- Less rain between heatwaves - Water supplies and ground moisture run dry more quickly - Ground heats up quicker = warming the air above = more intense heat
More Fuel for Wildfires
- Can be sparked by human activities, but also by natural events - Related to heatwaves and droughts – the longer the heat lasts, the more moisture is drawn out, making the land tinder dry - These tinder dry conditions help fuel wildfires which can spread very quickly - Can lead to another weather system –pyrocumulonimbus clouds – that produces lightning, thus igniting more fires
More Extreme Rainfall
- More heat means more evaporation - Warmer air can hold more water vapour - For each temperature degree of warming, the air’s capacity for water vapour goes up by 7%
More or Less Hailstorms
- Changes to atmospheric factors (atmospheric instability, temperature, and wind shear) - But these atmospheric factors vary across the globe due to changes in weather patterns from climate change - Future decrease in hailstorm frequency in East Asia and North America - Future increase in Europe and Australia
Stronger Typhoons/Hurricanes/Cyclones
- Warming sea surface temperatures and higher subsurface sea temperatures removes the natural buffer on typhoon strength occasioned when cold water up wells from below the ocean’s surface • Stronger typhoons carry more moisture, move faster, track differently, and will be aggravated by sea level rise
Climate Change Communication
- On the surface, climate change communication is about educating, informing, warning, persuading, mobilizing, and solving the socio-environmental problem - At a deeper level, climate change communication is shaped by our different experiences, mental and cultural models, and underlying values and worldviews
What are the four factors that contribute to how climate change communication is constructed, disseminated, and understood?
1. Scientists 2. News media 3. Politicians 4. Social media
- Initially communicated among scientists or climate specialists - Technical Language - Quantitative - Charts - Graphs
News Media
- News media began to take climate change reporting seriously in the 1990s and continues today - But there are peaks and troughs based on global climate events - Climate reports more common in developed versus developing countries
What are the three common distortions of climate coverage in news media?
1. Factual misrepresentation - Scientific to laypeople language - Journalistic timing 2. Human-Interest Narratives - Centres primarily on controversy, timeliness of events, and celebrities 3. Alarmism - Use of doom-and-gloom narratives
- As representations of climate change throughout the news media gradually captured public interest, politicians introduced various agreements and policies – some non-binding in scope – to govern how it was to be framed and communicated to the general public - Climate change communication moves from technical (scientific) to narrative (media) to political (politician)
Social Media
- While news media is a one-way communication tool to distribute climate change information, social media provides a way for the public to interact with climate change issues - Used by every citizen, but most popular among youth movements
Three important domains of climate change communication in Social Media
1. Information 2. Discussion 3. Mobilization
Climate Change and Representation
While climate change impacts are felt by everyone, everywhere, media portrayals – both news and social – have been largely biased towards a particular perspective
Greta Thunberg and School Strike for Climate
- Born in 2003 to famous acting and singing parents - Began her climate crusade in 2018 by protesting for stronger action on climate change outside of the Swedish parliament at the age of 15 - Widely recognized as the face of youth movement on climate action and the “Greta Effect” - Received various accolades and nominations for her work on climate activism - Invited speaker to various climate conferences worldwide
The Four Climate Crusaders
1. Autumn Pelletier – Canada - Water Access 2. Francisco Vera – Colombia - Conservation and biodiversity 3. Licypriya Kangujam – India - Clean air 4. Vanessa Nakate – Uganda - Conservation and rainforests
Climate Change Governance
Tackle climate change through a global agreement on curbing CO2 emissions
Curbing CO2 Emissions Around the World
- All countries would benefit from a reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions - Assuming that cuts in emissions would put someone at an economic disadvantage, only those who make reductions will pay the economic costs
Controlling Carbon
- Impacts stemming from CO2 emissions are not necessarily felt equally around the world - CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions do not stay in place - Emissions come from a set of locations, but the impacts are shared (unevenly) by all - The benefits of carbon emission reductions are also unevenly distributed
Reducing Emissions
- Developed countries - Emit most of the CO2 in the atmosphere in order to develop - Emit more CO2 per capita than less developed countries - Developing countries - Emit less CO2 per capita, but have higher population growth - If they eventually emit as much per capita as developed countries, they will have higher total emissions as well
1997 Kyoto Protocol
- Kyoto clause: “Common but differentiated responsibility” - The parties agreed that 1. the largest share of historical and current global greenhouse gas emissions originated in developed countries 2. per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low 3. the share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet social and development needs
List of Parties in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol
- Annex I: Strongest 37 economies PLUS 13 economies in transition - Annex II: Strongest 37 economies - Annex B Countries: Annex I EXCEPT Turkey and Belarus - Non-Annex I Countries: Developing countries - Grouping of countries according to economic status - Different levels of emission-reducing expectations
1997 Kyoto Protocol Goals: Carbon Emission Commitments
Annex I countries agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by ~5.2% from 1990 levels (on top of the CFC reductions from the Montreal Protocol)
Climate Change and the United States (1990s-2015)
- Kyoto signed by US President Bill Clinton in 1998, original commitment target 6% reduction - US President George W. Bush in 2000 withdrew from the Kyoto commitment - US withdrawal puts Kyoto global agreement in jeopardy - In order for the Protocol to enter into legal effect, it was required that the Protocol was ratified by 55 Parties including 55% of 1990 Annex I emissions - US represented 36% of emissions in 1990 - Without US ratification, only an EU+Russia+Japan+small party coalition could get the treaty into legal effect. - Bonn climate talks in 2001: Russia and others signed - By 2015, 190+ countries had signed Kyoto and finished ratifications - USA was the only one not intending to ratify Kyoto - US carbon emissions increased ~ 16% since 1990
2015 Paris Climate Agreement
- Paris is a REMARKABLE milestone because - First climate change agreement that is legally-binding AND universal (global) - 195 countries signed; supported also by the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas (USA and China) - Agreement became legally binding when 55 parties who produce more than 55% of global carbon emissions ratified it - No legal enforceability, only global social (political) pressure to meet these signed commitments - Paris Agreement came into force on 4 November 2016
What was the deal of the Paris Agreement?
- Developed and developing countries: Both are bound to reduce their emissions on different national levels (‘INDCs’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) - Carbon emissions and carbon sinks: Not only fossil fuels and developed countries in focus, but also (rain)forests and conservation in the Global South
2022 Congress Of Parties (COP27)
LOSS AND DAMAGE FUND - Pooled funds for countries most affected by climate change - Most important climate governance advance since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement
What is Sustainability?
• The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level • The ability to maintain or support a process continuously over time Used interchangeably with “sustainable development” Definition by UNESCO: “Sustainability is often thought of as a long-term goal (i.e., a more sustainable world), while sustainable development refers to the many processes and pathways to achieve it"
Three Dimensions of Sustainability (The Three “E’s”)
1. Environmental - Linked closely with the human impacts on and concerns over the environment - Replacement rate 2. Economic - Practices that support long-term economic growth without adversely impacting the social and environmental aspects of the community 3. Equity - Elusive in meaning but comes to mean the fairness in all aspects of society (e.g., social, economic, political, etc.)
Equity versus Equality
1. Equality - Give the same amount of resources to a group or individuals to achieve an outcome • Equity - Recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates specific resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
1987 Brundtland Commission
- 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) meeting became coined after the person who chaired the meeting: Norwegian politician Gro Harlem Brundtland - Introduced the most frequently cited (and popularized) understanding of sustainable development from a conservation lens: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Intergenerational Equity
Development must not benefit present generations at the expense of future generations Necessary Conditions for Sustainability
Intragenerational Equity
Development must have benefits which are equitably shared among members of the current generation Necessary Conditions for Development
1992 Rio Earth Summit
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 3-14 June 1992 - Agenda 21 - Kickstarted the global action plan for sustainable development - Not legally-binding in scope - Aim: To achieve global sustainable development by 2000 - 21 refers to the original target of the 21st century - Rio Declaration - 27 principles intended to guide countries in future sustainable development - Over 170 countries signed the declaration
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Opened for signatories on 4 June 1992 - Entered into force on 21 March 1994 - 197 countries ratified the framework - Aim: Stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a timeframe which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development
United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- Opened for signatories on 5 June 1992 - Entered into force on 29 December 1993 - 196 countries ratified the convention; United States the only country in the world not to ratify - Aims: Conserve biological diversity; Sustainable use of components from the natural environment; Equitable sharing of benefits arising from plants, animals, etc.
UN Millennium Development Project
- Launched through 2000 Millennium Summit - 2002: Millennium Project commissioned by UN Secretary-General to develop a concrete action plan - The resolution was to adopt a new ethic of conservation and stewardship where every effort must be made to counter the damage of human activities that threaten the planet - Ended in 2015
What are the Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- Eradicate Poverty - Achieve universal Education - Gender Equality - Reduce Child Mortality - Improve Maternal health - Combat Diseases - Ensure Environmental sustainability - Global development partnerships
UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Succeeded the UNMDGs in 2015 -17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - On top of the eight original MDGs, nine were added to encompass a broader scope such as clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; industry, innovation, and infrastructure; climate action; life below water; life on land; etc.
Climate Change Impacts In Canada
- Fort McMurray Wildfires: 2016, Loss: 5.3B - Alberta and Greater Toronto Area Flood: 2013, Loss: 3.4B - Fort McMurray Flooding and Calgary Hailstorm: 2020, Loss: 2.4B - Slave Lake Fire and Windstorm: 2011, Loss: 1.7B - Calgary Hailstorm: 2012, Loss: 1.5B