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Lecture

ENVS 1000 Lecture Notes - Svante Arrhenius, Kyoto Protocol, Core Sample


Department
Environmental Studies
Course Code
ENVS 1000
Professor
Peter Timmerman

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CLIMATE CHANGE
Svante Arrhenius 1898 sketched out hypothetical about doubling of CO2. If
that happened, then the temperature of the planet will rise about 2 degrees
centigrade.
GHG effect occurs all the time- solar radiation comes in and much of it
bounces off. Some is absorbed by the Earth. Some of that becomes infrared
heat.
Human intervention is changing the atmospheric carbon net increase every
year.
Glaciers are retreating, other than the few outliers. Sea ice is shrinking,
creating more dark space. The more dark space, the more heat absorption.
There is a lot of permafrost in Canada, especially in the north. The melting
would create methane and GHGs into the air.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)- mixture of science and
other analysis about climate change, forming reports and reporting to the
United Nations
Ways to monitor issues- city vs. countryside, satellite vs. ground testing and
how variable is the climate?
One solution: ice core drilling- get pure space and drill down the ice as far
back as many thousands of years. This is a direct examination of the past,
you can tell by the core sample. You can also look at the chemical
composition.
When CO2 presses climate, it can go into highs and lows (temperature
change) very abruptly (peaks and valleys seen in graphs from Vostok ice
core sample).
Kyoto Protocol set targets for GHG emissions, which many countries did not
meet. Those who did only did so because their economies collapsed.
Canada’s situation
In 1997, agreed to 6% below 1990 levels because Jean Chrétien said Canada
can do better than America’s 5%. By 2004, Canada was 34.6% above Kyoto
target and has gone up ever since.
GHG emissions largely come from transportation. Alberta’s oil sands are
“crucial” to Canada’s economy.
Mostly in Ontario, transportation industry is emitting a lot of GHG.
Weather-related disasters are increasing in Canada. The theory is that we
will have more and more extreme weather because the pressure cells (high
and low) will get stuck. We might get more drought or snow. Wherever the
weather system is going to be, it will stick. There may be more snow for a
while because of the water vapour in the atmosphere. May affect water
supplies, food production and so on. E.g. malaria may move north as weather
warms.
Case Study: Polar Bears
Northern populations live on pack ice (which is melting). Southern
populations go back and forth.
To survive the fasting season (summer), what is going to happen to the
seals, since they feed on seals? We may have to emergency feed them.
Hundreds are killed each year for hunting. Oil spills disrupt their habitats.
Persistent organic pollutants, like PCBs and DDTs, poison them. A lot of ice is
being lost, which threatens their survival.