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Hard Choices

Climate Change in Canada

Harold Coward

Publication Year: 2004

Drought, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, ice storms, blackouts, dwindling fish stocks...what Canadian has not experienced one of these or more, or heard about the “greenhouse” effect, and not wondered what is happening to our climate? Yet most of us have a poor understanding of this extremely important issue, and need better, reliable scientific information. Hard Choices: Climate Change in Canada delivers some hard facts to help us make some of those hard choices.

This new collection of essays by leading Canadian scientists, engineers, social scientists, and humanists offers an overview and assessment of climate change and its impacts on Canada from physical, social, technological, economic, political, and ethical / religious perspectives. Interpreting and summarizing the large and complex literatures from each of these disciplines, the book offers a multidisciplinary approach to the challenges we face in Canada. Special attention is given to Canada’s response to the Kyoto Protocol, as well as an assessment of the overall adequacy of Kyoto as a response to the global challenge of climate change.

Hard Choices fills a gap in available books which provide readers with reliable information on climate change and its impacts that are specific to Canada. While written for the general reader, it is also well suited for use as an undergraduate text in environmental studies courses.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The aim of this book is to provide Canadians with an assessment of the implications of climate change for Canada. Leading Canadian scientists, engineers, social scientists, and humanists offer an overview and assessment of climate change and its impacts on Canada from physical, social, technological, economic, ...

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1 Introduction

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pp. 1-10

Weather. When I was a kid on the farm in Alberta, everything depended on it: what you put on in the morning and what you ate for breakfast; what you did at any given hour of the day and whom you did it with; my grandfather's, my mother's, and my own mood. And we talked about it constantly ...

Part I: What's [Going to] Happen[ing]?

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2 The Science of Climate Change

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pp. 13-44

In January 2001, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report stating that there is now new and stronger evidence that most of the climate warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. This powerful statement by the world's leading climate ...

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3 The Human Challenges of Climate Change

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pp. 45-72

The rapidly changing climate detailed by Andrew Weaver in the previous chapter has been the result of a broader human transformation of the natural environment. The human causes of this transformation are varied and have as much to do with institutional and cultural norms and practices as with economic ...

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4 Impacts of Climate Change in Canada

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pp. 73-88

As global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to soar, the world's climate is changing ever more rapidly. Canada, being at northern latitudes where changes are expected to be greatest, has begun to feel adverse effects. Table 4.1 gives information about the changes affecting Canada to the end of 2000 and ...

Part II: What Can We Do?

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5 Terrestial Carbon Sinks and Climate Change Mitigation

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pp. 91-108

This chapter addresses the role that terrestrial vegetation, particularly trees, might play in mitigating the effects of climate change. We specifically focus on the question of whether forests and agricultural land can be managed or manipulated to maximize carbon (C) uptake and so offset anthropogenic emissions ...

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6 Technology and Climate Change

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pp. 109-130

According to the IPCC there is now persuasive evidence that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are contributing to global climate change. The major fraction of these emissions is generated by the fossil-fueled energy conversion technologies employed by industrial societies since the onset of the ...

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7 Economic Aspects of Climate Change

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pp. 131-150

As discussed in chapters 2 and 3, climate change is a long-term threat to the earth's ecosystems and to the way people lead their lives. Climate change constitutes a threat to agriculture, particularly subsistence farming in developing countries, and to coastal dwellers who could lose their homes as ...

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8 Regional Adaptation Strategies

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pp. 151-178

During 2001, a bark beetle outbreak in British Columbia continued because of extensive fire controls and four years of warm winters, killing lodgepole pine trees in an 8 million hectare area (Reuters, 2001; Morton, 2002). Toronto declared a heat emergency on August 7, while Ontario's daily electricity ...

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9 Legal Constraints and Opportunities: Climate Change and the Law

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pp. 179-198

Climate change law now consists almost exclusively of international law. To this point in Canada, little has been done at the national level either to implement international law obligations or to create additional legal rights and obligations to address climate change. Of course, for a federal country like ...

Part III: Hard Choices

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10 A Canadian Policy Chronicle

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pp. 201-214

Climate change is often called a "science-driven" issue. Indeed, it was the scientific community that ensured its consideration globally and nationally, but the issue has now moved well beyond climate science. As noted in chapter 1, scientists in the nineteenth century, such as Fourier in France and Arrhenius in Sweden, ...

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11 Beyond Kyoto?

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pp. 215-232

Climate change is one of the most important and vexing global challenges facing the world. Increasing numbers of people in Canada and around the world believe it is essential to find ways to control the buildup of greenhouse gases (GHGS) in the atmosphere. However, increasing economic competition means that ...

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12 What Can Individuals Do?

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pp. 233-252

Among the world's developed countries, Canada has the highest levels of consumption per capita, and it will have difficulty meeting its Kyoto Protocol target. As Weaver points out in chapter 2, lifestyle changes are needed if Canada and the world are to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and thus allow the ...

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13 Concluding Remarks

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pp. 253-256

Canadians are obsessed with weather, its variability, and its effect on everything we do. We are also greatly concerned with our climate, although the difference between weather and climate is often not well understood. By definition, climate is the statistics of weather including, for example, its mean and variance. ...

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About the Authors

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pp. 257-264

Brad Bass has been a member of Environment Canada's Adaptation and Impacts Research Group (air) since 1994. His research interests broadly include complexity, using ecological technologies to adapt to climate change and the impacts of climate change on the energy sector. More specifically, he is developing ...


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pp. 265-273

E-ISBN-13: 9781554580811
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889204423
Print-ISBN-10: 088920442X

Page Count: 282
Publication Year: 2004

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Subject Headings

  • Climatic changes -- Canada.
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