Climate change is already having an impact, across Canada and around the world. Flooding in Calgary and Toronto, wildfires in Fort McMurray and the Northwest Territories, pine beetle outbreaks in British Columbia, the likely disappearance of Lennox Island, PEI due to sea level rise, more extreme heat waves and tornadoes, shorter skating, skiing, and snowboarding seasons…these and other local stories tell us that climate change isn’t just a problem for future generations. Though it’s that, too.
It’s affecting us today.
Here are just a few of the factors that make climate change the challenge of our lifetimes.
Climate change has a disproportionate impact on people in developing countries, even though the vast majority of the carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the atmosphere came from developed countries. Without fast, effective action, Canada and other wealthy countries will put the world’s most vulnerable people at greater risk of drought and crop failures, disease, flooding and other extreme weather events, and conflict over increasingly scarce resources.
If we’re too slow to take action on climate change, future generations will pay the price. They’ll inherit a world of extreme weather and rising sea levels, diseasepandemics and species extinctions, without having any say in the matter. Those impacts are beginning to show up today. There’s still time to avert the worst effects of climate change if we take action now—but if we don’t, our children and grandchildren (and theirs) will pay the price.
Everyone will feel the impacts of climate change, regardless of age or gender, nationality or income. The longer we delay action, the greater the chance that our communities will be forced to relocate because of rising sea levels, a family farm will be closed by drought, or a loved one will die in a heat wave.
Unchecked climate change will have catastrophic impacts on species and ecosystems. Scientists say many thousands of the world’s species will become extinct if climate change continues to warm the atmosphere.
The golden toad was one of the first species lost to climate change. It was last seen in the Costa Rican rainforest in 1989.
All the world’s major faiths are expressing serious concern about climate change as a risk to humanity.
On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis published his second encyclical, Laudato Si’, subtitled On Care For Our Common Home.
“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life.”
“Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”
On August 18, 2015, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change at the end of a two-day symposium in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward (khalifah) on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger ending life as we know it on our planet. This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earth’s fine equilibrium (mīzān) may soon be lost. As we humans are woven into the fabric of the natural world, its gifts are for us to savour. But the same fossil fuels that helped us achieve most of the prosperity we see today are the main cause of climate change.”
The Interfaith Summit adopted a statement on climate change in 2014.
“In our communities and thanks to the media, we see the manifestations of climate change everywhere. From our brothers and sisters around the world, we hear about its effects on people and nature. We recognize that these effects disproportionally affect the lives, livelihoods and rights of poorer, marginalized and therefore most vulnerable populations, including indigenous peoples.”
Canada is one of the 10 biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, and has the second-highest level of greenhouse gas emissions per capita. At the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris, Canada committed to bold action on climate change. CAN-Rac and its members are calling for governments at all levels to undertake a rapid transition from fossil fuels to a green energy economy, and for the federal government to pay its fair share to help the most vulnerable developing countries adapt to climate change impacts they’re already seeing.