Barbara Nolan, Nishnaabe-kwe, formerly from Wikwemikong, who now resides in Garden River First Nation opened an event on Thursday evening, Jan. 25th, 2018 at the Water Tower Inn Pub.
A prayer and traditional Nishnaabe teaching was offered by Barbara Nolan in Nishnaabe language.
Nolan told the large crowd at Casey’s Pub, “This might be the first time I ever delivered a prayer in a bar. We can pray anywhere “she said.
“We must pray when we are walking in the bush, when we go outside anywhere – snowshoeing – ice skating – canoeing – camping – We feel good. We offer thanks to Creator. The heaviness from our city life can be healed or contribute to our well being when going into the great outdoors.”
Nolan asked Creator to “Keep to keep this world alive – to keep this earth from not getting any sicker than it already is. In whatever way we can, we must help mother earth.” she said.
“Everything is sacred – the air around us. How can we contribute to make that air better for everyone? What we put into the earth and water is important – everything that grows on top of the earth – the animals and water beings – the air beings – everything is of vital importance. It is us humans that are destroying the earth. Let us open our minds and do our part in making this earth a better place to be.”
Casey’s Pub was indeed, the venue where several dozen people came together to explore issues related to climate change – specifically as climate change impacts infrastructure and buildings. The expert panel consisted of Dr. Dianne Sax, Dr. Blair Feltmate, Rhonda Bateman and Pierre de Gagne.
Appointed 2 years ago as Environmental Commissioner for Ontario, Dr. Dianne Saxe encouraged attendees and all of Ontario citizens to learn more about Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights.
Sax stated that (former) MPP for Algoma, Bud Wildman who was in attendance Thursday evening – was heavily involved in developing the Environmental Bill of Rights.
The Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) was passed by the legislature of Ontario, in 1993. It gives Ontario citizens rights to participate in environmental decision-making.
The EBR is upheld by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. The ECO Bill of Rights is here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/93e28
Dr. Saxe reports to the Speaker of the House, providing non-partisan research and fact based evidence to support the work mandated by the EBR, focusing on energy, environment and climate issues. In the role of watchdog for Ontario citizens, Saxe operates as a neutral advocate for public environmental policy.
“Climate change, changes everything.” she said. “Is it as bad as we think? It’s worse” she told a full house at The Water Tower Inn pub.
“Working on climate change is difficult. It changes everything we care about.” Sax stated that working on climate change issues and policy is an issue that citizens need to think about with an eye to the future which includes the people we most care about in the present.
“It takes about a generation after we put CO2 into atmosphere before we start to experience the effects on earth.” she said.
With average temperature records around the globe continuing to rise, Dr. Saxe stated, “We are now in completely uncharted territory. It’s not the ‘averages’ (recorded temperatures) that do the most damage, it’s the extremes.”
Climate change scientists continue to state that climate change is real and it’s serious. Without consistent and concerted efforts, climate change effects that may have taken a generation to be felt, are increasing at a rate, such that the effects of damage in the here and now, are moving closer to immediacy. “The sun’s heat keeps arriving in the earth the same way it always has, but due to greenhouse gases, it can’t get back out into space. Greenhouse gases are narrowing the window for heat to escape.” shared Dr. Saxe.
“Carbon dioxide is being put out into atmosphere at alarming rates. In 25 years we have increased the rate at which we continue to pollute the atmosphere.” said Saxe.
“It’s no coincidence that we are getting the most ferocious storms ever reported. Extreme events in Canada and the United States have already tripled, and we haven’t yet experienced the impacts of what we have emitted (into the atmosphere). We have already put our future generations at risk. Ontario is warming faster than the world average.”
“Ice roads that people rely on in northern communities, that used to be relied upon for months, are now only open for weeks.”
“Wildfires carry particulates – fine particles – the ones that do the most lung damage – that go right in and stick – can travel thousands of kilometers in the wind. There’s nothing really that doesn’t affect us.”
Saxe also spoke about the financial impact of climate change. “Flooding – insurance – the implications are already huge. There are also changes in the natural world because we have been making things warmer for so long.”
Saxe said that the emissions we are making now and past emissions are creating a perfect storm to be the greatest emergency of our lives. “There are real tipping points in the world – after which things can change very fast.”
Saxe encouraged participants to keep an eye on evidence related to sea ice. “Paying attention to sea ice is critical. When the sun falls on ice, the heat is reflected. When the sun falls on open water the heat is absorbed. For decade after decade, the amount of sea ice went down – the pattern never broke. The more we heat the oceans, the more sea ice we see falling into the ocean. In Sept. 2016, a large portion of sea ice ‘fell off the cliff’ – catastrophic ice losses in both the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. We cannot stop or ignore the feedback loop as it pertains to ice.”
“Is it too late? – Too late for what?” she said. “The world we knew growing up is gone – so it’s too late for that – but it’s not too late to make a difference for what’s ahead on the climate change front– Right now – is our moment to make changes for the future. There’s still a lot of things we can do.”
Saxe said that while coal plant closures has pushed up hydro prices in Ontario, it has meant cleaner air and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Putting a price on carbon in Jan. 2017 was another concrete policy Saxe mentioned that has moved Ontario forward, supporting environmental policy.
Making a difference now includes “talking about climate change in your close personal circles – families – friends.” stated Dr. Saxe. “There may be things at work that you can do – or in your own home. Ask you elected representatives what they are doing.”
Saxe said, “Election years offer a perfect opportunity to speak to your political representatives about issues related to climate change.” Ontario is heading to the polls this spring, with the next general election confirmed as June 7, 2018. The 2018 municipal elections in Ontario will be held on October 22, 2018.
Rhonda Bateman, Sault Ste. Marie and Regional Conservation Authority General Manager, spoke about water infrastructure and how climate change and conservation authorities fit together. Bateman also spoke on regulatory responsibilities – the Conservation Authorities Act – which was updated in Dec. 2017 to include a ‘purpose statement’. Conservation Authorities provide flood forecasting and protect watersheds in their jurisdictions, among many more management activities.
“When flood waters are bearing down, the force of the water will tend to take the path of least resistance and can result in the reconfiguration of a water course – perhaps to its historic path or to a new diversion – an unintended path that may go through someone’s house or property.” said Bateman. “Water retention through wetlands is a climate change mitigation strategy.”
To watch a portion of Rhonda Bateman’s presentation, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xt-YPsUFgU
STEP Consulting Principal, Pierre de Gagne is a consulting engineer in Building Services, Energy and Air Quality. For more than 25 years de Gagne has been a senior staff member at University of Ottawa. During his tenure at U of Ottawa, greenhouse gases were reduced by 10,000 tonnes eq CO2. Energy intensity was reduced by 40% and water intensity was more than halved. Campus waste diversion rates now exceed 60%. As Director of Utilities and Campus Sustainability he oversaw the renewal of over 600 energy and water meters in a distributed digital network complete with database that will support future building and campus dashboards.
Pierre De Gagne’s presentation focused on buildings – efficiency – productivity – and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSQSfDwZtxo
Dr. Blair Feltmate, Head, Intact Centre on Climate Change, University of Waterloo offered told attendees that the difference between what we have now – an earth that is 1 degree Celsius warmer than 100 years ago – vs. an ice age, is 5 or 6 degrees.”
“This is not my cavalier opinion.” He stated. “This is the opinion of the intergovernmental panel on climate change – a group of over several hundred climate scientists from all around the world who do nothing else but study climate science. They have determined that through the burning of fossil fuels we have driven the increase in temperature.” Dr. Feltmate chairs the development of two flood adaptation Standards for The Canadian Standards Association, and he is Chair, Federal Government of Canada Expert Panel on Climate Adaptation and Resilience. The primary purpose of the Intact Centre is to mobilize practical and cost-effective means to help de-risk Canada from the costs associated with extreme weather events.
Dr. Feltmate offered several practical tips for citizens on ways to mitigate risk associated with weather events, including flooding to homes.
Dr. Feltmate’s presentation is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMSjjapsz6k
Rob Rattle, Executive Director, Crane Institute for Sustainability stated, “We are planning to open up a climate change portal on our website shortly to advance what was (and will be) discussed at these events.”
The Crane Institute can be found here: http://craneinstitute4sus.wixsite.com/ci4s
Rattle encourages everyone to follow The Crane Institute on Twitter. https://twitter.com/CRANE_Institute
The Crane Institute for Sustainability was responsible for bringing together the expert panel on Thursday, Jan. 25th, 2017. A Question and Answer period also took place.
Dr. Dianne Saxe presentation is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Kd27mig4xw&t=99s