Global Warming 101

Members of the Transition Town movement believe Global Warming (also referred to as Climate Change) is happening and that it is caused by human activities. We understand that there are still dissenters who present various arguments. We are not interested in further discussion – we are only interested in preparing.

Due to the variables involved it is impossible to say exactly when and to what degree it will happen. However we choose to act with prudence based on what the majority of the worlds scientific community is saying and expect its impacts to be seriously effecting us as soon as 2020. Its longer term impacts, over the next thirty years, we expect to be far, far more dangerous than those which will result from Peak Oil.

Global warming will effect food, water and energy supplies worldwide as well as housing, health and livelihoods in every nation.

In a nutshell, the effects on Canada will be that our summers will be hotter with less precipitation while the winters will be warmer and when winter rain does fall it will increasingly do so in the form of storms. This combination will cause the winter precipitation to run-off as opposed to being captured by the land and its aquifers for later use. Lastly, less precipitation will fall in the form of snow and thus will not be available as mountain snowpack water supplies during the summer. The result is a steady decline in water supplies and dry, drought conditions in our forests and fields.

The drought effect will be felt more in the West due to its historical dry conditions. The East will also experience overall reduced precipitation but more water loss from storm flooding/runoff.

At this point, to visualize the impacts of these trends, watch the following video from CBC, “Future Earth 2025”.

Science fiction? Watch these two short videos:
and (Europe will be affected in a manner similar to Western Canada)

If you wish you can explore the details of these trends you can do so for the U.S. here and for Canada here. There are specific chapters in the reports for each region.

When confronted with this scenario, people who live in or near cities tend to think about the impacts on food and water supplies but keep in mind that in large parts of Canada, electricity supplies also depend on precipitation. In Northern Canada, housing and transport will be directly effected by a gradual melting of the permafrost and thus ground stability.

The book that best explains climate change from a Canadian perspective is “The World In 2050 – Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future” by Laurence Smith.

For the best summary of where the world is right now regarding global warming see “State Of The Climate In 2010 – Highlights” (PDF). An in-depth, video based introduction to climate change from a Canadian perspective, courtesy of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (UVIC), can be found here

Now that you have some idea of what will happen in Canada,  watch the National Geographic film “Six Degrees Could Change The World”. That way when you hear people talk about one degree of change or four degrees warmer, you will have some idea of what that might imply. All four parts can be viewed on Youtube here.