Why Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Most of us know how lucky we are to live in Edmonton. We seem shielded from some of the stressors facing other cities but we are not shielded from the affects of climate change and Dr. Geoff Strong, a retired atmospheric scientist, said we need to start taking responsibility for our actions.

Dr. Geoff Strong, whose career spans over 30 years, spoke to an audience at City Hall on April 16th as part of The Way We Green Speakers Series. His primary message was that climate change is real and that its effects are being felt all over the world especially in four distinct regions.

In Sahel Africa climate change has increased desertification, drying rivers (some bigger than the North Saskatchewan River), and caused greater competition for productive land, food and water. Dr. Strong believes these changes were contributing to greater conflict in this area and that we were already beginning to see ‘climate refugees.’ In the South Pacific Islands, thermal expansion and melting glaciers are causing rising sea levels that are flooding settlements and increasing cyclone actions. He talked about how rising ocean temperatures are causing the death of coral reefs. In our Canadian north, river flow is increasing, spring break up is occurring earlier. The northern permafrost is also melting and causing damage to structures and the loss of winter ice roads.

You might be wondering how events in these regions affect us here in Edmonton? Dr. Strong illustrated that climate change is truly global in nature and that the inhabitants of these regions contribute the fewest per capita greenhouse gases, but are affected the most. This message hits hard for those of us in Canada who have some of the highest per capita emissions on the planet.

Dr. Strong stressed that “the problem is with all of us” and the solutions are as well. Some of the individual actions he mentioned to curb emissions include: reduce driving by five per cent, turn thermostats down by a few degrees at night and when no one is home, think about fuel efficiency when purchasing a vehicle or other consumer goods and plant trees to replace those harvested.

You can find more ideas on how to reduce emissions at www.edmonton.ca/co2re. With our homes contributing approximately 17 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions citywide, having an energy audit performed on your home is a great place to start.  An Energy Advisor will inform you about how to reduce emissions and save you money over the long term.

To learn more about the details of climate science and its global effects watch Dr. Strong’s presentation:

Visit The Way We Green Speaker’s Series videos page for previous presentations.

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About the Author
Robyn Webb
Robyn Webb works in the Office of the Environment where she is responsible for engaging citizens and employees to take action on climate change and energy efficiency. Robyn is passionate about creating sustainable cities.
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