A Ryerson Student on Climate Change

Bud burst is dependent on changes in weather

Bud burst is dependent on changes in weather

As some of you know, I’m a student of environmental science with a very special interest in anthropogenic global warming (or AGW)  and how urban parks can be made more resilient in the face of a changing climate.

Last week, as part of an assignment, I interviewed a Ryerson student about climate changes and asked her four questions.  Below are her responses that I thought I’d share with you.  The take-away is that this student sees very few changes in attitudes or behaviors of people or companies as they relates to climate change. 

Q1.  How would you say climate change is currently affecting your life and that of your community?
We often have “smog and/or heat advisories” which deter many people from being active outside in the summer time. Particularly the elderly, who are discouraged from doing much physical activity outdoors on these days. It effects the morale of the community greatly when air quality is so poor and the temperatures so high that people suffer as a result of leaving their homes.
Q2.  How do you think climate change might affect your life and that of your community in the future?
The effects of climate change that I see now will only be getting worse in the future; the number of days of “smog advisories” in our city, our summers being hotter with more severe weather than we have experienced. (1) And all this just in my immediate community! Looking to our global community, even today, we see the severe impact of climate change on our neighbours who now regularly experience drought, flooding, and extreme weather.  The wildfires in Australia or the long drought in California.  Last year, Australia set a new heat record for the entire continent when temperatures soared to levels that were on average, what, like 1.5C above average?  That’s a huge increase in a record that’s only supposed to come every 12,000 years.
I’m a student (and lover) of Art History, I know that conservationists are racing to save some of the cultural masterpieces that are, for example, in Venice, where water levels are rising and putting many cherished frescos as risk of being destroyed. Many masterpieces (not just art! But architecture too!) will certainly be lost as a result of rising sea levels due to climate change and melting glaciers.
Q3.  What changes have you noticed in your behavior or that of others in relation to climate change?
I have a Metro Pass and I don’t own a car.  If I’m going for a hike up north, I’ll car pool with friends.  Beyond that, I don’t see many changes at all. I see very few people conserving resources or  switching to alternative forms of transportation (alternatives to personal automobiles that is), or educating themselves on the ways they could help reduce the effects of climate change. Truly, I see people consuming more than they ever have, with less thought than they’ve ever given to the effects that their consumption has on them, their planet, and their futures.
Q4. What do you think needs to be done about climate change on a local, national or global scale?
I’d improved urban infrastructure allowing for more accessible and convenient forms of mass transportation would make it more appealing for people to leave their vehicles at home.  We need to put pressure on our federal government to enforce our existing environmental laws – especially around the issues of  the Alberta Tar Sands.

04faa290ef8911e48bc2cd7371d51328.jpgClick Chart for details

(1)  Toronto’s Future Weather & Climate Driver Study: Outcomes Report for further info ~ Ed.

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