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What Is Climate Change?

Broadly speaking, climate change refers to identifiable changes in the properties of the climate and which persists for an extended period of time.  Climate change may occur naturally by such occurrences as volcano eruptions, or may be caused by external situations such as human impacts on the enviornment.

The Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: "a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate varbility observed over comparable time periods".

The UNFCCC definition makes the distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes.

What Is Causing Climate Change?

It is understood that the current climate change situation, is caused by carbon dioxide emissions arising from the burning of fossil fuels.  Dr. Tapio Schneider, who is a climate scientist and Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at the California Institute of Technology has stated in a 2008 Publication that:  "Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide concentrations are higher today than at any time in at least the past 650,000 years. They are about 35% higher than before the industrial revolution, and this increase is caused by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, as are methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor, and a host of other trace gases. They occur naturally in the atmosphere.

Is Climate Change Real?

This is the question that has been, and continues to be argued by experts, corporate executives, politicians, and the public in general.  The website Skeptical Science, has been developed which is dedicated to present the myths, arguments and the science around the principle of climate change.

 How Does Climate Change Effect Me?

The website maintained by the National Geographic has addressed this question around 5 categories being:  Water; Crops; Heat; Weather, and Health. The following are excerpts taken from the National Geographic website which helps to explain these impacts.

Water

The oceans help modulate Carbon Dioxide levels and maintain global temperatures while transporting nutrients and supporting marine ecosystems. As the climate changes, so will the freshwater and saltwater resources that form the foundations of our communities and  economies.

 Crops

Climate change may actually benefit some plants by lengthening growing seasons and increasing carbon dioxide. Yet other effects of a warmer world, such as more pests, droughts, and flooding, will be less benign. How will the world adapt? Using an aggressive climate model known as HadGEM2, researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute project that by 2050, suitable croplands for four top commodities—corn, potatoes, rice, and wheat—will shift, in some cases pushing farmers to plant new crops.

Heat

The world will feel different in 2100, when average temperatures will have risen by several degrees. Every kind of landscape that humans inhabit will be affected: urban, suburban, rural; mountains, plains, coasts. More of the developing world will acquire life-changing modern comforts. “You’ll have near-universal saturation of air-conditioning” in warm climes by 2100, says economist Lucas Davis of the University of California, Berkeley. By powering those devices, though, we’ll be contributing to global warming. If we can’t find ways to turn down the heat, we’ll find ways to adapt to it.

Weather

Torrential hurricanes, devastating droughts, crippling ice storms, and raging heat waves, all are extreme weather phenomena that can claim lives and cause untold damage. Climate change influences severe weather by causing longer droughts and higher temperatures in some regions and more intense deluges in others, say climate experts. Among the most vulnerable are communities in exposed mountain and coastal regions. In those settings worldwide, citizens are adjusting to new weather realities by strengthening warning, shelter, and protection systems.

Health

Climate change isn’t just bad for the planet’s health—it’s bad for people’s too. Effects will vary by age, gender, geography, and socioeconomic status—and so will remedies. A recent international study in the Lancet says that many more people will be exposed to extreme weather events over the next century than previously thought—“a potentially catastrophic risk to human health” that could undo 50 years of global health gains.

Solutions are in the works. In flood-prone Benin, national health insurance has been expanded to cover diseases likeliest to increase as the world warms and sea levels rise. In the steamy Philippines, programs are helping low-income residents manage weather-related risks with loans, hygiene education, and waste and water control. Meanwhile public health experts everywhere are calling for new measures to help people stay healthy despite floods, droughts, and heat waves.

Will Stone Mills Be Affected?

No place on earth will be un-affected by climate change, however, it is suspected that some areas of the world will be affected greater than others.  It is important to note that although impacts may be local, the cause of those impacts could be from activities occurring hundreds or thousands of kilometers away.  For this reason, all persons must be cognizant of their activities and whether we are helping or worsening climate change.

Locally, the municipality is obviously aware of the situation and appreciates there will be impacts on the day to day operations of the municipality.  At this time, there has been no comprehensive brain-storming completed to fully understand the impacts of climate change or how the municipality plans to mitigate these impacts, assuming of course that, mitigation processes are possible.

City of Kingston Council - Climate Change Emergency

Council for the City of Kingston declares a climate emergency.  Read the article published in the Kingston Whig Standard.