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Climate change is more than rising temperatures. It involves catastrophic consequences, like thinning glaciers, more severe weather, unpredictable agricultural growing seasons that can cause food shortages, and wildlife endangerment.

Ontario is not immune to climate change. Drastic action needs to be taken before things get worse. We need solutions, or the average temperature of the Earth will rise at least 2 C by the end of the century. Southern Ontario is warming at twice this rate and will see more extreme weather events, like excessive rainfall in summer and fall. Our winters will be warmer, melting land that was once frozen (permafrost). And vital infrastructures built on permafrost will be at risk of degrading. Hotter weather will bring more heat waves, air pollution, and increase the length of hay fever season, which is terrible for people who suffer from allergies. The extreme heat will also raise the risk of forest fires.

What is Climate Change?

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in global conditions. Rising temperatures will cause ice caps to melt, and sea levels to rise to heights we’ve never seen before. It will also increase the number of natural disasters, such as flooding, droughts and wildfires. Throughout the world, it is expected that weather extremes will become more prevalent.

Natural climate change occurs over time. But, human activities are creating excessive amounts of greenhouse gases, causing our climate to change faster. These activities include burning fossil fuels to power cars, heat homes, and run manufacturing plants. Deforestation is another big factor. As trees get cut down to make room for urban expansion, mineral extraction, and agriculture, more greenhouse gases are emitted.

Our activities are polluting our environment and increasing the presence of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. This is causing our planet to get warmer at an unnatural rate, resulting in unpredictable ecological conditions. Human activity is the biggest factor in climate change today. If it is business as usual, things like food shortages will increase, sea biodiversity will decrease, and extreme weather will happen more frequently. But we can fight it if we take bold action.

What are greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases are gases in our atmosphere that naturally trap heat to keep our planet livable. Some of the gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. Over time, the presence of greenhouse gases has increased, trapping dangerously high levels of heat.

What are fossil fuels?

Fossil fuels are made from animals and plants that decompose. The fuels are found in the Earth’s crust. Fossil fuels contain carbon and hydrogen, which are used for energy. Oil, natural gas, and coal are all fossil fuels that are burned to power things like cars, furnaces, and buses.

The Impact of Climate Change

Canada is warming at about twice the rate as the rest of the world. The impact of this can be felt in Ontario. Rainfall patterns are shifting, extreme weather is becoming more frequent, and the length of seasons is changing. We must take drastic measures to combat climate change. If nothing is done, our quality of life will decrease.

Climate change in Ontario

Climate change has impacted Ontario and can be seen in our changing weather. There are more heatwaves, droughts, winter storms, tornadoes, and wind storms. Without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the average temperature in Ontario will rise by 3 to 8-degree Celsius within the next century. This will impact farmers’ ability to grow food and reduce our air quality – which can have significant health implications. Not to mention, these increases in heatwaves and droughts will cause more wildfires.

What is Ontario doing about climate change? Will the province reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Reducing greenhouse gases can be accomplished, but this means turning to climate-friendly solutions.

That’s why the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation is taking measures to fight climate change. Since 2005, Ontario has dropped greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent. The goal is to continue this trend and get to 30 percent by 2050, which aligns with the federal government’s Paris Climate Agreement commitments. The agreement outlines the shared goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

To reach this goal, Ontario has developed a plan that will decrease greenhouse gas emissions, increase water quality, and eliminate pollution.

The Ontario Environmental Plan

Future generations deserve a clean and sustainable environment, and Ontario has implemented solutions to address climate change and clean up water sources, polluted land and contaminated air through the Ontario Environmental Plan.

To start, the plan outlines the progress Ontario has made. Among many things, the province has invested in activities that will help protect and restore the Great Lakes. It has created the Surplus Food Redistribution Infrastructure program, which redistributes high-quality food to food rescue organizations. This reduces the amount of food that is thrown out. Wasted meals that end up in our landfills emit dangerous levels of greenhouse gases. The plan has also taken action to enforce local air quality standards. For example, an air monitoring station was created to better understand the unique needs of Southern Ontario.

The Ontario Environmental Plan also shares what they hope to do next. This includes working with the public, government representatives, environmental groups, corporations and First Nations to create initiatives that enhance air quality and address the unique challenges facing Indigenous communities. Additionally, Ontario will launch a new online system to better report pollution incidents and response times. To learn more about the Ontario Environmental Plan you can visit their website.

Changes by the government of Ontario to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have made a positive impact, and are helping to keep a safe, healthy and clean environment. But there’s still more we can do on an individual level.

What can we do to protect the environment?

Now more than ever we need to reduce our carbon footprint. Our planet is depending on us. And lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Reduce the amount of time you spend driving by walking, taking the bus, or riding a bike. You can also buy environmentally-friendly products. Check out the Ontario government website to learn more ways you can help the environment through lifestyle changes.

Another great way to save the planet is by supporting projects and programs that help protect the environment. You can easily do this by donating to the Protect the Environment Fund. The Fund allows you to fuel the collective work of organizations that are working hard to preserve our forests and parks.

We only have one earth. It’s up to us to save it and ensure its sustainability for future generations. Donate today and support programs like natural parks, watersheds, forest conservancies, wildlife societies, and much more.

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