The way food is produced, processed and distributed is a major contributor to climate change. Food production can have positive and negative impacts on the environment depending on how it is produced and distributed. For example, strong local food production with easy access for people to purchase can greatly reduce the amount food needs to travel to get to our plate. Small scale and organic agriculture has fewer environmental impacts.
On the negative side, major grocery chains rely on central distribution systems which see locally produced foods shipped to a central location to be processed and packaged and then shipped back to our local stores. A lack of local infrastructure (abattoirs) means food has to travel farther to be processed. We also import the majority of our foods consumed and export a great deal of what we produce locally. The Nova Scotia report, Making Food Matter states that in 2008 only 13% of our food dollars spent made it back to local farms.
In addition, the loss of small local grocery stores through consolidated control in the grocery industry has also concentrated the locations of stores, leading to reliance on car travel to access food.
Climate change can lead to increased food prices due to weather extremes damaging crops: droughts, floods, unusual cold, hot or dry. When we have food shortages the price of food goes up and it is felt on a local level. People living in poverty and food insecurity are most vulnerable to these negative impacts.
There are many things we can do individually to make a difference. Simple actions we can take include learning to grow your own food, buying more local food, organizing with your neighbors to grow food together, and preserve food when it is in season. You can ask your grocery store for more local food and for information on how the food is processed. On a larger scale it is important to raise the issue of food with your neighbours and with local politicians to create action to address food insecurity.
by Karen MacKinnon
Responsible Energy Action will sponsor an energy efficiency event on Thursday, January 28th, 6:30 pm at the People’s Place (Antigonish Public Library).
The presentation will cover how Nova Scotians use energy, and tips and tricks for saving money, staying warm, and reducing your footprint.
There will be refreshments.share this:
The link between climate change and health is clear. It’s been called “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century” by the World Health Organization — but it is also seen as an ideal opportunity to seek ways to both reduce climate change while greatly improving health.
Climate change is connected to health in many ways:
Climate change shapes what we eat. Although local food production is increasing, much of our food is imported from other parts of the world where a drought can wipe out crops and increase scarcity. That makes it harder for us to find and afford foods.
Climate change and the air we breathe are closely linked. For example, the burning of fossil fuels creates air pollution that effects air quality and worsens conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) — and it makes climate change worse. In China, they recently declared a “red alert” — the country’s highest alarm level, in response to thick smog. Their pollution is due largely to the burning of coal.
Climate change increases the likelihood of certain infections. Lyme disease is moving its way north because warmer conditions are better for the ticks that carry the infection. Mosquitoes carry malaria, and they like warm, damp conditions — malaria is now being seen in places in the world where it was once uncommon.
Climate change contributes to more heat-related illnesses. People have died because of increased heat, sometimes in great numbers, as they didn’t have the means to protect themselves. Weather events such as floods and typhoons are more likely to happen with climate change, resulting in more illnesses, injuries, and loss of homes.
Climate change erodes our coastlines through rising sea levels. Communities and fisheries are at risk. Our homes and employment are part of what makes us healthy, and coastal communities know the threat that our way of life faces.
Climate change makes places unlivable. A newer term, “environmental refugees”, has been used to describe people fleeing at least in part because they are unable to grow food or because of flooding. The conflict in Syria is influenced by environmental conditions. As Nova Scotia prepares to welcome refugees from Syria, it is inevitable that refugee numbers will increase due to climate change.
Healthcare providers recognize that addressing climate change and improving health go hand-in-hand. An open letter signed by doctors was just released and given to the federal Minister of the Environment as representatives gather in Paris for COP 21. The asks included an ambitious climate agreement, integrating health into climate change policies, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, and prioritizing actions that both reduce climate change and improve health.
This last ask is where local efforts fit in. We can all promote active transportation through how we design our streets and sidewalks, how we create supportive environments at work, and whether we decide to leave our cars behind and walk or cycle to work and school.
We can advocate for the phase-out of coal powered electricity in Canada and increase our use of renewable energy. This might mean, for example, solar panels on our homes, or new wind farms. Any significant change requires a plan that ensures employment for people involved in fossil fuel industries, but, ultimately, ending dependence on fossil fuels improves air quality, decreases deaths from cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and limits global warming.
We need to adapt to environmental changes caused by climate change, but we also have to pursue every opportunity to combat it.
Using the fact that climate change is a health issue makes it easier to see how we are all personally impacted. It also makes it clearer that by taking action we can improve our own health as well as that of those around us.
By Monika Dutt, Medical Officer of Health (Cape Breton, Guysborough, Antigonish),
Shores are vulnerable to both rising sea levels and increased numbers and intensity of storm events as the climate warms (see How Will Sea Level Rise Affect Antigonish?). The vulnerability of a shoreline to erosion, or the rate that it erodes, is related to the exposure to wave action and to the composition of both the bedrock and the material on top of it. This is highly variable in the Antigonish region.
The process of coastal erosion on Nova Scotia shores is beautifully and concisely explained in a two page brochure called Understanding Nova Scotia’s Coastlines by Natural Resources Canada. In this publication they emphasize responsible coastal development which must consider the process of natural shoreline change to avoid costly damage and adverse alteration to natural shorelines.
Erosion rates vary around the province, because waves, tides and the presence of sea ice vary. Also, sediment supply (coming from offshore or by the erosion of adjacent shores) determines the stability of a beach or waterfront. When sediment is available, beaches build seaward but when sediment is limited, beaches erode.
The most dynamic shores are barrier beaches and coastal headlands. In Nova Scotia, they are favoured sites to build homes and cottages. Unfortunately, both are extremely vulnerable to rising sea level. Coastal headlands may erode rapidly to form steep cliffs, which then become partially protected from erosion by the accumulation below of boulders, and wide sand beaches. The stability of barrier beaches is closely linked to what is happening at adjacent headlands. Beaches benefit from sand supply coming from eroding headlands, but beach stability is threatened once the headland is depleted. Barrier beaches experience different types and rates of change depending on their composition, size and shape. Low barrier beaches can naturally rebuild, as long as there is a sediment supply.
The processes of coastal erosion discussed in the brochure are emphasized and illustrated for well-known beaches and headlands in the Antigonish area in a report by Dan Utting. He concludes that because the coastline is so diverse, to assess coastal hazards it is important to first determine the coastal geomorphology. His report includes aerial photos of Mahoney’s Beach, Jimtown, Monks Head and Pomquet Beach.
The Natural Resources Canada Brochure goes on to say that increased construction of shoreline armouring to protect houses threatens the natural capacity of shorelines to buffer inland areas from erosion and flooding. Engineered shore protection structures, such as retaining walls, diminish the supply of sediment to beaches.
If you are planning to purchase or develop shoreline property, first investigate and assess the property. What type of shoreline is it? What is its composition? How high or wide is it? Shorelines may look more stable in the summer. Walk the shore in the fall and winter too. Talk with neighbours to learn about typical changes in the shoreline or the history of erosion and flooding. Consult with experts to discuss the character and evolution of the shoreline and what the future will bring. Obtain older vertical air photos of the property to examine past shoreline changes. Lastly, plan a safe setback for your property so that natural shoreline changes do not threaten it over the time you (or your children) plan to use it.
We have been discussing the process of coastal erosion and the vulnerability of developing property near shores. The importance of protecting beach and dune habitat for not only the diverse life that they support, but for the integrity of inshore areas, is presented in a report by Sue Abbott (Bird Studies Canada) called Healthy Beaches and Dunes for Tomorrow. This report explains that beaches and dunes are dynamic landscapes that are constantly adapting to changing environmental conditions. Beaches and dunes are interconnected with the land behind them. Barrachois (brackish ponds) and salt marshes are common features behind beaches and dunes. These coastal wetlands are essential nurseries for fish and wildlife. We are fortunate in Nova Scotia to have different types of sandy beaches, such as sand spits and barrier beaches. Beaches and dunes are dynamic features that provide habitat for plants and wildlife – some of which are rare such as the endangered Piping Plover.
While many of us enjoy the beaches and coastlines of Nova Scotia as recreational areas, some have property or wish to purchase property that is located on coastlines, wetlands, rivers or lakes. Shoreline properties are valuable and beautiful in many ways, but they also carry with them the risk of erosion and flooding. Owning and/or living on them is a privilege and includes a responsibility to care for this special ribbon of life. Wise stewardship of the edge where land, water and air meet is vital to preserving water quality, soil integrity and the health and beauty of the ecosystems linked to your property.
As already noted, there are a number of points to consider if you are buying shoreline property. But what if you have already bought a home, or have built on your shoreline property and you are having problems with erosion? What are your options? What can you do to preserve your land without causing more damage to the ecosystem? One option is to explore the idea of using Living Shorelines for erosion control and mitigation. You can find an excellent resource for this relatively inexpensive, simple, yet effective method on the Ecology Action Centre website, including videos and how-to-do-it-yourself instructions. For those interested in finding experts who will work to create a healthy shoreline for them, businesses such as Helping Nature Heal are available to help.
There are some simple but important rules to follow when living by shorelines. The most important guidelines are to keep building construction and development as far back as possible from the shoreline and to maintain the area between your home and the shoreline as naturally as possible, leaving the trees, shrubs and natural vegetation in place. Developing and maintaining shorelines this way will save you time, energy and money in the long run – and you will have the added enjoyment of knowing that you are helping to reduce your ecological footprint and the impact of climate change.
by H. Mayhew and L. Buckland-Nicksshare this:
all photos by A. Mathie
If you have photos of the march you would like to share here, please send them to us at AClimateResilience@gmail.com.
Antigonish will be on the streets on Sunday, November 29, marching to urge world leaders to take aggressive action on climate change. The Global Climate March is an international initiative happening in communities all over the world on the eve of the UN climate summit in Paris. So far over 2100 events have been registered worldwide and the list is growing.
The Antigonish event coincides with the annual Christmas Parade so the climate marchers will join that procession. Of course the parade will also include Santa Claus, one of the world’s best known climate change victims. Local organizers have not yet been able to reach Santa for a statement. They expect him to endorse their efforts to draw attention to the plight of the North, where the climate is changing more quickly than anywhere.
Before the march, local experts will facilitate workshop sessions on how to address climate change through policy, technical solutions and leadership. Beginning at 12 noon at Desmond Hall, participants will be able to join one of the workshop sessions.
Workshop & Climate March Schedule for November 29
12 – 1:30 pm: Climate Change Workshop at Desmond Hall (Markin Global Complex, Coady Institute, StFX University)
1:40 pm: Gather for March, with the Christmas Parade, at Keating Millennium Centre parking lot (StFX University), behind the “Global Climate March” banner
2 – 3 pm: Global Climate March, finishing at the Antigonish Mall (133 Church Street)
Everyone is encouraged to join the workshop, the march or both. Wear GREEN!
See the press release here.
by Jay Rossshare this:
Sea level is rising on the shores of Antigonish county and is certain to continue. But how much and with what impacts? In this post we try to answer these questions, drawing on global and local sources.
Even without climate change, the land is sinking in this area and will fall another 17 cm by 2100 (20 cm/century). Melting glaciers and polar ice caps add to the volume of the ocean; and as it warms, it expands. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says these processes will result in a further global average sea level rise of between 28 and 98 cm by the end of this century, depending on our ability to control greenhouse gas emissions. Even the “best case” scenario studied by the IPCC suggests that climate change will result in additional rise of 44 cm, give or take 15 cm. (See the IPCC projections here). Adding the 17 cm due to sinking land, and allowing for uncertainty, we would expect sea level rise of between 45 cm and 78 cm by 2100.
That is the best case. On the high side it could be over a metre (115 cm). As bad as this sounds, it is not the whole story. First, it does not take into account the chance that marine-based sectors of the antarctic ice sheet will melt. These are attached to Antarctica but extend offshore and are supported by the sea bed. The melting of this ice is not well understood by scientists so the IPCC does not include it in any of its scenarios. They do say, however, that if it does occur, there is “medium confidence that this additional contribution would not exceed several tenths of a metre of sea level rise during the 21st century”. So, roughly, all things considered, in Antigonish we are looking at between ½ and 1½ metres of sea level rise in this century.
Second, these estimates are for the average sea level. Another concern is what will happen during exceptionally high tides, especially when these occur during the storms that are expected to become more frequent and more extreme as the climate changes.
Third, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the upper limit of this estimated range. James Hansen and colleagues published a paper in July this year which the Washington Post covered under the headline “The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future.” In the paper, an all-star lineup of climate scientists predict that the contribution of melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica will be greater than is generally appreciated and that even if we are able to limit global mean temperature increase to less that 2°C, we could still see “at least several metres” of global mean sea level rise. They argue that because of the “extreme sensitivity of sea level to ocean warming and the devastating economic and humanitarian impacts of a multi-meter sea level rise”, this, rather than the 2°C limit, should determine our allowable planetary greenhouse gas emissions. [UPDATE, March 22, 2016: This paper, published online before peer review has now been published in a peer reviewed version, with little change.]
What physical evidence is there of these processes at work so far in Antigonish and what are the expected future impacts? Tim Webster and others, in a report released in 2010, described their use of airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, tidal gauge data, and analysis of aerial photography from 1971 to 2007 to look at flood and erosion risk due to sea level rise in Antigonish County.
Some of their results include the following.
1. The aerial photography series suggests that although Pomquet beach is growing, other beaches (at Cape Jack and Mahoney’s) are in retreat.
2. Using historical hourly tide gauge data from the nearest location (Pictou), and assuming that the rate of sea level rise due to climate change (50 cm) and land subsidence (20 cm) totals 70 cm, the authors calculate that a 2.27 m storm-related flood level (which occurred on December 30, 1993) “had a 65% probability of occurring within 19 years and a 99% probability of occurring within 45.5 years”. This is based on historical storm surge data so would underestimate actual risk if future storms are more severe or frequent than past storms. Nor does it include the potential “several tenths of a metre” of SLR from the marine antarctic ice sheet.
3. Inundation maps (using the same conservative assumptions) show the effects of the 2.27 m storm event with the addition of 70 cm for expected sea level rise over the next century. To see these maps go to the report.
A report on coastal planning in Antigonish County, written by Amber Nicol in 2006, identifies specific hazards related to sea level rise and climate change. Apart from the effects of a rise in mean sea level, the expected reduction in winter sea ice would reduce protection against erosion during powerful winter storms. Possible effects of such storms include overwash and breaching of barrier beaches. Because it is growing, Pomquet beach may be less vulnerable to storms than the beaches protecting Antigonish and Tracadie Harbours. Nicol notes that breaches have recently occurred at the entrance to Antigonish Harbour at Mahoney’s beach on Boxing Day in 2004, and on the western side of Tracadie Harbour prior to October 2000. If protected salt marshes become more open to the ocean, the implications for biodiversity, habitat preservation, and shoreline integrity are potentially serious.
To conclude, there is strong consensus that we should expect the mean sea level to rise between ½ and 1½ metres this century, a consequence of the combined effects of sinking land and rising global mean sea level due to climate change. With more frequent and severe storms, the probable effects include accelerated shoreline erosion, damage to property and infrastructure, and reduced ecosystem resilience. But if some credible projections are accurate, and the actual rise in global sea level is several metres within the same time frame, the unprecedented loss of property and habitat in this part of Nova Scotia may seem trivial in comparison with the catastrophic consequences for many of the largest population centres on the planet.
by Jay Rossshare this:
You can pay now and play later OR you can play now and pay later. Either way, you have to pay.
− John C. Maxwell
I think Mr. Maxwell might have borrowed liberally from the FRAM oil filter slogan of the 1970s when he made this remark. Regardless, I have a lot of respect for this sentiment and I believe it is a notion that often goes unheeded in North American society. Allow me to illustrate its intent with a personal anecdote…
By the spring of 2011, I had become painfully aware that I, personally, needed to do something to shelter myself and my family from the impending energy crisis we currently face and the worsening effects of climate change. Not only was the federal government of the day failing to act on renewable energy opportunities and climate change, but actively stifling alternatives to dwindling fossil fuel supplies and ignoring the reality of climate change. So, after much research and soul-searching, my wife and I decided to invest in the PV solar system detailed here.
We made this decision based not only on a moral principle but on a solid financial argument. It had to be, as we did not have the money to fund this project independently and, therefore, needed to re-mortgage our home to pay the capital cost. I prepared a financial proposal for our mortgage holder (Bergengren Credit Union), which was approved on the spot, based on the facts I had presented.
So, off we went on our solar odyssey and, in September 2011, we started collecting and using our own energy from the sun to power and heat our home. The first year passed and everything worked just as predicted. We produced half of the electricity we used that year, at a price (13.8¢/kWh), just slightly higher than that charged by NSPI at that time (13.3¢/kWh). In other words, for that first year we paid about a half a cent premium for the electricity collected by our system. Not bad, right? We figured the extra money we spent that year (about $50) was money well spent on the health of the planet.
Something interesting happened on that first anniversary, however. I felt I had somehow fallen short of doing my part to help mitigate climate change. I thought, “Well, producing half of our electricity is okay but…what if we could produce 100% of our electricity? How cool would that be?” Well, we had already “maxxed out” the amount of PV we were allowed to install, so the challenge became, “How to live within the constraints of our solar infrastructure?”
Again, after exhaustive research, I discovered that we Canadians are the most wasteful consumers of electricity in the world, while paying the least for this electricity of any country in the world (see: Lindsay Wilson). It turned out that by monitoring our usage and employing some easily attained conservation measures, we were able to reduce our consumption to the point where, since 2013, our PV system has produced all the electricity we have used at our home (with a little left over, each year, to sell to NSPI!). Again, not bad, right?
Well here’s the real treat: we will continue to produce our own electricity, at 13.8¢/kWh, for at least the next 20 years while NSPI is currently charging almost 16¢/kWh (with another rate hike expected in the new year). That’s right, for every future NSPI rate increase (averaging 5%/year over the last ten years), we will be saving that much more money on future electricity costs. Our system will have paid for itself in about 10 years from now and will then continue to provide us with “free” electricity afterwards, while still having ten years of warranty remaining on all major components of the system.
In the spirit of the opening quotation, I would characterize what I have done as paying now and playing later. We will all have to pay, one way or another, for the energy we use now and into the future. In essence, I have chosen to pay now, as I find the future difficult to predict. Everybody has to make their own choices for their own reasons. This story is meant to explain some of the choices I’ve made regarding the costs of energy.
by Peter Ritchie
Following the public launch of the local climate change film Listening to Our Neighbours, the largest number of written responses we received were on the subject of safe biking routes. To help inform any citizen-led initiatives on this issue, we asked for a peek at the Active Transportation Plan that has been in development through a joint effort by Town and County. Today we received this reply:
“The Town of Antigonish and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish are dedicated to fostering more active lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities. To this end the Town and County engaged MMM Group to help develop an Active Transportation plan through community engagement and input. The resulting report offers guidelines and suggestions for AT actions that may work in our community, these along with additional information are currently being presented and shared with Councils.
“Watch the Town of Antigonish (http://www.townofantigonish.ca/) and Municipality of the County of Antigonish (http://www.antigonishcounty.ns.ca/) websites for updates and ways to be involved in Active Transportation.
If you have questions or ideas for AT you can contact Marlene Melanson at the Municipality of the County of Antigonish (902-863-1141) or Emily Kehoe at the Town of Antigonish (firstname.lastname@example.org).”
Or you can subscribe to this blog and find out as soon as the plan is available.share this: