Climate change refers to the alternation in the global or regional climatic patterns, which is greatly attributed to the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Accumulation of greenhouse gasses has led to climate change that has negative impacts on biodiversity. Climate change can lead to the emergence of extreme weather conditions, which can be limited to specific regions. Climate change is affecting energy, transportation, agriculture and ecosystems in both the United States and Canada. This paper intends to analyze the effects associated with climate change as well as compare and contrast their impacts on Canada and the United States. Climate change interacts with social and environment stresses; thus, the threshold of these changes leads to massive transformations in ecosystems and livelihoods. To mitigate the changes in climate, the United States and Canada need to introduce adaptive measures. Therefore, this paper highlights different mitigating efforts that each of the countries have implemented to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Comparing and Contrasting the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Canada and the United States of America
Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture
In both countries, climate change has both positive and undesirable impacts on agriculture and ecosystems. On a positive note, climate change has provided other regions with longer favorable seasons for agricultural production and milder winter seasons. As a result, this has greatly boosted production of favorable crops, thereby improving food security. For instance, since Canada lies within high latitude belt, the increase in temperature will be at high altitudes with longer winter-free seasons. Moreover, warmer temperatures will be beneficial to the livestock due to less nutritional requirements, increased survival rates and reduction in energy consumption. Furthermore, it would improve soils through enhanced carbon sequestration, thereby reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. These changes in climate have led to changes in the rainfall patterns, shift in hydrological patterns as well as the reduction in sea coverage.
Climate Change and Natural Disasters
Canada currently experiences extreme events such as natural disasters. The economic losses connected with natural events such as hailstorms, hurricanes and wild fires totaled billions of dollars in an effort to control them. For instance, the Canadian government employed a lot of resources toward the control of Saguenay flood and the 2001/2002 national drought 1. The damage to forest biodiversity is also significant. Moreover, climate change has had impacts on the public health and safety due to the increase in waterborne diseases and the long-term effects of climate change on traditional cultural practices. In addition, the hydrological changes in the lakes and streams have adversely affected fresh water, tourism, recreation as well as transport infrastructures. On the other hand, global warming in the United States has led to sea rise at the coastal regions, posing a risk of flooding along the gulf coast, Atlantic, and several parts of Alaska. The rising temperature is increasing ocean levels due to melting ice, shift in animals’ habitats and severe reduction in the glacier sizes. Furthermore, extreme weather impacts such as drought are increasing in the southwest regions of the United States.
Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity
Climate change has had impacts on the United States forests. Due to an increase in human activities such as fossil fuel combustion, use of fertilizers and deforestation, it has led to the elevation of the greenhouse gases. It has also triggered the hydrological changes which have affected the aquatic life as well as native fauna in forests that is endangered. Due to the changes, there have been incidences of invasive pests and diseases within the American forests. America has also observed major changes in precipitation patterns with increasing frequency of rainfall in the North America region. Future projections of the United States temperature and precipitation patterns indicate that there will be a progressive increase in climatic changes. The projections indicate that in the present century, there is expected an increase in temperature in the arctic and central regions of the country, especially along the west and eastern coastline.
Possible Adaptations to Climate Change in the United States and Canada
Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Industries
A considerable number of industries in Canada have been the major sources of pollution. Canadian economy is also dominated by the increasing number of service industries that has led to increase in pollution. The population is urban, and it is expected to increase in the future. It is worth noting that climate shapes and controls the fundamental living conditions of all the living creatures. It controls the supply of food, forest ecosystems, precipitation cycle, the level of pollutants, and air, among others. Apparently, small changes in climate have a major ripple effect on biodiversity, thereby affecting the livelihood of different communities. On the other hand, the United States is one of the countries that emits greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, with the second highest record in 2009 2. It yields approximately 18% of the entire atmospheric substances. The increase in heat and humidity will negatively impact on mortality rates as it is projected to increase the likelihood of heat-related mortalities. In fact, the United States was one of the mostly affected countries in 2012 by climate change 3, 2. Furthermore, the American surface temperature has been on the rise since 1950 by over 1F 2.
Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Human Activities
Human activities such as deforestation, urbanization, and vehicle transportation are the major causes of climate change. Both countries have introduced adaptive measures to reduce carbon dioxide emission which is the major cause of greenhouse effect.
However, there are concerns that climate change could trigger significant negative impacts. For example, there could be an increase in drought and violent storms frequencies. Apparently, the increase in these extreme weather conditions has huge impacts on agricultural crops and livestock. For example, the extreme drought experienced between 2001 and 2002 in Canada as well as the 2010/2011 flooding had extreme negative impacts with approximately 50% reduction in yields 5. With the current global preparations of the negotiations on new global climate agreements, Canada and the United States are moving on differing directions. Thus, the United States government is becoming more aggressive in an effort to combat climate change compared to Canada.
The Impact of Temperature Increase by of 2°C & 4°C both on Canada and the United States
Climate responses in Canada have projected that Canada will continue to warm by a margin of 2 °C by the year 2020, and by approximately 4 °C by the year 2050 6. An increase in temperature by 2 °C will affect the temperatures in the arctic region that is the worst place to be affected by this increase since it will lead to a rise in precipitation by approximately 20% and double that by 2050 7. The changes in temperature will affect various regions of Canada in a different way. For instance, regions such as Winnipeg will experience an increase in winter precipitation, while regions such as Montreal will experience lighter winters. An increase in temperature will also affect the fresh water sources due to the rise in evaporation which will make the already scarce water resource even more inaccessible. For instance, drier summers projected in regions such as Ontario will reduce the level of Great Lakes’, thereby making it impossible for the ever increasing community population to use water.
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Since 1948, Canada has warmed by approximately 1.3 degrees, which is about twice the average global warming rate 3. Most regions have experienced warming except for the eastern arctic region that has faced cooling trend since 1990 8. It is worth noting that the increase in temperature has been variable during the spring and winter months. In addition, the changes in precipitation and temperature have affected the sea ice, permafrost, sea levels and snow coverage. There was a general increase in snow cover in the arctic region. However, the increase in temperature led to higher humidity that led to higher rainfalls. Furthermore, there is also an increase in permafrost temperature in Canadian high Arctic regions.
An increase in temperature by 2°C in the United States implies an increase in extreme heat conditions such as heat waves, melting glacial ice and changes in the aquatic life. For every 2°C increase in temperature, there is a high likelihood of 15% decrease in the arctic sea. Thus, 4°C increase will lead to approximately 30% decrease in the arctic sea. Consequently, the coastline is expected to rise due to melting of oceanic ice which could lead to the formation of ice sheets. Moreover, it implies a big change in the ecosystem with the invasion of new species in different areas. According to climate modeling projections, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions will adversely affect summertime temperatures in the United States, which is currently ranked among the hottest globally. Furthermore, the increase in temperature will affect precipitation patterns, with expected changes in snowfall and rain. Some of the regions will likely experience more precipitation changes than the others. For example, the northern areas will presumably become wetter during spring and winter. The intensity of the Atlantic hurricanes is likely to increase due to the warm ocean currents. In addition, an increase in ocean temperatures can have negative impacts on the aquatic life that could eventually lead to the extinction of some of the species. For instance, if temperatures continue to increase, the growth of corals will decelerate by approximately 50%, by 2050 6.
Mitigating Climate Change in Canada and the United States
To effectively mitigate climate change, the emission of greenhouse gases needs to be controlled. In fact, the mitigating efforts include the use of the recent technologies, increase in the use and production of renewable energy and change of management practices. Moreover, the protection of the natural forests and oceans could aid in the mitigation of climate change 7. Apparently, the American government is working hard to insure that the causing factors of climate change are addressed. For instance, the government pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions of approximately 17 percent by 2020 8. The government has passed legislations such as greenhouse gas regulations that falls under the Clean Air Act. In such a way, the government has put efforts into efficient energy sourcing and using renewable energy. Some states such as California have switched to the use of clean energy and other low-carbon energy sources such as wind power as well as hydroelectric and solar energy in an effort to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
Control of carbon emissions is one of the major mitigating factors in climate change adopted by Canada. There is growing international force to control carbon emissions, while most countries are encouraged to find other alternative ways that will also be beneficial to the low-income countries. To mitigate the effects of climate change on fresh water sources, the government of Canada needs to take measures to protect, conserve and restore the natural drainage systems. Thus, it should focus on the implementation of relevant changes of human water consumption to insure availability of quality water for the community despite the changing climatic conditions. In addition, to curb the effects of climate change on agriculture, the government of Canada needs to provide the necessary information on climate change so that it is incorporated in the planning decisions and development of recommendations specific for the agricultural industry.
Canada’s climate is progressively changing, and the projections indicate similar future trends. The gradual shift in temperature and the precipitation patterns will be observed in different regions with impacts of different degrees. The changes will progressively lead to a decrease in the socio-economic dynamics of the country, thereby ending with the net impacts. The differences between Canada and the United States are seen in the ability to handle and implement policies meant to reduce the vulnerability of different species. Globally, there is increasing recognition of the role played by the third world countries in the determination of the success of climate change policies. Most governments in developing countries have realized the need to adjust the climate change policies to their sustainable developmental plans. However, due to poverty in marginalized communities, climate changes pose a bigger risk to the poor communities both through physical impacts and slow policy responses.