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GEOG 346: Day 2
Housekeeping Items
• Today, Kathleen Reed will give us a talk on resources available
through the VIU Library that are relevant to the major
The slides from Tuesday are up.
We will also spend some time beginning to identify who wants to
lead which field trips.
Time permitting, we will also talk a bit about climate change and
water security.
Another issue that I forgot to mention on Tuesday was how
different groups get segregated from one another – e.g. age, race,
class, sexual orientation, and even gender.
I may be gone for part of next week because of a family
emergency, but I will try to ensure that this course is covered.
Characteristics of an Ecocity (from Ecocity Builders)
Climate Change and What Can Be Done About It
 As the presentation by the IPCC points out, the building
sector is an area of huge importance for greenhouse gas
 In Canada, following the lead of the International Council
for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), the
Federation of Canadian Municipalities has initiated the
Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) Program. It involves
5 ‘milestones’:
 creating a greenhouse gas inventory and forecast;
 Setting an emissions reduction target;
 Developing a local action plan;
 Implementing the local plan or set of activities;
 Monitoring progress and reporting results.
 For e.g.s of municipal initiatives, see
Climate Change and What Can Be Done About It
 Over 240 communities in Canada that have undertaken the
program, and two of the most ambitious advanced are the City
of North Vancouver and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
Both have completed all five steps.
 Internationally, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, parts of
Germany, and Curitiba in Brazil are in the vanguard of
tackling greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), often ahead of
their respective national governments.
Climate Change and What Can Be Done About It
 Despite national government inaction, some cities are
taking action. The U.S. refused to sign Kyoto. As of six years
ago, 500 U.S. cities, led by Seattle, agreed to support it and
to implement its provisions to the extent they could.
 In Europe, cities are doing much more, as we will see [see
also the book on Post-Carbon Cities by Daniel Lerch and
Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change by Peter
Greg Nickles, former
mayor of Seattle
Why Are Cities So Central?
• According to Condon, cities are responsible for 80% of
GHGs – “by the way we build and arrange our cities, by all
the stuff we put in them, [and] by how we move from one
building to the next.”
• After World War II, Canadian and American federal
governments encouraged sprawl through a number of
mechanisms: guaranteed mortgages, tax deductions on
mortgage interest, freeway construction, and ‘red-lining’ of
certain neighbourhoods.
• In addition, the inefficient creation of infrastructure to
service sprawled subdivisions (water, sewer, roads, police,
fire, community centres, schools, etc.) has been subsidized
by the taxpayer.
Why Are Cities So Central?
• In addition to the added cost, there is also the embodied energy
associated with such infrastructure which has ecological impacts.
Embodied energy, as defined by Wikipedia, is “the sum of all the
energy required to produce goods or services, considered as if that
energy was incorporated or 'embodied' in the product itself.”
• Sprawl led to a drop in urban population densities in Canada from
6803 per square mile in 1960 to 4000 in 2006.Meanwhile Boston
grew from 345 square miles in 1950 to 1736 in 2000, a five-fold
increase in size.
Why Are Cities So Central?
 How many of you grew up in the
suburbs? Why did your parents move
there? What is your evaluation of the
strengths and weaknesses of suburban
 House prices are cheaper, but there are
added transport costs (partly
subsidized) and the already mentioned
ecological impacts from infrastructure
and additional driving.
 In addition, sprawl has facilitated
segregation by class, income, race and
ethnicity – though more so in the U.S.
in Canada. It has also facilitated the
‘hollowing out’ of central cities.
Abandoned house in Detroit
Why Are Cities So Central?
 East St Louis has lost over
50% of its population and
Detroit has lost 61%. Much of
the city, which was once a
vibrant metropolis, is now a
wasteland being re-colonized
by artists and other intrepid
types (see “Requiem for
 So, if cities are a big part of
the problem, they can also be
a big part of the solution!
Earthworks Urban Farm, Detroit:
Why Are Cities So Central?
 Land use patterns and
transportation (automobile
dependence) are inextricably
linked. From 1997 to 2010,
Canada’s vehicle emissions
increased by 35%. The least
automobile dependent major
city in Canada is Montreal,
and there only 4% of all
houses are single-family
 In addition to direct production of GHGs by cars, there is
the contribution made by
related manufacturing and
infrastructure, which Condon
estimates as 40% of the total
of all GHGs.
Climate Change and Water Security
 Map: Details from a map showing the impact of a global
temperature rise of 4ºC (source: Lopez-Gunn, 2009)
Climate Change Impacts
 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
says that, even with an 80% cut in GHG emissions, we
will see a 2°Celsius increase in global temperatures. That
will likely result in a loss of 50% of all species, not to
mention other dire environmental consequences.
 And yet, as evidenced by the recent Warsaw round of
climate talks, we are seeing no robust action on climate
change. Indeed, Canada has become one of the biggest
obstructionist nations on the planet. Al Gore has some
pointed metaphors about the current exploitation of the
tar sands.
Objective re Adapting to Change, City of Richmond, BC: “Build a community that is
adaptable and resilient to impacts from climate change and other changing
With a two-metre rise in sea level and no new dikes (left), Vancouver will lose land in
Southlands. With a seven-metre rise (right), downtown and Stanley Park could become
islands. Bing Thom Architects maps (Source: Georgia Straight)
Climate Change and Water Security
Examples of climate security potentially threatening human
 Possible abrupt change of Asian monsoon to a substantially drier state
 Potential loss of water storage capacity in Himalayan glaciers
 Reduced water availability in the Indo-Gangetic plain
 Increased numbers of forced migrants as a result of severe climate
 Disputes between states, already concerned over electric power and
 Hydroelectricity becoming less reliable, potential knock-on effect on the
economy and loss of hydro-electric power schemes
 Loss of summer meltwater from the Hindu Kush/Himalayan/Tibet
glaciers that 22% of global population rely on; damage to Tibetan
 Impacts on great rivers of Asia: Yangtze-Brahmaputra-Ganges-Huang
 Flooding as glacial dams burst
Climate Change and Water Security
 For some urban regions much more than others, climate change will pose
challenges in terms of maintaining adequate supplies of water. Los Angeles, for
instance, already gets its water from hundreds of miles away.
 Spanish analyst, Elena Lopez-Gunn, notes the water security issues raised by
climate change:
Climate change and water -- Direct and Indirect effects of climate
variability and change
 Unpredictable changes in water availability
 Flood magnitude and flooding impacts
 Sea-level rise
 Probability of extreme storms
 Changes in rainfall intensity, duration and frequency
 Impact on yield of water resources
 Probability and duration of droughts
 Saline water intrusion into reservoirs/aquifers
 Coastal land loss due to erosion and submergence
 Impact on drainage network system
 Snow melt, impact on glaciers
Climate Change and Water Security
 What threats are potentially facing BC
 What can be done by cities, regions, and
the institutions within them to reduce the
production of greenhouse gases and to
reduce the threat of water shortages and
 What is doing be done elsewhere more
specifically in this regard?