GEOG 346: Day 2 RESEARCH, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER SECURITY Housekeeping Items • Today, Kathleen Reed will give us a talk on resources available • • • • • through the VIU Library that are relevant to the major assignment. 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 mitigation: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/poznan-COP14/diane-urge-vorsatz.pdf 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 http://www.fcm.ca/home/programs/partners-for-climate-protection.htm. 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 Calthorpe]. 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 environments? 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 Detroit?”). So, if cities are a big part of the problem, they can also be a big part of the solution! Earthworks Urban Farm, Detroit: www.cskdetroit.org/EWG/ 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 dwellings. 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 conditions.” 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 security 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 impacts Disputes between states, already concerned over electric power and water-sharing 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 permafrost Impacts on great rivers of Asia: Yangtze-Brahmaputra-Ganges-Huang Ho-Indus-Mekong-Salween 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 communities? 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 flooding? What is doing be done elsewhere more specifically in this regard?