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Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at RiskThe Regionspacer
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Confront the Challenge
• Climate in the Region
• The Report
• Technical Background
• For Teachers

Explore the Impacts
• Overview
• Migrating Climates
• Water Resources
• Sense of Place

Discover the Solutions
• Overview
• Solutions where we Live
• Reducing our Emissions
• Managing our Response
• Ten Personal Solutions

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Climate Change in Ontario
White Trilliun
Introduction
Climate Projections
Agriculture
Forests & Wildlife
Human Health
Lakes, Streams, & Fish
Property and Infrastructure
Recreation & Tourism
Water Supply & Pollution
Wetlands & Shorebirds
Climate Solutions
Resources & Links

Climate Change Solutions
Climate change is occurring mainly as a result of humans adding large amounts of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, to the atmosphere. The good news is that practical solutions exist today to address this growing problem, and people in Ontario can help in many ways. Although some warming is inevitable—as past heat-trapping gas emissions will continue to have a warming effect for decades—the most extreme outcomes for Ontario can be avoided if responsible measures are taken locally, nationally, and internationally.

Three complementary approaches are needed to address the challenges that a changing climate poses to Ontario:

Reduce heat-trapping emissions in Ontario
Between 1990 and 2000, Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions grew 14 percent. The key areas of growth were in electricity production, transportation, and buildings. To reduce these emissions will require changing building and community design, replacing coal-fired electricity with renewable energy, efficiency and conservation and curbing the growth of energy use in the transportation sector. More than 20 municipalities in Ontario have already pledged to reduce emissions throughout their communities by participating in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)'s "Cities for Climate Protection Campaign."

Other sectors can also provide solutions to reducing emissions, for instance Ontario's City of Welland Landfill Gas Recovery Program currently collects and destroys more than 100,000 tons of methane per year-the equivalent of taking 560,000 cars of the road. The city of Toronto has implemented a number of programs to conserve energy allowing the city to acheive emission reductions of 67 percent below 1990 levels and providing over $10 million (Cdn) in annual savings. More information about these programs and other solutions are available in Reducing Heat-Trapping Emissions in Ontario.

For Additional Information from UCS, see
UCS Clean Energy Program
UCS Clean Vehicles Program
State Clean Energy Maps and Graphs
Renewable Energy and Agriculture: A Natural Fit
Clean Energy Blueprint Benefits Farmers and Rural Economies

Minimize human pressures on the environment
Reducing or minimizing human pressures on the environment often results in long-term economic benefits that outweigh the initial cost. Moreover, reducing or minimizing pressures from land use, pollution, and other disturbances on the environment takes away some of the stresses that make ecosystems more vulnerable to climate change. Thus, while we and the environment benefit immediately from reducing these pressures, protective measures are indispensible in helping ecosystems and people become more resilient in the face of climate change. These benefits include flood protection, human health benefits from water and air purification, improved agricultural and forestry productivity, water supply security, safeguarding of habitat for native plants and animals, aesthetic benefits, and recreational opportunities. The following are key strategies for reducing human stresses:

  • Air Quality Improvements
  • Water Quality Protection and Demand/Supply Management
  • Urban and Land Use Planning
  • Habitat Protection and Restoration

To learn more about each of these options, see:
Managing our Response, or download
Minimizing Human Pressures on the Environment.

Plan for the impacts of climate change
Although there are many steps we can take to reduce the severity of climate change, some changes are already underway and will continue for decades or more. Therefore, society must begin planning and preparing to manage future impacts that cannot be avoided. Such actions include: protecting wetlands—which provide key flood control services and improve local water quality; examining adaption options in the local fisheries, agricultural and forestry practices, as well as improvements in the health care system to accommodate changes in the climate and environment.

Changes in climate variability and weather extremes will need to be taken into consideration when implementing emergency management plans, zoning, and building codes. Resources will be needed to provide increased relief from the heat to the very young, the poor, and those whose health is already compromised. Such measures are particularly important in urban areas. These and other steps for planning for climate change in the Great Lakes region are highlighted in Managing the Impacts.

For a graphical overview of various solution options, please see the Solutions where we Live feature.






Photo Credits:
White Trillium -- Ohio Department of Natural Rescources, Mike Williams and Tim Daniel.
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