Many thanks to Jan Conradi, Ph.D., for presenting a comprehensive overview of climate change issues at our May 5, 2021 meeting! Since retirement in 2002, Jan has immersed himself in climate change science.
Briefly, a synopsis of Jan’s thorough coverage of the climate change topic follows:
Jan started with a concise summary of the science behind the earth’s warming trend and its effects. Consequences of even the lowest projected temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius include warming oceans affecting sea life, droughts on land affecting food security, and degradation of human health due to infectious diseases, air pollution, and heat stress.
Of the many emitters of carbon dioxide, an important culprit is power generation – for example burning coal, oil, and natural gas for energy production. Canada’s emissions originate primarily from the oil and gas sector, followed by the transportation sector.
Solutions to the problem include the use of renewable energy (wind, solar, etc.) for energy production and the use of electric vehicles for transportation, government regulations (i.e., carbon tax), carbon capture, and education of women (to reduce fertility rates).
Encouragingly, energy sector adoption of technical solutions is progressing at a rapid rate. Photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and battery storage units are increasing in efficacy and decreasing in price, enabling these technologies to compete with traditional fossil fuel energy sources.
Notably, while some geographic areas, such as the European Union, have embraced the need for change and have indeed reduced their emissions, Canada continues to increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Commerce may be leading the way, with changes occurring in investment banking (requiring sustainability plans from companies); auto industry (switching to all electric vehicle lines); and energy storage (with battery capacity increasing and costs decreasing).
During the question and answer period, the questions of non-fossil fuel sources such as nuclear energy or hydroelectric power were discussed. Also, the thorny issue of ensuring long-term government commitment to clean energy was raised. One suggestion was to start at the (more accessible) regional district level.
Once again, many thanks to Jan Conradi for a cogent and thought-provoking presentation!