Continuum 2016

Continuum - Climate Change Post COP21 Paris, click logo to access the invitation

Continuum – Climate Change Post COP21 Paris, click logo to access the invitation

Last week I had the privilege of attending Continuum 2016, an International Women’s Forum Conference to discuss the scientific, social and economic impacts of Climate Change.

This Conference had a new energy. After COP21, the United Nations’ international agreements to globally reduce our dependence on fossil fuels were achieved, we needed to begin the conversations on what that new world might look like. These conversations are no longer in the category of “wouldn’t it be nice”; these conversations are realistic and relevant. We are creating a clean energy world.

The first panel discussed the science of Climate Change. Facilitated by the Honourable Louise Otis, President of the Administrative Tribunal of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Louise regularly works with the United Nations, IMF and the World Bank. Louise discussed the need for mediation between economic, social and scientific forces. You see, they are all interconnected. Her points were re-enforced by Anne-Helene Prieur-Richard, Global Hub Director, Future Earth. Anne-Helene, presented excellent linkages between our economic indicators and scientific facts.

When we review our economic progress over the past decades, we see consistent exponential economic expansion. Our real GDP, (Gross Domestic Product), FDI, Foreign Direct Investment, and world population have seen unprecedented growth. Fertilizer consumption, water usage, international travel and telecommunications/transportation infrastructure builds have all also grown exponentially.

Newton’s Third Law teaches us; For every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.

So what is the reaction of our earth? Tropical forest loss, marine fish loss, domesticated land loss have also grown exponentially.  CO2, N2O, ocean acidification, and our earth’s surface temperature  also have grown exponentially.

Jean-Pierre Savard, Oceanographer from McGill University discussed the impacts on our oceans. The good news is our oceans are absorbing the majority of the heat. The bad news is our oceans are absorbing the majority of the heat. As the oceans warm, they become more acidic. The change in pH has decreased the ocean’s ability to photosynthesize the CO2 we produce. Which means we will be growing the CO2 faster than expected.

What does this mean for us as individuals?

Our summers will be very warm and very dry.

Our winters will be filled with storms and temperatures could rise 15 degrees in Canada over the next twenty years. The storms will be extreme like the ones that we are seeing across the world. Snowmageddon and powerful rainstorms will become the norm. As I write this, I am on vacation. I am pleased to say that with a snow dump yesterday of almost 50cm, the skiing today will be awesome.

It is time to understand that we are living Newton’s Third Law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For our economic prosperity and consumerism, the earth is reacting. But the Law is constant, if we minimize our action, we can minimize the reaction.

yours in Corporate Social Responsibility,

Cara MacMillan





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