Global warming's not so hot

By Donna Marrin

Ah, that glorious summer weather we enjoyed on Good Friday… I took full advantage with a hike in breathtaking Awenda Provincial Park near Midland, Ontario. As I stood barefoot in the sand on the Georgian Bay shore, I marveled at the fact that it was only the second day of April (There should still be snow on the ground! Ice on the lake!), and here I was in a t-shirt, jeans rolled up, dipping my toes into the cold but bearable water. “If this is global warming, then global warming ain’t half bad,” I announced to my spouse. Later, I punished myself for such a thought by staying inside to do some research in order to educate myself about the real impact of increasing temperatures on our environment. This is what I learned:

  1. The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990.

  2. With polar ice caps melting faster than they are able to develop, sea levels are increasing. Which means that most of our busy seaboard cities are destined to follow in the footsteps of Atlantis. So long, New York. Hello extreme population inland.

  3. Our majestic polar bears are headed for extinction. Polar bears use ice floes to travel great distances in order to be able to hunt their main food sources. With Arctic ice melting at an alarming rate, many of these creatures aren’t able to access the food supply they need to keep them fueled through their hibernation period.

  4. In the summer of 2007, the Northwest Passage was ice-free for the first time in history.

  5. Global warming puts marine life as we know it in peril. Increasing water temperatures create ‘reef bleaching’—a process that causes algae to die. No more algae means no more coral. No more coral means extinction for many marine species.

  6. Increasing weather extremes—a byproduct of climate change—bring on natural disasters such as tornadoes, heat waves, droughts and floods, and we pay dearly with loss of life and property.

  7. Over Alberta’s mountain ranges, the glaciers and snowpacks that serve as ‘water towers’ for the Prairies are receding. Prairie water levels in ponds, lakes and dugouts are shrinking, which will eventually lead to less water for irrigating crops and maintaining livestock and drinking water in rural regions.

  8. Water levels in our Great Lakes are receding more each year and this process will accelerate as we evolve into a hotter, drier climate.

  9. Heat waves generate more smog in our breathing air, which results in more temperature-related illnesses and deaths. Infectious diseases such as malaria‚ dengue and yellow fever could work their way northward as insects carrying these diseases migrate with the warming climate.

  10. Expect more frequent and larger avalanches in our western mountain parks as temperatures increase.

  11. Warmer spring and fall temperatures will extend the melting season of glaciers by at least a month in the southern Rocky Mountains. Glaciers less than 100m thick could disappear over the next 20 years.

  12. Migratory birds are extremely vulnerable to climate change effects, since they depend on a variety of habitats and sites. A large numbers of birds could be at risk of extinction.

  13. In the past few decades, 125 Arctic lakes have vanished, due to the thawing of permafrost. When this deep, normally permanently frozen ground thaws, lake water seeps away into the soil, draining the lake. As these lakes disappear, so do the ecosystems they support.

  14. Imagine no more maple syrup? Maple syrup production requires specific conditions for tapping sugar maples for their sap: freezing nights and warm days. Traditionally, maple syrup season lasts for about a month. Research from the University of Vermont shows that compared to the 1970s, the average modern extraction season starts a week earlier, but ends 10 days earlier and so is three days shorter. And could continue to shorten over time.

I hate to rain on the sunshine parade, but there you have it. I do believe that any steps we take to help protect our environment, no matter how small, are steps in the right direction.

What’s your opinion?

Donna Marrin is a freelance Senior Writer/Editor specializing in corporate communications and advertising. She also founded and runs the Markham Village Writers. You can visit their website at

By Adam

April 22, 2010