Climate Change Discussion Articles

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Taken from the Associated Press

For those who often feel frustrated trying to articulate the reality of climate change and the scientific evidence, here are four articles that I think prove useful:

Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/#.WEXT5S7qByE.twitter

 

Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002

 

The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science http://go.nature.com/gszHdq

BBC News – Earth warming to climate tipping point, warns study http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38146248

I have found them useful in terms of engaging folks in meaningful conversations. They will not prove useful in Twitter fights. I really think the third piece from Nature is critical in terms of hope. The article suggests that the more we speak truth to power, the more the public gets onside with science.

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CdnPoli DoNow: Ratifying Climate Deal

Saturday April 23, 2016

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday April 23, 2016 

In November 2015, the Federal Government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, signed the Paris Climate Change agreement, whereby Canada, amongst other countries,pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent that global temperature increases could be kept under two degrees.

You can check out this TED talk by Johan Rockstrom to get a clear understanding of the impending ecological crisis:

Johan Rockström Planetary Boundaries from john on Vimeo.

In this Globe and Mail article, the premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, expressed concern that the provinces, members of the federation of Canada, have not been consulted.

Here is a Liberal MP speaking with the CBC about the need to ratify the Paris Agreement.

Using some of your new parliamentary literacy, answer the following question: Should Canada consult with the provinces before ratifying the Paris agreement and should Canada be doing more in terms of reducing emissions?

Answer using the comment section below or Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and/or other social media. Be sure to use the hashtag #cdnpoliDoNow. Be sure to use evidence from the sources provided and from your own research to support your claims.


 

For those keeping track of outcomes for your portfolio, here are some you may wish to address and provide evidence for:

Grade 9

Social Studies

  • Give examples of ways in which government affects their daily lives. Examples: rights and freedoms, security, laws, education, health care, services…
  • Describe Canadian parliamentary democracy. Include: constitutional monarchy, federalism, Governor General, Prime Minister, Cabinet, House of Commons, Senate.
  • Describe the responsibilities and processes of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government.
  • Be sensitive to the impact of majority rule on minorities and marginalized groups.
  • Evaluate Canadian perspectives regarding current global issues.
  • Give examples of Canada’s participation within international organizations. Examples: United Nations, Commonwealth, la Francophonie, Olympics…
  • Evaluate implications of living in a consumer-based economy.

Science

  • Develop a formula for domestic power consumption costs, and solve related problems.

ELA

  • question and reflect on personal responses, predictions, and interpretations; apply personal viewpoints to diverse situations or circumstances
  • acknowledge the value of others’ ideas and opinions in exploring and extending personal interpretations and viewpoints
  • analyze and explain connections between previous experiences, prior knowledge, and a variety of texts [including books]
  • obtain information and varied perspectives when inquiring or researching using a range of information sources [such as expository essays, books, radio and television transcripts, charts, tables, graphs, diagrams…]

ICT

  • Discuss information, ideas, and/or electronic work using tools for electronic communication. (Examples: email, electronic whiteboards, web pages, threaded discussions, videoconferences, chats, instant messages, camera phones, wikis, blogs, podcasts, online whiteboards…)

 

Grade 10

Geography

  • Draw conclusions and make decisions based on research and various types of evidence.

    Explain the importance of stewardship in the preservation of the Earth’s complex environment.

    Respect the Earth as a complex environment in which humans have important responsibilities.

    Describe sustainability issues related to natural resource extraction and consumption.

 

Climate Change Staring us in the Face

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Photo from Globe and Mail. Photo by John Raedle.

Well, it happened. Following 70 years or so of scientists (I generally think of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring as a beginning point in this conversation in the West) telling us that human activity is inflicting catastrophic damage on all systems on this planet, mainstream media, whether consciously or unconsciously, has started to report regularly our relationship with our home.

On Friday June 17th and Saturday, June 18th, the Globe and Mail, perhaps because the earth is in revolt and stories of destruction are so prevalent and ubiquitous, seemed to devote most of its reporting to ecological issues. Here is a sampling:

Earthquakes Shake Alberta Town’s Faith in Fracking

Come Hell or High Water: The Disaster Scenario that is South Florida

Preparing Cities for Changing Climate – Before it’s too Late

There was also an interactive game included on the web version of the Globe and Mail on how to prevent a city from succumbing to the effects of climate change: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/can-you-future-proof-a-city-play-game/article25560486/?from=25552300

Crop Expert Norm Hall on how Drought is Hurting Prairie Farmers

Saskatchewan Wildfire Evacuees Anxious for All-clear to Return Home

All of these articles and associated catastrophes came at the same time that Canada’s Premiers, government leaders of our ten provinces, wrapped up meetings concerning energy and the environment. While there was some recognition that externalities, like greenhouse gases, need to be regulated, accounted, and diminished, most of the talk was about how to export Canada’s nonrenewable energy and generate revenue.

The House on CBC had extensive interviews with various premiers: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thehouse/premiers-clash-leads-to-unprecedented-energy-agreement-1.3154480/rachel-notley-seeks-balance-between-economy-environment-1.3154493

And then a pipeline, owned by Chinese-owned Nexen, spilled 31, 500 barrels of bitumen essentially into a tributary of the Athabasca River on Treaty land: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/nexen-says-crews-working-around-the-clock-at-spill-site/article25549619/


And yet the conversation we have at the school level, the school board level, and perhaps in wider educational circles, rarely reflects the need for ecologically literate citizens. in 2015, we are still confounded and confined by discussions advocating for 21st Century skills, better math skills to keep up with Singapore, and/or fictitious notions of “grit.”

Ecological literacy will become the new pedagogical push in the 21st century, it’s just a matter of when. It is comforting that both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg faculties of education offer courses in sustainability to future and current teachers, and it is further encouraging that more and more students are volunteering to take these courses. 

Despite this flicker of light, the conversations, literature, and practice in the classroom does not focus on sustaining and protecting the very thing that sustains all life — the biosphere. At what point to we, as educators, begin to shift our focus from outcomes of the past to outcomes of survival, justice, and equity? On what side of history do educators want to be on?

My hope is that this latest publication of the Globe and Mail will push public discussion, both within and outside of the realm of education. I hope it pushes us to understand that short-sighted mission statements, empty five-year plans, and our propensity to give lip-service to forces like ecological literacy are tiresome and destructive. Action is required, now. As teachers, let’s make ecological literacy the new imperative in 21st century learning and stand up to those who would roll their eyes or scoff.