The Embassy of Canada has partnered with Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, a Crown corporation that oversees three national museums including the Canada Science and Technology Museum, to present Climate Change is Here, a visual display based on the striking imagery of the award-winning National Geographic Magazine. Developed in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, this photographic exhibition also takes a special look at Canadian technologies developed to help fight climate change.
As the title suggests, climate change is not decades or years away. It is a critical issue impacting the entire planet today. Canada’s environment, animals, and communities are feeling its effects; the country’s rate of warming is about twice that of the rest of the world, which is having tremendous repercussions for its ecosystem, as illustrated in the panels in this exhibition.
The Government of Canada is committed to combatting climate change, mitigating the threats posed by it, and supporting communities to adapt, now and into the future.
Thank you for visiting this exhibition. We hope that you will learn more about the real and present dangers posed by climate change, and discover how Canada is working in partnership with others to tackle them.
More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and that number is rising. Powering these areas accounts for more than 70% of global C02 emissions. Urban areas are particularly vulnerable to the flooding and higher temperatures caused by climate change.
In February 2015, waves washed away this bulwark and rolled inland, leaving behind flooded homes, salty soil, and tainted wells. Climate change leads to rising sea levels as warmer temperature cause glaciers to melt and water to expand Sea levels are predicted to rise by about 5 centimeters per decade over the next 100 years.
Climate change is caused by increased greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, trapping heat and raising global temperatures. Human activity generates large quantities of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide that results from burning fossil fuels. Scientific evidence shows that the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) in the mid-1880s to more than 400 ppm today
Germany is at the same latitude as Labrador, Canada, but has installed more solar capacity than any other country. While issues related to intermittency and storage remain key challenges, solar photovoltaic energy is among the fastest-growing sources of electricity in Canada and around the world. Currently accounting for less than 2% of global electric generation, solar has huge potential for further development.
Thawing Permafrost Darker than the surrounding Canadian tundra, ponds absorb more heat from the sun, amplify their own melting, and over time thread together into beaded streams. As the Earth warms, its vast frozen lands are being transformed—and we are only starting to grasp the consequences.
Permafrost is ground that remains at or below 0°C for two or more years. Most of the world’s permafrost has been frozen for millennia, trapping massive amounts of carbon in organic material. As this organic material thaws and decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere, further contributing to climate change.
Melting Away Albert Lukassen’s world is melting around him. When the 64-year-old Inuit man was young, he could hunt by dog-sled on the frozen Uummannaq Fjord, on Greenland’s west coast, until June. This photo shows him there in April 2015.
Canada is warming at about twice the global rate because climate change has a greater impact on northern latitudes. A 2°C global increase means a 3 to 4°C increase for Canada.
Habitat Loss Its image mirrored in icy water, a polar bear travels submerged—a tactic often used to surprise prey. Scientists fear global warming could drive bears and many other species to extinction later this century.
Climates are constantly in flux, but Earth’s climate is now changing so quickly that it is altering environments faster than many species can adapt.
Energy and Development Ibrahim Kalungi and Godfrey Mteza, both 20, work at night in their motorcycle repair shop in Nbeeda Uganda. The mechanics credit solar lights with enabling them to work longer hours and earn more money.
About 1.1 billion people world-wide have no reliable access to electricity, which creates barriers to health literacy, and nutrition. New electrical technologies can provide solutions to energy-poor nations, while bypassing heavily polluting fuels.
Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity. In 2014, global wind energy capacity grew by 44%, making it more than 3% of global electrical production. Today, there are wind turbines operating in more than 90 countries worldwide.
Canada’s hydroelectric stations account for 63% of the country’s total electrical generation. Canada is the third largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world, and a global leader in low-carbon electricity production.
Challenge: For the foreseeable future, the world will continue to use fossil fuels. Innovations in the extraction shipping, and upgrading of fossil fuels are needed to improve efficiency and reduce energy use.
Innovation: Directional drilling reduces the environmental footprint in Canada’s oil sands. MEG Energy is developing a technology that moves bitumen, a thick oil from the oil sands, through pipelines more easily. This reduces the energy and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20%.
Challenge: Transportation accounts for nearly 25% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. To achieve the emissions cuts necessary to avoid a 2°C increase by 2050, transportation must play a significant role.
Innovation: Effenco’s Active Stop-Start system automatically shuts down the engine of a truck or bus when it’s stationary, and restarts on demand, saving fuel, and reducing CO2 emissions.
Challenge: The concrete industry is a significant producer of CO2, generating up to 5% of global emissions. New technologies are needed that offer the advantages of concrete, while reducing its carbon footprint.
Innovation: CarbonCure’s technology permanently stores CO2 in their concrete as solid limestone. This
reduces the carbon footprint, creating affordable, greener, and stronger concrete products.
Monitoring Climate Change A team works above the clouds, on Digges Island, Nunavut, to deploy tracking devices on thick-billed murres. The devices allow scientists to study the birds’ foraging behaviour in relation to ice, weather, and changing oceans—all of which are affected by climate change.
Scientists with Environment and Climate Change Canada provide essential information about Canadian
ecosystems. This knowledge increases the understanding of the effects of climate change, and helps people make informed decisions on how to address it.
Research and Adaptation Fire ravages a boreal forest in Northern Ontario. Researchers with Natural Resources Canada study the effects of higher temperatures on the developmental stages of tree species.
Climate change leads to longer growing seasons for trees, but may also increase the risk of fire, drought, and insect infestations in Canada’s forests. Monitoring recurrent events such as budburst in the spring help predict the potential effects of climate change.
The empire of ice at the top of the world is shrinking. The Arctic Ocean’s summer ice pack covers little more than half its former reach, as a sweeping satellite image from September 2008 documents. Atop Greenland’s formidable ice sheet, melting has also quickened. Sea ice, naturally expanding and contracting with the seasons, has covered this ocean year-round for most of the past three million years. But the Arctic is uniquely sensitive to climate change. Ten years ago, global-warming models predicted the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in the summer by 2100. Then the date dropped to 2050, and now to 2030—or sooner. As climate scientist Mark Serreze puts it, “Reality is exceeding expectations.”
“The Government of Canada is determined to deliver real results on climate change and the environment. We are working with our provincial, territorial and international partners to foster sustainable growth for a cleaner, stronger Canada.”
Department of Environment and Climate Change
“The Government of Canada recognizes the economic importance of developing our country’s energy and natural resource sectors in a responsible and sustainable way. As Canada transitions to a low-carbon
economy, it is imperative that all levels of government — and industry — think big and work together to achieve results.”
Department of Natural Resources
Produced in partnership with National Geographic Society and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Additional photos and content provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Sustainable Development Technologies Canada.