Environment 2020: Canada’s Key Environmental Challenge and My Initiatives in the first 100 days
8th Feb 2015
As the second largest country in the world, Canada is indeed blessed with an abundance of natural resources and lush greenery especially in the summer. Several countries are today facing numerous challenges with climate change, pollution and rapid urbanization. With a population of only 30 million, Canada still has scope to expand its population and the country’s immigration policy is unlikely to change for quite some time. Having lived in small rural neighborhood, I have also witnessed first-hand how urbanization or the encroachment of cities/towns into the rural landscape could have a devastating effects on the region’s air quality, flora, fauna and climate. Unfortunately, the ongoing economic/financial crisis does not provide us the luxury to reallocate resources from other national priorities towards any large-scale technology-driven environmental projects. It would therefore be prudent to rethink some Canada’s longer-term environmental policies and priorities that are cost effective and sustainable.
I have chose reforestation because urbanization is inevitable, reforestation can have a significant long-term impact on climate and air quality and it can also be carried out at minimal cost.
The typical activities that take place when cities or towns are expanding involves developers simply clearing up the land of it vegetation and then building houses, roads and drainage systems. Close to these major housing centers the land is typically zoned to support schools, fire station and various other shopping and food amenities. This current model of the urban landscape development largely includes allocating large space for open car parks and buildings that are often completely devoid of any natural vegetation like trees or green plants. The flora and fauna that originally existed in that area also gets permanently changed and the neighborhood also progressively feels warmer especially during the summer months. Overtime the air quality in that area also begins to deteriorate.
Deforestation to support expansion of cities, human activities or population growth has seriously affected the world eco-system prompting United Nations to declare 2011 as the ‘International Year of the Forest’ (Sumit Chakravarty, 2012). There is extensive scientific evidence to support the notion that one of main reason why the planet is getting warmer is due to the widespread deforestation (Laboratories, 2013) and destruction to the natural relief. Changes in land cover is know to affect the heat and moist balance and therefore the rainfall patterns and surface temperature. As trees or green plants also fix carbon dioxide into cellulose and carbohydrates, and give out oxygen, they directly helpful in reducing the effect of greenhouse gases and improve the air quality.
While scientific research supports the notion that deforestation negative impacts the climate and rainfall (Spracklen D, 2008), I think we could also solicit such data from the Statistic Canada or various Conversation Authorities, like Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, that regularly collect data on the water quality, atmospheric temperature and the changes in the thermocline of the numerous watersheds. We will also be able to measure the rate of deforestation by estimating the number of trees in any area before and after redevelopment. This can be achieved by collecting data on what is the current policy on replanting of tree in various housing and various zoning areas.
It is well-established fact that green plants play a significant role in maintaining a healthy atmosphere by fixing carbon dioxide into cellulose of carbohydrates and releasing oxygen. By fixing carbon dioxide, not only do plants clean up the atmosphere of carbon dioxide but they also produces food that ultimately helps to sustain