Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry
Issue 4 - Evidence, December 5, 2002
OTTAWA, Thursday, December 5, 2002
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 8:34 a.m. to examine the impact of
climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and rural communities and the potential adaptation options focusing
on primary production, practices, technologies, ecosystems and other related areas.
Senator Donald H. Oliver (Chairman) in the Chair
The Chairman: Good morning everyone. I call to order this fifth meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry. We continue our study on the impact of climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and
rural communities and the potential adaptation options.
Today we begin a new series of witnesses focussing on the regional impact of climate change and how each area is
adapting to their new reality. For the next three meetings or so. we have invited regional representatives who are part
of the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research Network. This is a national network that facilitates the
generation of new climate change knowledge by bringing researchers together with decision makers from industry,
governments and non-government organizations to address the issues.
Honourable senators, this morning we will hear about northern Canada and Ontario. Ms. Aynslie Ogden and Dr.
Peter Johnson will speak to us about northern Canada and Dr. David Pearson and Dr. Gerard Courtin will discuss the
region of Ontario. We will hear first from Ms. Ogden, followed by Dr. Pearson.
Ms. Aynslie Ogden, Manager, Northern Region, Canadian Climate Change Impact and Adaptation Research Network:
It is a pleasure to be here this morning to address you on the topic of the impacts of climate change in northern Canada
and also some of the issues surrounding adaptation. This issue is currently top of mind in the North, not only because
of the discussions and debates surrounding Kyoto and the media coverage but also because, back home in Whitehorse,
we have been experiencing some record-breaking temperatures over the past month. These warm temperatures have
been noticeable not only on our heating bills but also in our surrounding environments as ice has not yet formed on the
lakes and rivers around town.
There are six points that I will make in my presentation: First, in Canada's North, climate change is no longer an
abstract idea. There is strong evidence both from scientific data and local observations that climate change has had,
and is having, an impact. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that global average surface
temperature has warmed by .6-degrees over the past century. Between the 30-year period of 1961 and 1990, the Yukon
and Northwest Territories have exhibited a very clear warming trend of approximately 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which
is more than twice the global average. During this time the Nunavut Territory has warmed by about half a degree on
average except in the extreme eastern Arctic, which has cooled slightly.
Earlier this week, this graph was released by Environment Canada. It shows temperature trends from a 52-year
period, from 1948 to 2000. This new information on temperature changes shows that an even greater warming trend
has occurred. In the North, the warming has been by approximately 1 to 2.2 Celsius over this 52-year period, which
likely reflects the number of very warm years in the 1990s. Global temperatures could increase somewhere between 1.5
to 6 degrees in the next 100 years. All studies agree that, as the world warms, higher latitudes will warm sooner and to a
greater extent than low altitudes. Projections are that temperatures will increase in Canada's north by 5 to 10 Celsius
by the middle of this century, with greater changes taking place nearer to the pole. Seasonally, the greatest changes in
temperature are projected to take place during winter months. Extreme cold temperatures are expected to be less severe
and occur less often, and indeed we have seen evidence of this already in the North.
Patterns of projected climate change in the North are complicated. The North is approximately 40 per cent of
Canada's land base and is extraordinarily diverse in geography, climates and ecosystem. As a result, observations and
projections of climate change vary considerably across this region.
Many northerners are making firsthand observations of climate change, and this local knowledge is adding an
important dimension to the understanding of impacts. Long-term residents and those who spend time on the land are
seeing increasing evidence of climate change and are experiencing the effects firsthand. Experience-based ecological
knowledge is now broadly recognized as legitimate and accurate. This useful information is particularly important in
areas where scientific data collection is limited. Local observations can complement scientific information offering a
more regional, holistic and longer-term perspective on some of the changes taking place. Local knowledge can also
provide a level of regional detail that is beyond the capacity of current scientific observation. It can also identify areas
where further study may be warranted.
The projected impacts of climate change on the North are of considerable concern to residents of the North due to
the potential consequences to traditional life styles, resource development and conservation.
I would like to now introduce some of these impacts and give a broad overview of the range and magnitude of the
impacts being experienced. In the Yukon and Northwest Territories, forestry is a small but important contributor to
the economy. There is interesting growth in this sector. Operations tend to be smaller in scale than those in the south.
In the Yukon, the number of forest fires and hectares burned has been increasing since the 1960s. This trend is expected
to continue as temperatures warm and lightning storms become more frequent.
Although increases in summer precipitation are predicted, it may not be enough to offset some of warmer
temperatures that are projected. This graph shows results from a study conducted in the Mackenzie Basin. It shows
that, without changes in fire management, the number and severity of forest fires is projected to increase, and the
average number of hectares burned annually is expected to double by 2050.
Climate change will also have an impact on populations of forest pests, such as spruce bark beetle and the white pine
beetle. Spruce bark beetles killed almost all the mature white spruce, over some 200,000 hectares in Kluane National
Park in southwest Yukon between 1994 and 1999. A series of mild winters and springs provided good breeding
conditions for the beetles, which allowed them to multiply rapidly.
The distribution of white pine weevil, which attacks Jack pine and white spruce, is strongly related to temperatures.
A study in the Mackenzie Basin showed that, with increased temperatures, there will be a sufficient growing season to
allow the weevil to expand its range both northward in latitude and upward in elevation. The number of hectares in the
Mackenzie Basin that are projected to be susceptible to the white pine weevil would more than double to include all of
the forested area by 2050.
With respect to agriculture, soils and climate conditions in the North are generally unfavourable to agricultural
production. However, some areas in the Yukon have a moderate agricultural capability, and agriculture is a small but
important component of the wage economy. An increase in the growing season may enable cultivation of a wider
variety of crops and increased yields. Longer growing seasons may also increase the potential for greenhouse
production. However, the capability for enhanced agricultural production as a result of climate change is limited by
soil conditions, and is related not only to temperature but to future precipitation patterns as well.
The impacts of climate change on northern food supplies are much greater in subsistence activities such as hunting
and fishing. Perennially frozen ground, or permafrost, can be found in a significant portion of the North. In areas
where the permafrost is only a few degrees below freezing, it is considered to be particularly vulnerable to climate
change. Already, permafrost areas have been reduced and a general warming of ground temperatures has been
observed. If the climate warms as projected, seasonal thaw will increase, and permafrost will become thinner or
disappear in some areas.
In some areas, permafrost melts will increase the risk of landslides. Landslides can result in considerable damage to
infrastructure and to fish and wildlife habitat. A study in the Mackenzie Valley showed that many of the landslides in
this region are related to the melting of permafrost in ground ice. Given the prevalence of permafrost and icy
conditions in this region, the study concluded that climate change and melting permafrost will increase the frequency of
landslides in this region.
Climate change has the potential to result in economic impacts as well in the North. Infrastructure is particularly
vulnerable in areas where the soil contains a lot of ice and where this ice is close to its freezing point. For example,
melting of permafrost may cause a rupture and buckling of underground pipelines that are used for storage tanks for
water and sewage, and changes to precipitation could require costly upgrades and redesign of tailings pond and other
water diversion structures used in the mining industry.
Over the years, engineers have devised ways to construct buildings and pipelines in cold regions. Construction
techniques have been developed that are designed to prevent the melting of frozen ground from the heat of a structure
itself. Multipoint foundations, above-ground pipelines and thermosyphons are some examples of climatic adaptations
that may become more common place in the future.
Many communities in the North are accessed by winter roads that are built on a foundation of ice and snow, or
frozen lakes and rivers. Warmer winters are causing a problem for ice roads. They are freezing later and melting earlier
in the spring. This has made transporting goods to the communities and mines that depend on these roads more
In addition, with warmer temperatures, the Northwest Passage may become an international shipping route. While
this may bring opportunities for enhanced trade, there are also many potential environmental and social implications.
Already this matter is raising questions of Canadian sovereignty over Arctic waters.
With respect to sea ice, coastal communities and marine ecosystems, Arctic ice extent has decreased by almost 3 per
cent per decade over the past 20 years. Climate change models are projecting a possible reduction in summer ice extent
by 60 per cent by the middle of this century, and a possible complete disappearance of summer ice by the end of the
century. Already, communities along the Arctic coast are experiencing problems because of lower winter ice levels.
Open water and early winter is causing stormy waters to accelerate the erosion of coastlines. In some areas, coastal
erosion is causing the relocation of buildings.
In the marine environment where ice breaks up earlier, animals dependent on sea ice will be disadvantaged. For
example, walrus and seals require ice for their breeding and resting, and polar bears rely on ice to give them access to
the seals that are their main source of food. In Western Hudson Bay, ice break-up was, on average, two weeks earlier in
the 1990s than in the 1970s. These changing ice conditions may result in there being no polar bears in the Hudson Bay
area within about 50 years.
As warming occurs, there will be changes in species compositions of terrestrial ecosystems in the North. Species
ranges are projected to shift pole-ward, and some species may be more able to adapt in new habitat ranges than others.
Climate change may lead to the declines in some animal populations. For example, caribou populations may be
affected by the timing and location of food sources, an increase in parasites and insect-borne diseases, and increases in
In 2000, the Northern Climate Exchange initiated informal discussions in Yukon communities to get a sense of the
level of concern about the projections of climate change and its associated impacts, and also to get a sense of what local
information exists. From these discussions, it became quickly evident that climate change is no longer an abstract idea
in the Yukon, and the issue has emerged as a major area of public concern.
Public opinion on what to do about this issue varies within and among communities. We noted that, while there
existed a tremendous amount of extremely valuable local information on the impacts of climate change, very little of
this information has been documented. There seem to be more questions than answers. There also seems to be a
paucity of information available to assist communities to understand and prepare for climate change impacts. Even
less information is available on a scale that is useful to community-level, decision-making processes.
Observations and concern on climate change vary across the North, and local observations do not always mirror the
projections from models. The impacts of climate change on northern indigenous peoples deserve special mention
because of their relationship to the land and existing and emerging regional governance responsibilities. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that indigenous peoples of the North are more sensitive to
climate change than non-indigenous peoples because their homelands and hunting habitats will be directly affected.
Changes in sea ice, the seasonality of snow and habitat and the diversity of fish and wildlife could threaten long-
standing traditions and ways of life. In some areas, indigenous peoples are already altering their hunting patterns to
accommodate changes to the ice regime and distribution of harvested species.
Northern indigenous peoples are not just another stakeholder group. Land claims settlements and self-government
agreements that are in various states of implementation across the North provide rights to the management of
resources and land ownership. As a result, indigenous organizations in Northern Canada are seeking a more
meaningful role in research, outreach, action and international negotiations on the climate change issue.
Despite the breadth of information I presented earlier on the possible impacts of climate change, it is important to
note that our overall level of understanding of the projected climate change and the impacts of those changes is poor in
Northern Canada. The Northern Climate Exchange completed a gap analysis project to assess the current state of
knowledge. Our first step was to compile all of the available resources on climate change in Northern Canada. We
found over 1,800 references and constructed a database. Our next step was to organize all this information into a series
of tables or matrices. These matrices allowed us to identify patterns in the availability of information. We were able to
identify where good information exists on a particular topic and where there are gaps in the knowledge base.
To assess the state of knowledge, we developed a series of assessment criteria. These allowed us to rank the state of
knowledge as good, fair or poor. Some of the questions we asked to determine our level of understanding of climate
change impacts were: Can we predict the nature and degree of change in the system? Is the information applicable
across Northern Canada? Is the information current? Has research taken place over a sufficient period of time to be
able to detect trends? Are the findings consistent across a number of information sources? We found that impacts at
local and regional scales are poorly understood, and that studies are not evenly distributed geographically. There tend
to be hot spots of research interspersed among vast areas of little or no study.
Most climate change research in the North has focused on physical environmental features such as land permafrost
and coastlines. Therefore, we are better able to project changes in physical aspects of systems, which are the subject of
more study, than biological or socio-economic aspects. Within a particular discipline, existing knowledge tends to be
focused more on aspects with economic significance than on non-economic ones. For example, the impact of climate
change on a harvested fish species is likely to have more research attention than a non-harvested one.
Terrestrial ecosystems have received more research attention than marine or aquatic ecosystems and, surprisingly
enough, the social impacts of climate change have received the least amount of research attention. In fact, most of the
documented information in this area merely confirms lack of knowledge.
Interest in building partnerships among scientists, First Nations and northern communities has increased in the past
couple of decades, and most of the documented local and traditional knowledge has been collected in regions where
scientific research has been focused.
In summary, at present there is insufficient understanding of the implications of climate change, especially within
the context of other forces of change affecting the region, such as oil and gas development, diamond mining and
It is important to note that one of the major studies on climate change in the North is the ``Mackenzie Basin Impact
Study,'' which added greatly to our understanding of climate change and its impacts in Northern Canada. The
Mackenzie River is the longest in Canada, and its basin drains approximately 20 per cent of the country. Dr. Stewart J.
Cohen led a six-year study, which sought to understand what the potential impacts of global warming are on the
regions and inhabitants within this basin. This study applied what is called the scientist stakeholder collaborative
approach, and it was one of the first attempts at an integrated regional assessment of climate change. This assessment
framework recognized that stakeholder involvement is essential in helping to define the objectives of the study, and
also in identifying priority areas for research, which helped to target the limited financial and human resources that
Scientists looked into ``what-if'' scenarios of climate change, and stakeholders answered ``so-what'' discussions in
response to the issues. Both groups worked together on what should be done. This collaboration helped to build
capacity, increase a stakeholder sense of ownership of the issue and provided opportunities for mutual learning.
This one study added greatly to our knowledge base, and similar studies would be valuable for other regions across
the North as this approach emphasizes building partnerships and includes social, political and economic perspectives.
It also ensures that knowledge gaps are addressed in a systematic manner.
The ability to understand climate change and its impacts and, in turn, develop adaptation responses in Canada's
North is hampered by the current level of research and monitoring. The level of funding directed towards northern
research deserves attention, as research is essential if northerners are to cope with unprecedented changes that are
currently facing this region. Adaptation planning must be based on factual understanding of climate trends, and
without this basic information, ineffective or maladapted measures may be implemented.
Funding cutbacks and government downsizing over the past decade have resulted in a decline in research activity
and training on northern issues at Canadian universities. The situation became so serious that in 1998, a group of
alarmed researchers called out for action to secure the future of Arctic science before Canada's capacity to perform
Arctic research collapses entirely.
In September 2000, a task force was established by two of the primary funders of university-based research in
Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council. This task force concluded that northern research is in a state of crisis. The report called out for new
partnerships between universities and northern communities and the direct involvement of northerners in research and
training. Some of these recommendations were implemented. However, funding for community-based initiatives has
not yet greatly improved.
The lack of long-term data collection and climate monitoring in the North also affects our collective ability to
understand climate trends. In most areas, monitoring in northern Canada only began in the 1950s. Cutbacks to the
climate and hydrology monitoring networks took place in the late 1990s. According to Environment Canada, another
round of cutbacks is expected.
Of the 41 climate monitoring stations currently operating in the Yukon, 18 are considered vulnerable, and will be
closed if third-party funding in the amount of $1,000 per station per year is not found to keep them open. Similar
reductions are expected in the other territories and across Canada. These additional cutbacks are likely to hamper the
amounts and quality of research in the North that is directed at understanding the impacts of climate change. The
tragedy is that the current station density in the North does not permit a sufficient understanding of climate trends.
Due to the magnitude and significance of the projected impacts, discussion and development of adaptation
responses in Canada's North are critical. These discussions are now only in their very early stages. Some important
groundwork has been laid. However, much more needs to be done to ensure sustainability of northern communities,
ecosystems and ways of life.
Adaptation has always been part of the way of life in the North. The rate, however, at which changes are projected
to occur will make future adaptation much more challenging. Climate change is altering the relationships of people to
their environments. As a result, it is vital that we understand those relationships so that we can determine
vulnerabilities. Vulnerability to climate change will differ from community to community, since development,
infrastructure, governance and adaptive capacity differs across the North. Furthermore, as communities grow and
change, the nature of their vulnerability and responses can change. Adaptation involves weighing the pros and cons of
various options that may be available, and the best option may vary depending on local circumstances.
At this stage in Northern Canada, developing successful adaptation strategies to the impacts of climate change will
require sound information, capacity building, involvement by northerners, financing and information exchange. In the
North, this means that research to fill critical information gaps will be essential to enable northern decision makers to
develop appropriate strategies and responses. Researcher/stakeholder partnerships are important to ensure that
information needs of northern communities are addressed.
Northern governments are small, and many are emerging, and climate change is but one of a number of important
issues on the agenda. In the south where you may have 20 people working on one file, in the North you may have one
person working on 20 files. More resources need to be directed to northern institutions to allow them to develop the
capacity that is required to become more engaged in adaptation dialogue.
There is a crucial need for the direct participation of northern residents and institutions and all forums where
adaptation strategies are discussed, since northerners are best positioned to understand and assess their vulnerability
and also to assess adaptation responses. In addition to enhanced funding that is required for research and monitoring,
it is also important to note that northern communities are, in general, fairly reliant on assistance from the south for
their ongoing sustainability. This reliance may well increase with the pressures caused by climate change.
Dialogue around impacts and adaptation issues are critical, as is easy access to information. In recent years, the
northern climate exchange, and more recently C-CIARN North, have contributed to this area.
Dialogue and information exchange are critical, as I mentioned, and the Northern Climate Exchange is a relatively
new organization that is based at the Northern Research Institute of Yukon College. This organization evolved from a
need for enhanced institutional capacity in the North that was recognized by both the Government of the Yukon and
the Government of Canada. The Government of the Yukon understood the significance of the science of climate
change and the need to encourage adaptation due to the unique vulnerabilities facing the region. The Government of
Canada also recognized the need for regional capacity building as a requirement for Canada to meet its international
The Northern Climate Exchange has created a web site, hosted workshops, synthesized information and organized
public information forums, among other activities. In 2001, we hosted the Circumpolar Climate Change Summit,
which is to date the largest gathering of individuals on climate change in northern Canada. The primary conference
theme, ``Uncertain Future, Deliberate Action,'' focused discussions on where we should go from here with respect to
actions on climate change, given our current state of knowledge. Delegates to the conference released the Whitehorse
Declaration on Climate Change. This declaration is symbolic of the strong desire of northerners to work together
towards northern-relevant solutions on the climate change issue. The strength of the declaration lies in the process
through which it was created, as it represents the collective voice of a wide range of interested parties and individuals.
The northern office of the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network, or C-CIARN North,
began operations in November of 2001. There is an office in each territory that has fostered a growing network or
researchers and stakeholders. The goal of C-CIARN north is to facilitate collaboration, reduce duplication in research
and help focus the effort of research where it is needed most. This important initiative will continue to build capacity
by drawing together researchers and stakeholders, identifying knowledge gaps and research questions, improving
access to research results and providing a stronger voice and visibility to the issue.
To conclude my presentation on the impacts and adaptation issues in northern Canada, I would like to summarize
the six points that I have made. Climate change is no longer an abstract idea in northern Canada. There is strong
evidence, both from scientific data and local observations, that climate change has had, and is having, an impact. The
projected impacts of climate change are of considerable concern to residents of the North, particularly to indigenous
peoples. However, analysis carried out by the Northern Climate Exchange shows that our level of understanding of
projected climate changes and the impacts of those changes is poor. Our ability to understand climate change and its
impacts and, in turn, develop adaptation responses in Canada's North is hampered by the current level of research and
monitoring. Discussion and development of climate change adaptation responses in Canada's North are critical, and
are now only in their early stages. Much more needs to be done to ensure the sustainability of northern communities,
ecosystems and ways of life.
The Chairman: Thank you for that excellent presentation.
Dr. David Pearson, our next presenter, must set up his computer equipment before he begins. While that is being
done, Ms. Ogden, I wish to state that we have known about that climate change for many decades. People in Canada
knew that climate change was coming, and that it would have an effect on farmers and forestry. I am shocked to
observe that Canada appears to be lagging far behind. We have done little to prepare for the inevitable. We do not
seem to have been prepared as a country.
Your point number 5, that you reiterated and restated, summarizes it best when you said that the ability to
understand climate change and its impacts, and in turn develop adaptation, which is the focus of our study, and
responses in Canada's North is hampered by the current level of research and monitoring. In other words, we have not
done much research, we have not done enough monitoring, and we do not have good models or data. That is
Ms. Ogden: I would agree. The situation is more prevalent in the North where impacts are already taking place. We
know we should be doing something to adapt to this issue.
The Chairman: Have we been ignoring the issue? Has there been a policy of neglect?
Ms. Ogden: Capacity is part of the issue.
The Chairman: Not enough manpower?
Ms. Ogden: There are not enough people or resources to work on the file. In northern Canada, it is a very small
jurisdiction. People have a lot on their agenda. The human resources that are available to devote time and effort to this
issue are limited. In addition, part of the issue is our level of understanding of the changes that need to take place.
The Chairman: Can you advise honourable senators about your budget for this kind of research in the North? How
much money do you have for research, monitoring and preparing your models?
Ms. Ogden: Our organization does not conduct research. Our organization provides a voice and visibility to this
issue, and it helps to coordinate research activities that are taking place.
I could not answer as to the overall level of research and funding, other than to quote the NSERC and SSHRC task
force report which stated that it is in a state of crisis.
The Chairman: You cannot put any numbers on the table whatsoever?
Ms. Ogden: Not off the top of my head.
Senator Wiebe: On page 11, 12 and 13 of your slides, you mention that you do identify good information.
Honourable senators have heard from many witnesses and have seen and read the works of a number of so-called
experts in the press and media.
There appears to have been a tremendous amount of research done on climate change, and there are so many
differing views on whether the phenomenon of climate change is a natural progression, or whether the activities of
humans has speeded up that climate change.
The question I wish to ask you is one that I have posed to other witnesses from other organizations which have
appeared before us, and that is: Who do we believe? Your quote that you identify good information stuck out. That is
what we, as a committee, would like to do: identify good information. Can you give us an idea on how you assess that?
Ms. Ogden: That was something that we really struggled with when we set out the criteria for the project that we did.
What we wanted to do was to look at all available information and pull it together into one spot, so we created a
database. We tried to look at not only the numbers of references but what the references were saying.
Specific to northern Canada, we culled through the references with a fine tooth comb. Many of the 1,800 references
we viewed were put into the ``gee whiz'' category, which means, ``Gee, we know something is happening about climate
change and that we should do something about it.'' However, in terms of the information that is there respecting the
length of the record of the research that is taking place, the applicability of that information across northern Canada
was quite limited.
In the criteria we developed for each of these categories into which we compiled the information, we asked six
questions: How well do we understand the system and its relationship to climate? How well do we understand the
system's influence by climate? How long has the information been collected? Is the information current? What is the
regional distribution of the information? From category to category, the state of knowledge did vary. On the whole,
however, we found that the information was poor.
Senator Wiebe: Do you put much emphasis on who funds the project?
Ms. Ogden: In terms of evaluating the value of the information? No.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, we will now hear from Dr. David Pearson.
Dr. David Pearson, Chair, Ontario Region, Canadian Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research Network:
Mr. Chairman, honourable senators, it is a pleasure to be here today. We are grateful for the invitation. Your process
and the topic which honourable senators are dealing with is an important one, and the visibility that your committee is
giving to it is one for which we are grateful.
As Ms. Ogden has stated, adaptation to climate change is a relatively new area. From reading your transcripts, there
is one thing that we all agree on, and that is that the Kyoto debate has taken so much attention away from adaptation
that the debate is very much skewed. I hope that, after the Kyoto Protocol has been dealt with in the House of
Commons, adaptation to climate change will receive more attention and funding. Part of what I will tell honourable
senators is the same as what Ms. Ogden has already stated: We need more money input in order to answer the
I know this is the wrong way around, but I would like to comment on one of your questions, if I may, right at the
beginning. Your question was, if climate change has been ongoing for 30 years, why we are still so unprepared to deal
with it? A significant part of the problem relates to the fact that, until very recently, we have been unsure whether what
we were living through was part of a natural variation in climate, or whether it was part of a trend towards global
warming. Between 10 and 20 years ago, the scientific community would not have been able to give you a consensus
judgment on which of those alternatives we were living through. That, I think, partly answers your question, Senator
Wiebe. Who do we believe? The work of the International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, its working groups and
particularly the third report that came out last year, as well as the work that was done at the request of President Bush
in the United States to evaluate the work of the IPCC, has given us a worldwide group of scientists from many
countries to believe. In other words, the situation now is much different than it was just a few years ago. We now know
who to believe, and we know that we are on a trend towards a global climate change. In other words, we are not just on
a blip of natural variation. Those, then, are my views on those two questions.
I will tell you a little about C-CIARN. The word ``adaptation'' is a key word in the mission of the C-CAIRN
network of all the regions in the sectors. It is a key word for us in C-CIARN Ontario. You will not see mitigation, the
cutting of greenhouse gases in the mission of C-CIARN. In many ways, we stand alone as a research network in
focussing on adaptation.
The work that we have done is much the same as the work that Ms. Ogden's group has done, except that we are a
younger child on the block in C-CAIRN Ontario. We have been around for just one year. We have our good years
ahead of us. Ms. Ogden has done more work in the North than we have been able to do.
For example, last Thursday in Mississauga, we had a large workshop that focussed on communities. We think that
the buck stops in communities on climate change, just as the buck stops there for many other things. Our workshop
dealt with the impacts and adaptation potential for four areas of climate change impact: ecosystem health, human
health, water resources and infrastructure. The workshop brought 100 people together, and about 25 per cent of those
were municipal employees. Others were researchers from universities and from government. There were also NGOs. It
was an example of the kind of discussion that we need to have between researchers and stakeholders. Researchers
frequently talk to themselves at conferences. Researchers and stakeholders, those who will live with the effects of
climate change and that will do something about it, such as municipal councillors, the farming community and the
forest industry, are not often engaged in discussion with researchers, nor do the research projects that are undertaken
have an immediate relevance to the stakeholders. Therefore, C-CIARN's mission is very much focused on adaptation
and in bringing researchers and stakeholders together.
At the same time as we talk about adaptation, I will tell you why the polar bear is up there on my slide. The polar
bear is up there because, when we speak about adaptation, there is a tendency to think about it simply in human terms,
in that we need to minimize the impact of climate change on ourselves, on our communities, on our water resources
and on the services with which we are provided. We also need to give voice to the environment itself. Someone has to
speak on behalf of the ecosystems, and speak and think on behalf of the polar bears. We put the polar bear on our two-
dollar coin. It is a symbol of our country, and it has much to do with our identity as Canadians. We, as a country, need
to ensure that the polar bears do not go the way of the Siberian tiger or the elephant. We do not want the polar bear to
become the animal about which we speak to our grandchildren in the past tense. We need to think about the protection
of ecosystems and the fauna and flora of our country as much as we need to think about the protection of our
livelihoods and of our own best interests. Our view about adaptation must include the protection of the environment
for its own sake, not just because it provides us with economic benefits. We have an ethical responsibility to the natural
environment, and we regard the polar bear not just as a symbol of the northwestern part of Canada but also as a
symbol for Ontario.
It is important that you have an overview of the structure of C-CIARN. C-CIARN Ontario is one of the regional
offices. There are also sectors that represent agriculture, water, fisheries and landscape hazards. We have a provincial
advisory board that includes the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, representatives of Ontario Power
Generation, representatives from the community, medical officers of health, researchers, the academic community, and
representatives from the relevant provincial and federal ministries. It is a demonstrably high-powered, provincial
The office is based on one person — in other words, we have one paid person and many volunteers, including
myself. I am a professor in the Department of Sciences at Laurentian University. My colleague is an emeritus
professor. We have day jobs and other things that we do. The regional office for Ontario is based upon one paid
person. The Ontario network of people with whom we communicate electronically, to whom, for example, this
presentation has been sent for their comments, is comprised of more than 1,000 people. The breakdown can be seen in
a copy of our presentation.
It is interesting that the academic involvement is only about 30 per cent, if you include the research units. That
represents about 300 of the 11,000 faculty in Ontario universities. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2 per cent to 2.5
per cent of Ontario faculty are in our climate change network. Probably one-tenth of those, or perhaps one-fifth, are
involved in research on climate change. My guess would be that probably one-half of those are involved in adaptation
research; the remainder are involved in impact research. There is no doubt that the part of the pie on this chart that
represents the research community needs to be increased. However, the pie chart provides you with a good idea of the
variety of people whom we think it is important to be engaged in this study of adaptation.
Ontario, like the North and other regions in Canada, is large. The kind of communities and the kind of climate
impacts that will occur in the northern part of the province are very different from those that will occur in the south. I
want to speak more about that in a moment.
Communities, such as Ottawa and Toronto, make the news. However, the majority of communities in Ontario, and
that is perhaps the same for other provinces in Canada, such as Saskatchewan, are very small. One consequence of that
is that those communities can be excused for not having climate change on their radar screens. They are more involved
with other day-to-day issues to do with the survival of their communities. Those communities do not have climate
change on their radars, and they also do not have an abundance of resources to engage in community strategies for
adapting to climate change. These communities have a hard enough time providing the basic services without
becoming engaged in looking at adapting to climate change.
For example, looking at the very northern part of Ontario, about 48 per cent of our land mass is in the far north.
Much of that land mass is beyond the limit, the line across the diagram here, representing the northern limit of
harvestable boreal forest, which is the northern line of the forest industry. Most of those communities are very small
Aboriginal communities which are not engaged in this discussion at all. It is important for us in Ontario, as well as in
the rest of Canada, that we find a way to engage these communities. One difficulty is that they do not regard
themselves as stakeholders in the debate. Because of their position on self-government, they regard themselves as quite
different from either an industry or from other stakeholders that are part of our network. We need to find a way to
build a proper and appropriate relationship with the First Nations communities in Ontario in this discussion.
The variety of environments that are involved in climate change in Ontario is great. We run from the vineyards of
the mixed-wood plains in the Niagara Peninsula region, where the loss of ice wine production is of potentially great
economic significance, to the Hudson Bay lowlands, whereas in the North we have discontinuous permafrost. That is
the range of environments, of ecozones, through which climate change is having an impact in Ontario. Just getting
one's head around the science involved, let alone the social science and economic impacts involved, and through a
range of environments that is so great, is enormously difficult. Contemplating the science of climate change in Ontario
is almost the equivalent of looking at the impact of climate change in the entire continental area of Europe. By that I
mean that it is like looking at climate change from southern Italy to Scandinavia. We have a greater range of
environments in Ontario alone than they have in that whole area of Europe.
If you examine the map of the trends of temperature change in the last 50 years, released by Environment Canada,
and about which Ms. Ogden spoke, you begin to get an answer to that question of who do we believe. We believe those
who are basing their projections on the information that we have about what has happened in the last fifty years. This
map, and the information that is part of it. is partially what has gone into building the Canadian climate model, which
is one of the five most respected climate models in the world. The Hadley Institute in Britain has also produced one of
the most respected models.
In other words, we believe the people who are basing their projections on the data that we have about the changes
that have occurred in the last 50 years. When their models, run backwards, can show the changes that have occurred,
then those models are the ones that we should take seriously. The Canadian model is one of them.
The data on this map fits very well with some data that comes from the northwest of Ontario from the experimental
lakes area. One of those areas of research was under considerable danger of collapsing about five years ago, and has
been revived. Work between 1970 and 1990 in the experimental lakes area showed that the temperature there has risen,
in twenty years, by something over a degree, about a degree and a half. What is most significant about the three trends
in the diagram that you are looking at is evaporation. The public thinks of climate change as temperature increase
only. It is not just temperature increase; there are other effects as well, and you have heard about those at length from
other witnesses who have appeared before this committee.
The real data from northwestern Ontario showed that evaporation from lakes and soil, in other words from lake
water and soil moisture, increased between 30 and 50 per cent. That is a very significant piece of data. It fits with the
temperature increases that are in the Environment Canada model and lends credibility to the projections that are
coming from Environment Canada based on the Canadian model. It runs right up to the end of the century, when we
are looking at a tripling of carbon dioxide.
The Kyoto Protocol only buys us a little time to adapt to the changes that will occur when carbon dioxide doubles.
The Kyoto Protocol will change the decade in which carbon dioxide doubles from perhaps 2060 to 2070. It depends on
what happens in the next 50 years. The Kyoto Protocol will make little difference in the need to adapt. If by some
magic, 40 Kyoto Protocols are implemented in the next 30 years, then we might avoid at least the scenarios that are in
the end-of-century diagram before you, based on close to a tripling of carbon dioxide. These models, I would submit to
you, are real, and we should believe them when we are considering that to which we must adapt.
Precipitation changes are more difficult to predict. In Ontario, which is in the centre of the picture, it shows that
winter precipitation is likely to increase, but it will also change. It will not be snow; it will be rain. There will be
significant consequences for winter tourism and for large animals such as moose and deer which have to make their
way through snow to find browse. Making their way through snow with an ice crust is not something that you would
wish on a large animal. Their legs get scratched, and they die through infection and blood loss. Those changes in winter
precipitation will not only have an impact on humans but also on natural ecosystems. Summer precipitation may drop
in Ontario. We may see an increase in drought, but the change is not predicted to be great, perhaps in the
neighbourhood of 10 per cent.
The water levels of the Great Lakes will change in Ontario significantly. We are looking at something in the
neighbourhood of a metre drop in each of the Great Lakes. That does not mean that only the water level in the lakes
drop, but also the water table and the watershed around the lakes drops. Those lakes are fed by streams that will
probably change from flowing all year to flowing just part of the year.
That was one of the consequences that has been found in the experimental lakes area that I referred to earlier as a
result of evaporation. These are very serious water level drops, not just for transportation through the Sault Locks and
through the lakes, which will have an economic impact, but also for the aquatic ecosystems around the Great Lakes.
The drop in soil moisture and the water table will affect all of Ontario, right up to the Arctic watershed.
We do not know whether the droughts that occurred in 1997, 1999 and last year are part of natural change or
whether they are part of the global warming trend. Looking at them in isolation, they could be either. There were
droughts in the 1960s and 1930s that were probably part of natural variations, especially back in the 1930s, and these
later droughts compare with those. Nevertheless, they too are an expected consequence of the likely drop in summer
precipitation in Ontario.
Forest fires are not only of significance for the forest industry. You have heard from Ms. Ogden that the boreal
forest is important economically and from an ecosystem point of view. There are experienced researchers who believe
that the boreal forest is about to become not a sink for carbon dioxide but a source of carbon dioxide because of forest
fires. Forest fires are becoming more frequent because of dead trees killed by insects. Therefore, there is an increase in
slash and fallen dead wood in forests. The significance of the boreal forest changing from a sink, a user, to a source of
carbon dioxide is of considerable significance for the planet, not just for Canadians and for the forest industry.
If one begins to look at impacts on agriculture, there is no question that in the agriculture sector there is the
possibility for positive change. You are familiar with all of the changes. You have heard about the positive changes as
well, such as the longer growing seasons. In Northern Ontario, there are already 50 fewer days in which the lakes in the
Muskokas are covered with ice than at the beginning of the century. Fifty days, not 15, but 50. That is welcomed by
those who like a longer growing season, ensuring that their tomatoes will ripen and that their peas will not be killed by
a frost in the spring. However, the positive side is balanced by the negative side, such as the insect infestations, crop
damage from heat, drought and the decreased herbicide and pesticide efficacy, which is largely due to weeds being able
to grow much better in the high carbon dioxide environment that is promised by global warming. If we look at the
potential adaptations and the kinds of areas in which research needs to be done, we need new varieties and hybrids that
will fit with the new climate. There is no question about that. A good deal of this work is going on.
We also need to look at land use adaptation. In Northern Ontario, we have what we call the clay belt, which is
largely used for dairy production at the moment. That might be usable for different kinds of crops. What we do not
know, and where the research needs to be done, is how well the soils will be suited to those new sorts of crops. Soils are
a product of their climate. The same raw material under the climate of Northern Ontario will produce a different soil
from what would be produced in the Niagara Peninsula, simply because of the climate. The minerals that make up the
soil, the clay minerals, develop in soil materials as a result of the climate under which the process is taking place. We
just do not know how well the soils of Northern Ontario will be able to take the planting of new crops.
If we look at the kinds of processes that affect forestry, the longer growing season and shorter winter might have a
downside for trees. The fact is that winter is important for hardening trees, for making sure that the buds do not break
out prematurely. The change to a longer growing season, which might be good for agriculture, may be bad for those
whose livelihood depends upon trees, either in a forest or in an orchard. Winter-hardening will change, and the
potential is for trees to suffer from not being winter-hardened in the way that they are at the moment.
If we look at the sorts of adaptations that have potential for the forest industry and harvesting, those areas that are
showing vulnerability to climate change, those areas with slower growth rates, it makes a good deal of sense to know
where they are and identify them. Analyzing the forest for vulnerability and impacts from climate change is something
at which the forest industry could become much better. Considering the introduction of species that are presently
adapted to southern climates in the province and using those in the north is another possibility for adaptation in the
I want to emphasize, as Ms. Ogden did, that adaptation is not just a question of getting the science right; it is also a
question of engaging the stakeholders. It is a question of awareness and understanding. It is a question of political will,
and I do not mean just at the federal and provincial level, but also at the municipal level. In developing official regional
plans for land use, it demands that local councillors in Dufferin County be as aware of the impacts of climate change as
the federal Department of the Environment. When the buck stops in communities, you need people in communities to
understand the issue, and to be engaged and involved. Therefore, much of the research that needs to be done is not just
scientific research but social science research. We need to know how to mobilize communities, and we need to know
just as much about how to get people involved as about the science of what they have to tackle.
I want to end with a brief look at one of the early warning signals from Northern Ontario with regard to what we are
facing, both socially and scientifically. Up in the northern part of the province on the Hudson Bay lowlands, there is a
lake called Hawley Lake with a river called Sutton River flowing into Hudson Bay. The Sutton River is one of the best
brook trout fishing rivers in the world. Americans fly in and pay lots of money to go brook trout fishing in the Sutton
River. This is what Hawley Lake looks like. This is what the landscape looks like. It is from Hawley Lake, the shallow
lake, that the Sutton River flows. It is in this neighbourhood that one finds the polar bears which I mentioned are a
symbol for the importance of saving ecosystems.
Some of the work we have done at Laurentian University, and the group with which I am involved which looks at
impacts of climate change on fresh water, have been gathering data on the temperature structure, the difference in
temperature between bottom and top water in Hawley Lake since the 1970s. A visit up there in 2001 showed that the
temperature structure of the lake, because of warming in the Hudson Bay lowlands, to be significantly different from
the past. That red line is the line which shows that the surface water in Hawley Lake last year was somewhere in the
neighbourhood of 22 to 23 degrees. There was a fish kill last year of brook trout, and the people who run one of the fly-
in lodges up there say that there have been fish kills since the late 1990s.
It seems that climate change warming in the Hudson Bay lowlands is affecting the temperature structure and habitat
of the brook trout and, therefore, affecting very significantly the economic activity in this part of the province. It is a
part of the province that is difficult to get to. We need monitoring stations up there to be providing us with data that
does not cost us $35,000 to fly in a field crew but is available through satellite phone back to the researchers. We need
monitoring. We need remote monitoring. We need to be able to monitor Canada through modern technology without
sending out parties of scientists. That requires funding that recognizes that we must monitor the North if we are to
understand the future impacts on the south.
I will end with a view of the bigger picture. This is a photograph of the planet with the lights on. If you look to see
where the lights are on, you will not be surprised that they are in North America and Europe. We all need to think
about where the lights will come on, not just where they are on now. They will come on in India and Asia. There are 3
billion people living in that part of the planet who would like to be generating and using energy to support a lifestyle
like ours in North America.
As we look at adaptation and put time into thinking about adaptation, we need to remember that that adaptation
will not just be for the climate change that we are seeing at the moment and are able to predict for the next 10, 20 or 30
years. It will be the climate change that our kids' kids' kids, four generations hence, will be dealing with. Adaptation
will be an enormous amount tougher than it is at present by the end of the century, when the lights come on in India
If we find it tough to define what it is we need to understand, and to mobilize communities to adapt to the climate
change that is upon us now, believe me, it is a tea party compared to the adaptation that will be necessary at the end of
the century. Let us not kid ourselves: We are at the thin end of the wedge. Governments and people around the world
must understand that we are at the thin end of the wedge,.
The Chairman: We have your message, and I appreciate that comment.
Senator Tkachuk: Are temperatures accelerated in the North because the air is drier? It seems that the temperature
increases are greater in northern Canada than in the south. Is that because of less moisture in the air?
Ms. Ogden: One of the primary reasons the projections are showing as higher in northern Canada relates to ice and
the melting of snow and ice. Ice and snow have a very high reflectivity, so they do not absorb as much heat energy as
dark coloured ground like trees, grass and shrubs. It has more to do with reflectivity of the light energy and how that
would change when there is less ice and snow. When there is less ice and snow, more heat will be absorbed, so the
temperatures will be warmer.
Senator Tkachuk: It is a perfect little laboratory for the future.
I am looking at the tables that you presented, showing information from 1860. Is this the evidence that you have, or
were temperatures increasing before that? I have read in some literature that there was also an accelerated warming
period between the years 1900 and 1940, then it cooled a little bit and then it started getting warmer again. What
caused the increases between 1860 and 1940? Is it natural?
Mr. Gerard Courtin, Professor Emeritus, Laurentian University, Canadian Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation
Research Network: We have to assume that during that period it was natural. The changes that are now of concern to
us show a warming trend that is completely outside of that natural variation. There is much scatter to it.
You saw the sorts of graphs that Henry Hengeveld showed you. If you recall, the trend lines in the latter part of the
20th century to now, and predicted into the future, are unprecedented in terms of the amount of heating that goes on.
Senator Tkachuk: Highly unprecedented? In Canada, would it be similar to the difference between the 1930s and the
1990s? You talk about community stories. I am relying on what my father and uncles tell me about the 1930s. It was
hot and brutal out on the prairies. It was a huge change from the decade before. It took a long time to get over. That
was a natural sort of thing.
We are trying to understand the issues. We all note that the scientists are talking about global warming. Most of us
believe that there is global warming. We are just trying to get a handle on how serious it will be. All scientists disagree
about as much as politicians do. You are making it very hard for us.
Mr. Courtin: The Dirty Thirties were a short period. Yes, they were dramatic; they had a tremendous impact on
Canada, but they were relatively short. We went up and down in terms of drought and heat.
We are looking now at a slope. We are not going up in little increments. There is a change that is regrettably uni-
directional at this point.
Senator Tkachuk: We should be spending more on a national research program to determine how we adjust to these
differences, especially if it has been going on for 150 years, and we have been sleeping through it.
What coordination do you have with American scientists? Alaska is in the North. Are we working together? Do we
have a North American vision? Are we sharing information? How is that all working? Everything that happens at our
border happens on their border, and everything is interrelated.
Mr. Peter Johnson, Science Advisor, Northern Region, Canadian Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research
Network: There is some coordination, but not as much as we would like to see. Within the impact adaptation area, for
example, there is some circumpolar coordination taking place at the present time with a program on the Arctic climate
impact assessment, which in fact is being supported by the Arctic Council's International Arctic Science Committee.
That group is looking at some of the circumpolar issues.
One of the problems with bilateral cooperation is that we are a very small player in a big field. We cannot really go
into bilateral science and monitoring arrangements. We are going in with the cents, and they are coming in with the
Senator Tkachuk: It is very important that we share information. We are in the same geography. Is there a way to do
Mr. Johnson: There is certainly a way to share information. A number of information networks have been built up
and are now interlinked. Think of the Northern Climate Exchange that Ms. Ogden manages in the Yukon. That is a
good example of one of those links, as is our own information system at the Canadian Polar Commission.
Senator Fairbairn: I want to thank you for being here. The question arises whether this is real or is it just part of the
great web of regular cycles. You have done much today to help us get a message out through this televised committee. I
wish the entire country could be listening in to this presentation today, because what you are telling us is something
that people in my area in Western Canada may find hard to believe, even though there is visible evidence that things
are very much askew.
What is happening is not part of a natural up and down pattern, like what happened in the 1930s. This is part of a
trend. That single message is very helpful, particularly when just a few days ago there were stories in Alberta that
provincial government research had indicated that perhaps 90 per cent of the productive land in Alberta will not be
able to sustain the planting of crops next seeding season.
Can you tell me a little more about the Mackenzie River issue? You said that that basin drains approximately 20 per
cent of the country. Could you expand on that?
Ms. Ogden: The Mackenzie River system is composed of a number of tributaries that flow into the Mackenzie
River. The Athabasca River, the Liard River and the Peace River all flow into that system. All of the rivers within this
basin drain into the Mackenzie and flow out to the Beaufort Sea. The entire basin is a watershed. All the water that
falls in that region flows into the lakes and rivers that flow out to the Beaufort Sea. The basin itself composes about 20
per cent of the lands area in the country. The study that was conducted there took place over a six-year period. It was
led by Dr. Stewart J. Cohen, who is presenting here next week. It was a research program. Research questions were
defined in part by some of the stakeholders in the region.
The assessment was an integrated assessment. It tried to look at the impacts not in isolation of each other. They
looked at forestry impacts at the same time as agricultural and water impacts. They were looking at the linkages
between the issues and among the stakeholders in the region.
Senator Fairbairn: Dr. Pearson, you certainly put a visual image in my mind when you mentioned the polar bear. I
saw a documentary on the CBC not long ago. It illustrated very vividly what you were saying. It also showed how we
as human beings were trying to cope with it. At the port of Churchill, when the climate was not doing what it was
supposed to be doing for the polar bears, those bears were encroaching on the communities. We built a jail for them to
stay in until the conditions improved and the ice flows were available to them.
If I understand you correctly, these are early days, unfortunately, for this kind of research that you are doing. You
need much greater funding and expansion of it.
You said that the bears might be gone in 50 years. Do you have a sense now that, if we mobilize the best of the
brains in this country, there is a way to stop that from happening? Can we come up with solutions?
Mr. Pearson: I do not know. I do not think any honest researcher would tell you that there is a firm answer to that.
We need to be optimistic. We need to believe that there are solutions, otherwise we would not do the work. We must
believe that we can find adaptation measures that will enable us and our ecosystems to come through the experiment
that we have started without being totally destroyed.
I mentioned the polar bear because we are facing a communications issue as well as a scientific issue. We must have
icons. The polar bear is a wonderful national icon; the loon may be another. I am sure there are others, too. They can
be very helpful in engaging the public in the issue. The public cannot relate to the curves and trends that come from the
experimental lakes area that show changes in evaporation. However, the public can relate to icons such as polar bears.
Peter Johnson may know better than I what real hope there is for protecting the environment for polar bears.
Senator Fairbairn: This goes back to the comment of the buck stopping at the communities. That is what you are
talking about now. Thus far, we have been having an energy debate on climate change that is focused within my
province certainly, but in reality it is much beyond that. Many good things are being done, but we do not know about
them. I know that you are volunteers, but is there an element in your group that is taking a look at this
communications marketing, if you will? Are you considering how to help the ordinary person not to be scared out of
their minds by this, but to be conscious that they are part of the solution by supporting the research? How do we get
communities in Canada to have innovative thoughts on how they can protect the resources and animals within their
Mr. Pearson: The answer is definitely yes. When we put in our proposal to become the Ontario office for C-CIARN,
we went in with partners, one of which is Earth Care Sudbury, which really represents the city, and the other is Science
North, which is a science centre in the business of communicating science. That is the collaboration that composes C-
CIARN Ontario. We can communicate well with communities. The answer is that it must be done.
Senator Fairbairn: It is a survival issue for them.
Senator Gustafson: I find your presentation very interesting. I probably would be considered a stakeholder because I
farm in Saskatchewan, and we have had to adapt. For example, it was believed that we could never grow canola in the
south. I farm on the North Dakota-Saskatchewan border. We are growing really good canola crops now. This may be
a swear word to some scientists, but Monsanto has come along with genetically modified grains, although we cannot
sell them. We have scientists who are working for the government, and we have scientists who are working for the
industry. Honestly, this becomes quite confusing to some of the stakeholders.
In southern Saskatchewan, we have built a dam, about which there was much confrontation. Some said that, if the
dam were to be built, they would be able to walk across the bed. There is now 51 feet of water in that dam, seven miles
from my farm.
We have had dramatic changes in this drought period. I phoned one of my people from Assiniboia who tells me
that, from the end of July to harvest time, they had 26 inches of rain. They were getting stuck in the mud with their
combine harvesters. At Medicine Hat, in Lethbridge county, they had as much rain in one year as they had in the five
previous years. They had floods. There have been extreme happenings. Today, they are having snowstorms in the
southern and central United States.
I gather from what you are saying that this climate change will continue. You say that India has put on the light. We
have just seen the tip of the iceberg here. Will the future be about our ability to adapt, or can we really do something
Mr. Courtin: I will answer the last part of your question first, namely, your reference to India and China. Dr.
Pearson was referring to the fact that it is not just an environmental change that the world is undergoing; it is also a
sociological change on a tremendous scale.
Regarding your comments with regard to the tremendous amount of precipitation, I refer you back to the
presentation by Henry Hengeveld. I do not think anyone has any really good handle on the issue other than to be able
to say that the frequency of catastrophic events will increase. Those catastrophic events will probably become more
Having said that, I suspect, but I do not know, that predicting where those events will take place will be the toughest
thing that climatic modellers will have to face. It is very fine to say that there are trends toward this part of the country
being generally drier. That does not mean that there will not be a catastrophic event in a drier part of the country, such
as the one that was mentioned where there is tremendous precipitation. Therefore, I would think that the scientific
community is as much in the dark as possibly the farmer in Saskatchewan as to where Armageddon will strike next.
Senator Gustafson: These cycles have gone on before. In 1984-85, I chaired the committee on drought for Western
Canada. At Bengough, Saskatchewan, the grasshoppers were so thick there was not one leaf on a Caragana tree. Every
leaf was gone. There was not a blade of grass. The highways were as slick as if they had been oiled. The next year, we
had the best crop in that area that ever grew.
Mr. Courtin: All I can say is that those sorts of variabilities, which in the past may well have been natural ones, will
be more frequent and more severe.
Senator Gustafson: That seems to be what the witnesses before you said as well.
Senator Hubley: We are all learning around this table with every presentation.
During the presentation, you commented on the communities in Ontario and their sizes, and the number of small
communities of 1,000 persons or less. You said that climate change impacts on these small communities were not even
on the radar screen at this point. Following on Senator Fairbairn's question, the buck will stop there, nonetheless.
I had a sense that most people know about climate change, or they have heard of global warming. How do we get
the information to them? You did mention that you had some mandates with organizations that you know about.
Could you elaborate on that?
Mr. Pearson: Someone needs to visit the communities and talk with the people. This cannot be done with television
and radio. It has to be communicated person to person. The resources need to be put into providing support — I think
that the C-CIARN is ideally positioned to do this, but perhaps there are other vehicles — to fund workshops, town hall
meetings, people to go to talk to the rotary clubs, municipal councils and community groups of whatever kind, and to
provide them with the information, and also to provide them with suggestions on how they can deal with the impacts
that will affect their community, whatever they may be. Whether it is fly-in fishing, forestry, agriculture, tourism,
vineyards — whatever it is, we need what are called toolboxes to take with us in order to have a concrete discussion and
not an abstract workshop that tries to engage the public in an academic kind of discussion. We need to go with a
description of communities. These may be case study descriptions that are made up by people who are good at writing
these things that say ``This is the kind of community that we want to talk about. These are the problems we are facing.
Let's talk about how you might solve them;'' in other words, engaging the communities in discussions about adapting
to the impacts that they are facing. It has to be a person-to-person discussion.
Mr. Johnson: There is an important issue here in terms of the communication with people in small communities.
Particularly in the North, we need a totally different way of developing our relationships with the communities and
talking with the communities. I think, too, there is an attitude of talking to the communities and arriving for a 10
o'clock meeting and expecting everyone to be present. In order to develop trust and communicate an open and
transparent way with northern communities, one must be there for more than one day. One must live in the community
and be with the community for a period of time in order to understand the community. There is a real challenge in
going into these communities.
Very often, in the northern communities, climate change and its impact are very much on the radar screen.
However, we need to develop a way in which we can talk with these people in order to integrate them into the sort of
national discussion, or even the international discussion on impacts and adaptations.
Senator Hubley: I would like to ask you a question pertaining to the Great Lakes water levels. I will try to keep my
questions on Ontario and the North. I do come from Prince Edward Island, and when we hear ``water,'' our antennas
go sky high, because we live on a small island dependent on ground water.
When the water level drops in the Great Lakes — and in this respect we hear that there is more precipitation in some
areas, that there is a melting of the polar ice cap and thus there should be more water — does that water not impact on
the water levels of the Great Lakes? Are you predicting a decline in water levels?
For example, relating to the phenomenon of backfilling, if the water level is depleted, does it backfill with salt water?
We have heard of this principle on Prince Edward Island. Is that a condition that might happen in these areas?
Mr. Pearson: It is a concern in coastal communities, yes. Underneath the fresh water table on Prince Edward Island
there is salt water. As the thickness and, therefore, the downward pressure of the fresh water decreases, so the salt
water will rise. It is sitting beneath the fresh water because it is denser, and it sits where it does because of a balance in
the overlying and underlying mass. As you decrease the fresh water, the salt water will rise. It is an issue in coastal
In looking at the Great Lakes water levels, the main issue is evaporation. The surface of the Great Lakes is so huge
and the wind over the Great Lakes has such a long fetch that the evaporation becomes very effective. The evaporation
in the experimental lakes area is thought to have taken place because of an increase in the frequency of wind and a rise
in the wind velocities. Therefore, the Great Lakes will be lowered largely because of evaporation. However, that
evaporation also affects soil moisture, streams and rivers. Therefore, the amount of water flowing into the lakes from
the watershed of the Great Lakes, which does not include those areas where ice is melting, will drop as well. There is
not much that can be done about that.
Senator Wiebe: It is not all that bad. In order to have rain, you have to have evaporation. Where will that rain fall?
Why do we believe that global warming and climate change means that we will dry up and the rain will fall somewhere
in the Antarctic? With the changes in weather patterns, changes caused by El Niño, changes in the wind as you were
talking about, we need to look at the possibility that because of this increased evaporation, it could be wet. Our polar
ice cap is melting. Unless we pump water into the ground, our globe does not lose moisture. That moisture stays.
Therefore, if that moisture is evaporating, where will it fall? There has been no study that I have heard of that addresses
the issue of where that rain will fall.
Mr. Johnson: I can give you one specific example, in that the changes that are taking place in terms of open water,
period, and evaporation. from the northern Great Lakes are, in fact, having an impact in increased precipitation and
precipitation regimes when you get to the western coast of Hudson Bay. Thus there is a connection between Great
Slave Lake, Great Bear Lake and the areas to the east in terms of precipitation regimes. I am not sure in terms of the
Great Lakes because climatically it is more difficult because of the circulation coming up from the United States.
Mr. Courtin: One has to appreciate that as air warms up, its capacity to hold moisture increases. You can get
evaporation without precipitation. In order to get precipitation, you need to cool that air mass down. Undoubtedly we
will get vast quantities of water evaporating from the Great Lakes. However, that will not necessarily drop on the
Senator Wiebe: I am talking about evaporation from oceans, the ice cap and our lakes. It will fall somewhere. Who
is to say that it will not fall on Western Canada?
Mr. Courtin: There would have to be a trigger for that. One recognizes that the models are not perfect. However,
some of the data indicates that a very large amount of precipitation increase will occur off the California coast, in the
area which is known as the subtropical high-pressure system. That clearly will change because, as the northern
hemisphere warms, the weather systems that we now take for granted will shift. Therefore, the triggering may very well
be nothing more than the west sides of the Rocky Mountain complex, that whole mass of mountains that stretches
down the whole western side of the continent. Thus the prairies are drier than Vancouver because high ground tends to
force air upwards, and when air is forced upwards, it cools, and when it cools it condenses. That leads to rain. By the
time those air masses flow over the western cordillera, you find yourself in the Prairie provinces that have always had a
much lower precipitation than elsewhere.
The Chairman: That precipitation would not be going on to land but into the ocean, off California?
Mr. Courtin: It is over the ocean and the adjacent land. I do not know enough about the dynamics of the models
that predicted that to be able to tell you what would trigger that very large amount of increase in precipitation over the
Mr. Pearson: If you look at the winter map that we gave you, you will see a large area that includes California, the
northwestern United States and a good part of the Pacific Ocean. That area is looking at a 100 per cent increase in
Senator Mahovlich: I would like to bring to your attention some of my personal experiences. Back in the late 1950s, I
skated with my wife at the time I was courting her. We used to go to the Credit River, and we could skate two or three
miles up that river. It was pleasant. There were bonfires on either side of the river. It was enjoyable. I have been told
that nowadays you cannot skate on the Credit River. I always thought that was because of pollution. Is it global
warming that is causing the change? Are there any studies on this? If so, that is very close to Toronto. In other words,
you do not have to go up to the Arctic to see the effects of global warming.
I also play golf from time to time near the same place. I see trout swimming up the river in the summertime. I also
spend a lot of time in Muskoka. You are talking about adaptation. How do you stop people from building cottages
where loons nest? These small areas want jobs, and more and more cottages are coming. It will be very difficult to
convince people to stop building cottages, but I can see where Muskoka might lose its loons. That loss will be difficult
As a young boy, I played hockey in Timmins. I built my rinks on a little pond next door to my house. I go up there
from time to time, and that pond is not there any more. I do not know if it has evaporated, or whether someone built
on the property. Things have changed, even in Timmins.
Ten years ago, I went canoeing down the Albany River into James Bay. We wanted to fish. Many of the tributaries
into that river were dried up at that time. That was 10 years ago. At one time, I slept in the middle of where the rock
beds now are. Could the Albany River possibly dry up? How do you adapt? If I go canoeing up there, I had better be
prepared to go hiking. I do not see how we can adapt to these situations.
Senator Fairbairn: It was a good thing that the ponds were there when you were a boy.
Senator Tkachuk: Then you became a senator, so it is all luck.
Senator Mahovlich: I do not know where I am heading. Could you enlighten me on a few of those thoughts?
Mr. Pearson: Senator Mahovlich, you should be part of communicating the climate change issue to the country.
Those are exactly the kinds of stories that we need to tell; not the academic point of view but the real and personal, the
kind that make people think.
The other kind of events that make people think are the disasters. That is what stops people in their tracks and
makes them think. However, we do not want to wait for the disasters in order for people to realize that they must
contribute to a solution.
If people listened to stories from people like you, senator, that would have a significant impact. I cannot tell you
that the ice on the Credit River or the ponds have changed because of climate warming. We can tell you what generally
has happened in those regions, and say that probably it was due to warming. You do not have to have a scientific
answer to that question in order to be able to go to the country and say ``These are the kinds of changes that will be
experienced because of climate change.''
The other thing we need to tell people is that we cannot turn the clock back. We will not be able to turn the clock
back. The Kyoto Protocol will not turn the clock back; 40 Kyotos will not turn the clock back. We are looking at
trying to stabilize the climate. However, it will be a new climate. We will not go back to the climate of the days when
you were courting. We are moving to a different climate. The adaptation that we speak about today is what I mean
when I speak about the thin edge of the wedge.
We must adapt to a new climate. We are not adapting to temporary circumstances that will change again in the
future. We are adapting, as 6 billion people on the planet, to a new climate. We will have to grow things in different
places and live with different pressures.
Senator Mahovlich: You are telling me that we are not in a cycle.
Mr. Pearson: We are not in a cycle.
Senator Mahovlich: I spoke to some old timers around Muskoka who would tell me that they took a team of horses
across the lake. You now have to be careful with a skidoo.
Mr. Pearson: Treasure those stories and pictures.
Senator Mahovlich: We cannot go back to that period.
Mr. Pearson: We cannot go back to that period. We cannot turn the clock back.
Senator Day: Is there a model that predicts a new ice age?
Mr. Pearson: If you were to look at the temperature trends for the northern hemisphere until about the 1960s — and
I am talking here about the northern hemisphere and not the globe as a whole; not just Canada but the northern
hemisphere — you would find that there was a cooling trend, a downward trend in average annual air temperature. It
is that trend which is now kicking upward. Scientists will tell you that that cooling trend was the beginning of a trend
towards an ice age that was being induced by the change in the angle of tilt of the planet and the distance from the sun,
the orbital forces. The science of that is well worked out. If you look at the theoretical trends, the cooling of the
northern hemisphere fits just fine with changes in the orientation of the earth and its relationship to the sun.
It seems as if we have departed from that in the last 30 years. If there were to be a move towards an ice age, it would
be triggered by the fact that there would be open water in the Arctic, which might increase precipitation. It might be
triggered by more cold water coming out of the Arctic as the ice melts. That might interfere with the Gulf Stream.
There are some significant unknowns that relate to the atmospheric circulation, which Mr. Courtin was speaking
about, that might be contrary to the overall trend of global warming that we are speaking about at the moment,
Mr. Johnson: There are some models which suggest that the extra amount of fresh water that is being pumped into
the North Atlantic out of terrestrial ice could quite easily result in a change in the circulation of the oceans, and instead
of getting the current circulation through the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic and through the rest of the oceans,
that will cut off and there will be a change in the distribution of fresh water and salt water in the oceans, which would
potentially trigger another ice age.
There has been a recent paper predicting that change in the North Atlantic might well occur within this century.
There are some people out there who think that could well be a result of the warming trend that we are in at present.
Senator Chalifoux: Ms. Ogden, I was told almost a year ago in Nunavut that the elders were very concerned and
upset because they had heard noises that they had never heard in all their lives, the sounds of frogs and crickets,
coming out of the permafrost. Have you looked into the results of what is happening with the permafrost melting and
the effects of the insects? Not only that, but when this person was telling me this, I was thinking about the fact that the
permafrost has also kept many of the diseases and germs at bay for many years. Have you looked into what would
happen if the diseases and germs were to come back with the permafrost melting?
Ms. Ogden: I have heard stories as well from some of the reports in Nunavut that elders are hearing frogs and
crickets and seeing thunderstorms. There is a report from Sachs Harbour on Banks Island of seeing robins, and not
having a word for ``robin'' because it is something that those people have never seen there before. Those stories are
starting to abound across Northern Canada. There are insects, birds, wildlife and occurrences that are being seen that
have not been seen before, and the people do not have a word for them in their traditional language.
In terms of insects, diseases and permafrost patterns, I am more aware of their relationship to temperatures. For
example, the bark beetles and the white pine weevils, their ranges are moving northward. They are forest pests that
increase in higher temperatures. What happens in the wintertime is that the populations are kept in check with the
extreme cold temperatures. However, we are not getting those cold temperatures anymore. Those populations are
surviving over the winter months, and that is contributing to their expansion. However, I am not as familiar with
studies that might relate that to permafrost, and the melting of permafrost.
In terms of human health issues, that is another area where there is little information in terms of some of the other
human health issues that could arise as a result of climate change. There is a health network that is part of C-CIARN
that is looking into some of those issues and trying to track the movement of tropical diseases and things like that, such
as the West Nile Virus, because that could become more prevalent in the future.
Pertaining to northern Canada, I have not heard of that being an impact that is being seen at this point in time.
Senator Chalifoux: Regarding the Mackenzie Valley tributaries, the Athabasca River and the Peace River that flow
north into the Mackenzie River. Will that affect northern Alberta? I have always been concerned about the effluent
from pulp mills polluting the rivers. The Wapiti River was totally destroyed in the Grande Prairie area. Will that be
affecting the north? How will that affect northern Alberta and the mid-Canada corridor?
Mr. Johnson: Any of the effects in the headwater will certainly be felt down in the lower reaches of the Mackenzie
River, whether it is pollution, build-up in the lakes and then being transmitted further down the river itself, or just in
the regime of the river. The Peace-Athabasca delta area has undergone major changes as a result of activities in the
basin, and also as a result of changes in climate. Therefore, any changes that appear in the upper reaches of those rivers
will be felt all the way down the system. It has been noticeable already in changes in the period of ice formation and ice
break-up on the Mackenzie River. There is some evidence to suggest that some of the pollutant transfer has had effects
on fish populations in the river, on inconnu and on the populations of harvestable fish.
Senator Chalifoux: You are saying that all the studies and the work that you are doing not only relates to the Yukon
and the Northwest Territories; it is relates also to the provinces, especially the northern half, including Ontario and the
Mr. Johnson: Yes, certainly.
Senator Day: Thank you for your presentations, and the wealth of information that you have brought to our
attention. There are many issues here that we would like to talk about with you all day. My questions mainly pertain to
the issue of clarification, and having a chance to review your material with you again.
It would be easier for us to understand your slides if we had them in colour. Is that possible? Do we have those in
colour now? We have them in black and white, and they are difficult to read.
First of all, Ms. Ogden, I wonder if you could agree with me on my next comment, and perhaps extrapolate a little
bit. You have given sectoral analyses, but you also gave regional analyses. You were fairly detailed in your analysis of
the potential impact in the different areas of the north. Am I correct in interpreting this to mean that there can be some
significant differences in regions, even within the North — the Yukon and other regions?
Ms. Ogden: Yes, that is correct. The North is a very diverse area of the country and it is a huge land base: about 40
per cent of Canada's land base. The ecosystems range from near temperate in the southwest Yukon to High Arctic
tundra. We have mountains, plains, the boreal forest and the Arctic coastal plain. The impacts projected for each of
these regions are quite different. In addition, the temperature changes that are projected vary across the North. To
date, we have seen a bit of a cooling in the extreme eastern Arctic to a warming in the western Arctic, and less change in
some of the central Arctic and in Nunavut. Therefore, the geography, climate and ecosystems in the North are quite
diverse from coast to coast to coast. We are expecting differences because of that, in terms of climate change.
Also, communities are different from one place to another across the North. Some of the ways in which
communities respond and adapt according to what is important to them, in terms of climate change impacts, varies
from community to community. For example, in the Yukon, Watson Lake has a small forestry economy that is quite
different from Old Crow Flats, where the hunting of caribou is an important part of the culture and the way of life.
There are broad differences and interests in this issue from community to community and from region to region across
Senator Day: Some industry is encouraged to research for impact and adaptation. Because there is a much sparser
population in the North and, in some areas, much less economic activity, unless there is some public money, this will
just not get done in the North. Is that correct?
Ms. Ogden: That is correct.
Senator Day: On page 2 of the material that we have, a slide entitled ``Annual Surface Air Temperature Trends —
1948 to 2000'' is mentioned. I believe you said that was recently issued by the Government of Canada. It shows that, in
Eastern Canada, Northern Quebec and in the Atlantic Region, there has been very little temperature change over the
last 50 years, whereas there has been major temperature change in Alberta, parts of Saskatchewan and up into the
Yukon and the Western Territories. Am I interpreting this correctly?
Ms. Ogden: That is correct.
Senator Day: In the northern part of Quebec, at the polar cap area, it looks as though there has been almost no
change over the last 50 years. Is that correct?
Ms. Ogden: That is correct.
Senator Day: I also see that the next slide is entitled ``Projected Temperature Change.'' It indicates some significant
changes. Notwithstanding the fact that over the last 50 years there has been virtually no change, there will be some
significant change over the next 30 to 40 years because of increased CO2 and other gases. Is that correct?
Ms. Ogden: That is correct.
Senator Day: Does that slide include projections of other nations of the world and Canada meeting the Kyoto
Protocol commitments? I heard Dr. Pearson say that it does not matter much anyway; that we will spend a great deal
of money on the Kyoto Protocol but it will make a change of perhaps only a decade in terms of the effects. Did I hear
Ms. Ogden: I believe that this slide shows the business-as-usual case. Assuming that our economy grows at the same
rate as it is doing today, I do not believe this slide actually takes into account the projections for Kyoto. If Kyoto were
adopted, it would change this by about 10 years. It would be 1910 to 2050, as opposed to 1910 to 2040.
Senator Day: I appreciate that all of you are involved in impact and adaptation strategies, which are the effects on
the communities and what they have to do to adapt, if things continue going the way that they are, if we can rely on
this modeling. Are you familiar with a recent publication entitled Taken by Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and
Politics of Global Warming by Dr. Christopher Essex of the University of Guelph and Dr. Ross McKitrick of the
University of Western Ontario?
Ms. Ogden: I have not reviewed that publication.
Senator Day: You are familiar with it?
Ms. Ogden: I have heard of it.
Mr. Pearson: No, I do not know it.
Senator Day: Do you know these fellows?
Mr. Pearson: I think I may know the second person you mentioned from Guelph.
The Chairman: It sounds as though you are being set up.
Senator Day: I will give you a copy of this summary. The book is directed primarily towards the Kyoto Protocol,
which we will not discuss, and that is why I said earlier ``Where you focus is where our focus is. ``However, when we
read things such as the following: ``Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global
warming. The alleged warming crisis does not exist. `` On the second page, the author agrees with you: ``Kyoto will
reduce projected warming by only 0.06 degrees Celsius by the year 2050, and it would take as many as 40 such treaties
to stop alleged global warming.''
That is the same figure that you had used, which I thought was interesting. I will provide you with a copy of this
summary. If, after you have had a chance to look at it, you want to send us any comments, especially with respect to
the science, the predictability and how we might adjust, that might be helpful for us.
Mr. Pearson: Certainly. There is another recent publication from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, who
is really a representative of the public with no axe to grind on behalf of science, on one side or the other. I forget the
title of it but in essence it said: Is the science real? It was released on November 19. My colleague is looking at me as
though he might have a copy of it. You should have a look at that publication. The author is not a layperson because
he has a degree in biology, but he is a public servant as opposed to a scientist. He examines the kinds of papers and
publications that you mention. His assessment of the validity of the science is well written and it is worth while reading.
We will obtain a copy of that for you.
Senator Day: Our concern is that a great deal of money has to be spent and science be done. We want our
recommendation to be as informed as we can make it on where we should put our efforts over the next while.
Mr. Pearson: I will make a reference again to the Kyoto Protocol. You are right; he is right: Kyoto will make little
difference: 0.06 degrees, 0.15 degrees, 0.2 degrees will make little difference. However, if you are to run a marathon,
you need to get off the starting line with the first steps. Kyoto is the first step in a marathon. If you do not take those
first steps, you do not finish the race. If you do not play the first minute, you do not get to the end of the third period.
Senator Mahovlich: The first step is the most difficult.
Mr. Pearson: Kyoto is important because we need to take the first steps. I want to go back to something that is in
the context of your question now: to this business of the Arctic Ocean being open and the potential that has to cause
increased snowfall and to take us towards an ``ice age.'' There are good geological reasons to think that the ice age that
began in the northern hemisphere about 1.6 million years ago was related to open water in the Arctic Ocean. Northern
Canada is quite cold enough, right now, for there to be in existence a significant ice sheet over northern Canada. It is
not the temperature that is problem, it is the snowfall. If that snowfall increases in the northern part of Canada, it is
quite possible that there will be a significant snow cover that will lie through the year, change the albedo and make a
significant difference to the modeling that we need to be considering for 50 to 60 years from now. There are not just
small science questions for the future but big science questions, and that is one of them. If we all get together in 50
years in some place, then it would be most interesting to look at what the scientists are saying about the impact of an
open Arctic Ocean. It is a very big question mark.
Mr. Johnson: As an illustration for you on that, with the warming that has been taking place in the North Atlantic
and over the Nordic countries, there has been an increase in the amount of snow, and therefore an increase in the
massive glaciers in Scandinavia. Therefore that connection is already appearing of warming, open water evaporation
and more snow. Some people find it very difficult to draw the connection between warming and more snow.
Senator Gustafson: This committee had quite interesting testimony from five scientists who would only appear under
oath. It appeared that what they had to say was that scientific data depended on who paid the bill. If the government
were paying the bill, it would be one thing. If it were industry paying the bill, such as Monsanto, it would be another
thing. You recall we had quite a session on that.
Senator Fairbairn: That was on bovine growth hormone.
Senator Gustafson: Therefore there exists Much scepticism in the public about who to believe on these things.
Senator Wiebe raised that earlier.
The Chairman: We are back to where we began.
Senator Gustafson: How much money do you spend? It puts a decisive burden on the Senate committee when it
comes to writing recommendations.
The other thing is, if one small corner of the earth moves, and the rest does not move, not much will be
accomplished, in my opinion.
Mr. Johnson: If I may just respond to that, very often it is the interpretation of the data, not the data itself that is a
problem. Generally, however, you are raising the point that that if we are looking for increased support for research of
any kind it must include communication. It must be communication from the ground up, and it must be open and
transparent communication, whether it is government, industry or university. The communication component is
critical to any research scholarship effort.
Senator Gustafson: As scientists you will know about, and I am sure you follow closely, genetically modified grains.
The way this issue is going, one group of people says this, and the other groups says that.
Mr. Pearson: The answer to your first question depends whether there is an economic benefit at stake. That is key.
The Chairman: You have just had the last word because there is a committee waiting. I will not have time to ask my
question, but I would like to write it to you for an answer. I will have a letter sent to you.
On behalf of the committee, I thank you very much for a most excellent presentation. It was informative, it
stimulated us as you can tell by all the questions, and it will be very useful to our study.