As we examine the urgent need to address climate change, I’d like to look at how it is affecting Canada. The first thing all Vincentians should include in any discussion about climate change is something Pope Francis mentioned in Laudato Si when he stated that there are plentiful examples that “point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet…”.

On a recent vacation to our own Atlantic regions we took a boat cruise on which we learned that due the rising ocean temperatures, lobsters have moved further north, thereby reducing the harvest along the eastern USA while our own Atlantic regions have seen an increase. In addition, the warming waters have forced the now endangered Right whale to move further north, leading them into busy shipping lanes, where they suffer many deaths upon collision with the ships.

Our Arctic regions are seeing increased temperatures, melting ice and higher sea levels, which in turn has some dramatic effects on humans. More extreme weather has led to more and stronger wildfires, droughts and flooding. We tend to examine how climate change affects humans. I’d like to discuss its effect on our Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Indigenous People have always had a much deeper understanding of how humans should live and the need to respect nature, including their own spiritual and cultural inclusion of nature into their everyday lives. There is evidence of how warmer temperatures make hunting more dangerous due to melting ice. There have been instances of hunters and fishermen falling through the softer ice. Warmer weather can also mean food sources move farther away from Indigenous hunters, making for longer hunting expeditions and in some cases less food for their families.

Extreme heat can result in our more vulnerable population to experience an increase in health issues such as heat stroke, respiratory failure and other issues. They often cannot afford to take measures to relieve the heat and so they are more apt to suffer more. The higher cost of heating and cooling can increase hydro costs which lead those least able to afford it to make some very difficult choices. We simply must act now on climate change.

About the author:

Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.

 

Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


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