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Climate change is having a real impact everywhere on the planet.
In southern Québec, average annual temperatures rose 1°C to 3°C from 1950 to 2011. According to Ouranos, this trend will continue, and annual temperatures will further increase by about 2°C to 4°C by 2070, and by 4°C to 7°C from 2070 to 2100. A rise in temperature of a few degrees may seem harmless, but it will have very real consequences.
Climate change increases the number and length of heat waves, which can have an effect on health. Children, seniors, and people with certain chronic illnesses are the most vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
Rising temperatures boost air pollution and extend the hay fever, forest fire, and wildfire seasons. This can cause breathing and cardiovascular problems in some people.
Global warming increases the number and intensity of natural disasters, which, apart from threatening public safety, have social, economic, and environmental consequences.
Because of climate change, many animal species may disappear along with their natural habitats. Some are already moving north. Certain exotic or harmful plant species are also starting to appear in some areas. This trend is likely to intensify. The rapid spread of ticks carrying Lyme disease in southern Québec is an eloquent example. Shorter seasons can also change the migration pattern of some species.
Climate change is already affecting transportation and infrastructure. For example, increased freezing and thawing is damaging road surfaces more and more. Thawing of the permafrost in northern Québec affects the stability of buildings, roads, and air strips. More intense precipitation events are also anticipated, which could result in more frequent landslides.
More frequent heavy rainfall will cause sewer systems to overflow more often, put more pressure on drainage systems, and increase the risk of flooding at interchanges, in tunnels, on roads, etc.
Rising sea levels and shrinking ice cover, combined with more frequent storms and freeze-thaw cycles, will aggravate the risks associated with shore erosion, coastal flooding, and floods in coastal municipalities in Québec. This will threaten any infrastructure located near water. These risks are a particularly important issue along the St. Lawrence, where about 60% of Québec’s population lives.
Many sectors of the economy, such as farming, forestry, mining, and tourism, are sensitive to climate change.
For example in the mining industry, climate is one of the main factors affecting operations both directly (sun, good weather, snow, ice) and indirectly (landscape and plants). Winter activities such as downhill skiing and snowmobiling will be threatened by rising temperatures. Higher temperatures may result in less snowfall, increasing the need for snowmaking operations, thus boosting costs for ski resorts. On the other hand, a number of recreational activities could benefit from a warmer climate. For example, it could mean a longer golfing season.
A number of other activities are or will be directly affected by climate change: drinking water supply and management, waste and storm water management, crop production and harvesting, the supply of energy for heating and air conditioning, hydraulic and wind energy production, and transportation. Lower water levels in the St. Lawrence could also disrupt the shipment of goods by water, which would affect the entire economy.
Extreme weather events are intensifying and occurring more and more frequently. Businesses are likely to be affected, with some experiencing a decline in income following a disaster and others even going out of business.
Climate change is a global problem that affects every part of the world. Extreme weather events such as violent winds, heavy rains, flooding, flash floods, shore erosion, and landslides are becoming more common around the world.
Since 1880, the average global temperature over both land and sea has risen 0.85°C. Snow and ice cover has decreased and sea levels have risen.
Continental glaciers are melting faster and faster, affecting water supplies in areas that depend on them. Thawing permafrost threatens the stability of buildings and infrastructure in the Arctic. The geographic distribution, migration patterns, and seasonal activities of a number of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species have changed in response to climate change. Ecosystem disturbances due to drought, storms, wildfires, and pest infestations are more frequent or more intense in many parts of the world.
The world’s oceans are also undergoing major disruptions. They are getting warmer and more acidic and water levels are rising. These impacts disturb ecosystems, threaten the survival of a number of species, and represent a risk for numerous products and services we count on.
Québec is no exception. Fortunately, there are solutions. See how you can take action.