Summer Skies and Smoke Pollution

A photograph of a West Kelowna beach during the daytime taken September 8 2020. The sky is visibly smokey, completely grey with no visible horizon. The sunlight reaching the beach looks darker than normal and red-shifted because of the smoke.
Smokey skies in West Kelowna (Brady Strachan/CBC)

As summer fades to fall, many of us might be hoping to walk outside (while physically distancing, of course) and soak up the remnants of sunny blue skies – only to be disappointed with grey smoke overhead. While British Columbia has had its fair share of wildfires, the current smoke blanketing southern BC is largely credited to our neighbours south of the border.

Throughout the summer, fires from Washington state and California have resulted in the dispersion of smoke into Canada as well as people out of their homes. Furthermore, a recent study from the University of Colorado Boulder has found that many areas in California and Colorado are becoming less resilient to fires, and that many affected forests are projected to become permanent grassland. The study highlights the importance of battling climate change before changes become permanent (read the press release here).

Increasingly severe fire seasons in North America are starting to serve as a near-annual reminder that the changing climate is a global problem and that disasters in one part of the world tend to have negative impacts elsewhere. Here’s how you can protect your lungs from smoke this fall (hint: the advice is largely one that’s been echoed throughout 2020 – stay inside!).

Renewables surpass coal in US energy generation for first time in 130 years

Coal has been experiencing a downward trend in recent years, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdowns have caused a reduction in electricity demand and companies have spare energy to choose from. Of which, coal is normally the last picked because of its relatively expensive cost. See the full article here.

“What lifestyle changes will shrink your carbon footprint the most?”

A new article shows the amount of impact different lifestyle changes can have on your carbon footprint. The author notes that the lifestyle changes that she has implemented have actually ‘enriched her life’, an important note because sometimes climate friendly lifestyle changes can be misconstrued as arduous. See the article here.

The problem with saying Canada’s not the problem

Some say that the 1.6% of total global emissions that Canada is responsible for is minuscule and that “we’re not the problem”. However, Canada is still ranked as the tenth largest emitter in the world and among the highest emitters per capita- more than China and India. The top 5 emitting countries only account for 56.6% of emissions. A global problem cannot be solved by 5 countries alone. See the full story here.

Photo Source: United Nations

How to have conversations about climate change

Humans are heavily influenced by the actions of their peers. Therefore, not shying away from having climate change conversations with your family and friends is very important in shifting thinking towards climate change as a society. This handbook goes over things to keep in mind while having these conversations.

Photo Source: Washington Post

How saving the ozone layer in 1987 slowed global warming

The 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international agreement that successfully stopped chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from destroying the ozone layer, has now been found to successfully slow the rate of climate change as well. This shows that international agreements can be successful in limiting greenhouse gas emissions. See story here.

Photo Source:  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

10 things to know about the Emissions Gap 2019

In our last post, the term ‘Emissions Gap’ was introduced. For more background information on this term, click here.

Photo Source: UNEP

Earth set to warm 3.2 C by 2100 unless efforts to cut emissions are tripled, new UN report finds

Recently, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its annual Emissions Gap Report. It’s stated that Earth is set to warm 3.2 C by 2100 unless efforts to cut emissions are tripled. Find the story here to see how G20 countries currently plan to reduce emissions (that must be tripled) vs. current levels, in other words, the Emissions Gap.

Photo Source: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Explanation of Global Warming

Photo Source: NASA


Hello! And welcome to the new Awareness of Climate Change through education and research (ACER) website. We will be using this site to showcase the work we do at Vancouver Island University (VIU) and bring exposure to some of the current news surrounding conservation and climate change.

To begin things, here’s an article on rising temperatures in Australia.