Month: September 2020

The forgotten history of climate change science

The historical figure Eunice Newton Foote is illustrated standing in front of chemistry equipment, reading from a piece of paper.
Scientists Eunice Foote and John Tyndall are a few of the forgotten climate science pioneers (Illustrated by Carlyn Iverson, NOAA)

Greenhouse gasses trapping heat re-emitted from the Earth and as a result warming Earth’s atmosphere is not a new line of study. As early as the 1850s, scientists like Eunice Newton Foote and John Tyndall demonstrated that gases like carbon dioxide and methane were capable of trapping heat, but they are both relatively unknown for their contributions. Additionally, Tyndall went on to make many other discoveries before his death in 1893, including why the sky is blue.

Read more about the history of climate science here!

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!).