Climate change is real, and it's already affecting Hamilton.
In 2016, Environment Hamilton officially launched its climate change campaign with the specific goal of educating the public and advocating for our city to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate. While we are facing a global issue that cannot be solved by us alone, it is recognized worldwide the vital role cities have to play in helping stem the emission of greenhouse gases - but also how important it is we prepare our cities for the accelerating changes we've already begun to experience here at home.
The latest predictions for the future of Canada’s climate paints a fairly bleak and troubling picture, and Hamilton is no exception. The number of summer days over 30 degrees Celsius continues to rise annually, with the first frost day in the fall occurring later in the year. These changing temperatures impact human health, local wildlife, as well as local crops and vegetation. When hotter temperatures occur too early in the year, and when the first day of frost is delayed, wildlife migration patterns can be severely impacted. Many species such as butterflies and birds rely on hours of sunlight to determine migration times. However, their food sources such as plants and insects rely on temperature for determining growth times. By the time these animals return North, their food sources may no longer be available; flowers have already bloomed and wilted, and caterpillars have already grown into butterflies. Ultimately this lack of resources can lead to drastic population declines, impacting the food web and overall local ecosystem.
One particularly prominent issue in Hamilton tied to these warmer temperatures are the rising tick populations. Hamilton was officially identified as a risk area for ticks in March, 2018 due to the established populations found both in the fall and this spring. Black-legged and deer ticks are notorious for carrying and being able to transmit Lyme disease to humans, with symptoms including skin rashes, joint pain, headaches, fatigue, and a stiff neck. Untreated, symptoms can escalate to short-term memory loss, facial paralysis, or arthritis. While the American Dog tick (which has not been found to carry Lyme disease) is still the most prominent tick species in Hamilton, the black-legged and deer tick populations will continue to rise if no action is taken to reduce these drastic temperature changes.
Increased temperatures can lead to increased concentrations of ground-level ozone, reducing the overall air quality and increasing air pollution. Ground-level ozone can can cause a variety of symptoms such as difficulty breathing, irritation, and coughing, especially for at-risk groups such as children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. Rising temperatures also lead to increased energy consumption through heating and cooling units such as air conditioning. This increased use subsequently leads to homeowners paying more in electricity costs. Night radiative cooling, the temperature drop at night in the summer as long-wave infrared waves are released from the ground, is crucial to balance out the short-wave infrared radiation from the Sun. However, with rising temperatures and increased greenhouse gases such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide, this temperature drop is decreased, preventing the energy release and thus preventing surface cooling.
What we're doing about it
We have multiple key advocacy campaigns happening right now, you can read more about them by clicking on their links below.