Some Canadian cities will see their average temperatures rise by more than three degrees Celsius by 2050, according to a new study.
The study by the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich University took current climate data for the world’s 520 major cities and projected which city they would most closely resemble in 31 years from now.
Toronto’s mean annual temperature is predicted to increase by 3 degrees Celsius and feel like present day Washington, D.C.
Montreal’s temperature would climb by 3.2 degrees Celsius and would have a climate most similar to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ottawa’s mean annual temperature would change by 3.1 degrees Celsius and resemble current-day Pittsburgh, Pa.
Calgary is likely to experience a temperature change of 2.1 degrees Celsius and feel more like Lanzhou, China.
The researchers who carried out this study said the city comparisons can facilitate a better understanding of climate change at the global level.
“History has repeatedly shown us that data and facts alone do not inspire humans to change their beliefs or act,” lead author Jean-Francois Bastin said in the study.
Study co-author Emily Clark explained that each city’s infrastructure will determine the impact climate shifts will have.
“Cities tend to be built for very specific climate conditions, and some of the smallest shifts related to average precipitation, temperature, etc. can have large influence on their populations. These projections offer city planners a unique opportunity to plan ahead and it ideally encourages the citizens of the world to start implementing climate change mitigation strategies,” Clark said in an email to CTVNews.ca.
A recent report found that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and the impacts are already being felt.
“Climate change is here today; we’re dealing with it today. Last year there was a heatwave in Ontario and Quebec. It was estimated that 70 people died in Quebec as a result of the heatwave,” Miriam Diamond, professor of earth sciences at the University of Toronto, told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.
The heat is spreading to other regions with northern latitudes and shows no signs of slowing down. Scorching temperatures in Europe at the end of June raised the planet’s global average by 0.1 degree Celsius, in a record-breaking month.
“Length, frequency and intensity of heat waves are very likely to increase in the future. This increase can lead to a substantial increase in mortality over the next decades,” warned the European Environment Agency.
Temperatures could 'threaten human health'
As warm weather intensifies in countries around the world, there are concerns that some cities which are already hot could be rendered unlivable.
“Temperatures are simply going to rise too high. In fact, it’s estimated that right now, about one in three people will experience 20 days of temperatures that could threaten human health. That’s expected to rise to three out of four people worldwide; 75 per cent of the world population will experience temperatures that could threaten health by 2100,” Diamond explained.
Humans are unable to cool down their bodies by sweating once the “wet bulb temperature”-- a combination of humidity and the external temperature-- exceeds 35 degrees Celsius. Sowhile people search for relief to beat the heat, Diamond said reaching for the air conditioning will only make matters worse.
“Right now we air condition to make our lives acceptable, but air conditioning is actually the fastest growing use of energy in buildings. Energy use means right now greenhouse gas emissions because we don’t have enough clean electricity and clean energy. So, we air condition, we put more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and it increases global warming,” Diamond said.
“So whereas we can air condition ourselves today, our grandchildren aren’t going to be able to air condition their way out of this,” Diamond continued.
So what is the solution if we want to avoid deaths and illness because of increased heat, but can’t turn on the air conditioning?
Diamond suggested that while it’s up to politicians at every level of government to implement climate solutions, individuals can take action now.
“I can take public transit, I can drive a smaller car when I have to drive, I can eat less meat and I can turn down the air conditioning,” Diamond said.