Experts: Earth Day | April 22

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Published: 20Apr2021

Earth Day, celebrated annually on 22 April, will again see more than 1 billion people participating in activities around the world to draw attention to the urgency of the climate crisis and environmental degradation and the need for immediate action. Many important environmental events have happened on Earth Day since its inception in 1970, including the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2016. The theme for this year – the second Earth Day Live digital event - is: Restore our Earth. (United Nations)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Associate Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Bieler School of Environment

Earth Day should not be a day to explore guilt or fear, but rather a day to celebrate and dream. The world has turned a momentous corner and much has changed in Canada and elsewhere since April 22nd last year. This year, we should be spending Earth Day envisioning positive futures.”

Chris Barrington-Leigh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Bieler School of Environment and an Associate Member in the Department of Economics. His research makes use of subjective well-being reports to address the relative importance of social and community-oriented aspects of life as compared with material consumption.

chris.barrington-leigh [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Eric Galbraith, Full Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Over the past year, COVID-19 has taught us that life can change quite quickly – we are not so locked into a single way of living as we used to think. This Earth Day marks a special moment in history, where we can take the COVID-19 lesson of just how dramatic change can be and apply it – deliberately – to rebuilding society for sustainability and well-being.

Eric Galbraith is a Full Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. His current work aims for an integrative understanding of global sustainability problems, combining Earth system science approaches with simple representations of the global human system.

eric.galbraith [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Shaun Lovejoy, Full Professor, Department of Physics

There are exciting new developments in climate modelling that can reduce the uncertainty in climate projections for 2050. There is room for optimism internationally, with the United States recommitting to the Paris Climate Agreement and China committing to being carbon neutral by 2060. However, the current climate situation is alarming in both Quebec and Canada. Provincially, the CAQ government plans to fund only 40% of the mitigation measures needed to bring us to our already inadequate 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets. As for Canada, the federal government is more concerned with propping up the oil industry (+ 15 billion dollars in subsidies in the last year) than in transitioning to renewable energy sources.”

Shaun Lovejoy is a Full Professor in the Department of Physics, where he specializes in atmospheric dynamics and climate predictions and modelling. He is the author of Weather, Macroweather, and the Climate: Our Random Yet Predictable Atmosphere.

shaun.lovejoy [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

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