March 2024


Spring officially started on March 21, but so far this year’s temperatures have been consistently higher than usual and this month was no exception (despite a brief return to cold in the middle of the month). The unusual temperatures have thrown off the timeline of seasonal changes, as animals like geese and black bears have shifted their usual patterns. The geese have returned from their annual migration, bears are awaking from hibernation, weeks ahead of schedule, reports CBC.

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

The associated lack of snowfall accumulation—and extensive thaw in mid-January—will also affect the spring freshet in the Ottawa River Basin. As of March 13, the amount of water in the snowpack was well below average across the basin. The Ottawa River Regulating Committee therefore predicts a mild start to the spring freshet season.

These high temperatures are continuing a longer-term trend that is being felt across the globe because of climate change and compounded by the El Niño weather system. In a historic first, the time period from February 2023 through January 2024 was the first time average global temperatures showed a 1.5°C rise from pre-industrial levels for every month during a 12-month period (though scientists were quick to point out that this statistic does not yet represent a breach of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which calls for preventing the temperature rise over a multi-year average).

Though El Niño is now weakening and is expected to end in the coming months, its impacts are continuing to have devastating impacts on crops and weather. And in Canada, experts say the milder-than usual winter could lead to a wildfire season even worse than 2023’s record-breaking year.

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

Stories from the PEN!

And now on to the Stories from the PEN, where you can read articles by individuals and organizations stepping up to engage in issues affecting our local communities.

Image Credit: Shania Ramharrack-Maharaj

From the Archives

By: Hayley Copan

In the March 2002 edition of the Peace and Environment News, a contribution by Jane Rowat addressed the question of “How Many are Hungry in Ottawa?”. Unfortunately, where there is an abundance of wealth and prosperity in the city, there is also a growing portion of the population that is facing food insecurity. In 2002, there were approximately 75,000 residents at risk of food insecurity, with the most vulnerable being children, seniors, single-parent families, immigrants, Indigenous peoples, and those who were homeless.

One of the main factors generating insecurity during this time was the rising cost of housing, which reduced the amount of money individuals could dedicate to food… Sounding familiar?

(ed.—you can read current hunger statistics for the city reported by the Ottawa Food Bank in the PEN’s December/January 2023-24 edition.)

Additionally, the lack of public transportation to grocery stores or farmers markets forced people to buy their food at higher priced convenience stores. A report titled “Food Security in Ottawa: A Community Profile” highlighted several barriers to resolving such issues, including a lack of information about the depth of food insecurity, fragmented community resources, and relatively few community-centred economic development initiatives. It also provided insight into a more comprehensive strategy that could be implemented within Ottawa to combat the rising threat of hunger and food insecurity in the years to come.

You can read the full article, as well as more from the March 2002 edition, in our archives.

Other News

  • The city’s draft climate resiliency strategy, Climate Ready Ottawa, is now available for public consultation. Find out how you can share your feedback here.

  • RCMP produced a rather depressed report about how looming threats from climate change, misinformation, government distrust, and a global recession will impact Canada’s future, which it predicts that "the situation will probably deteriorate further in the next five years, as the early effects of climate change and a global recession add their weight to the ongoing crises,” reports CTV.

  • This month, a list names the Indigenous artists from across Canada, who have been selected through the Ādisōke Indigenous Public Art program to create artwork for Ādisōke, the Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada joint facility. Read more here.

  • Have you been following the controversy over the federal government’s carbon pricing scheme? Ralph Torrie from Corporate Knights has a few things to say about that in this article, republished by The Energy Mix.

Thanks for reading!

Image Credit: C. Bonasia

—Christopher Bonasia, PEN editor

PERC appreciates all of our readers for giving us this chance to connect with members of our community, and we love being able to provide you with a forum to discuss pressing environmental and social justice issues.

But we also rely on your support to make this happen. If you are interested in helping our organization continue to use storytelling and networking to help individuals, non-profits, and community groups work locally for a greener and more peaceful world, please consider making a donation to the Peace and Environment Resource Centre. You can find out more on our website, or by using this link.

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