SENS and U of S celebrate International Polar Bear Day
On International Polar Bear day, the U of S announced a commitment to reducing climate change by cutting building energy use across campus. Douglas Clark and Ryan Brook from SENS were on hand following the announcement to discuss their research and the impact of global warming on polar bears and communities in northern Canada.
Two up and one down – U of S commits to reducing building energy use on International Polar Bear Day
February 27, 2014 - Beginning in May, building temperatures at the University of Saskatchewan will be raised two degrees in the spring and summer and lowered one degree in the fall and winter. The commitment announced on International Polar Bear Day is expected to save the U of S about $200,000 in utility costs annually and reduce carbon emissions by 2,000 tonnes per year.
“As part of our campus Climate Action Plan, the U of S is committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 36,500 tonnes by 2020,” said Colin Tennent, associate vice-president of facilities management and co-chair of the U of S sustainability committee. “This energy management initiative will also provide a related advantage of reducing operating costs, which allows for greater opportunity for core academic and research activities at the U of S.”
Every year on February 27, Polar Bears International (PBI) challenges individuals and businesses to commit to reducing carbon emissions through its Thermostat Challenge. Saving energy produced by carbon-based fuels reduces emissions and can slow global warming.
Global warming is having a large impact on Arctic ecosystems, particularly on sea ice which polar bears rely to reach their seal prey. Research published by PBI’s chief scientist, Steven Amstrup, shows that unless action is taken to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stop global warming, two thirds of the world’s polar bears could be lost by the middle of the century and all of them by the end of the century.
“The window of opportunity to reduce the effects of climate change in the Arctic is closing rapidly,” said Douglas Clark, U of S Centennial Chair in Human Dimensions of Environmental Change. “We found that the region is changing quickly already. Communities around the Arctic are observing changes in sea ice and reporting more and more conflicts with polar bears. Climate change is not just an Arctic issue though; what goes on in the Arctic doesn’t stay there. Loss of Arctic sea ice already appears to be affecting weather patterns much farther south. ”
“We applaud the leadership shown by the U of S in taking the Thermostat Challenge and working to reduce its carbon footprint,” said Krista Wright, executive director of PBI. “Through this step, the university is helping raise awareness of how our daily actions impact the polar bear’s sea ice habitat. At the same time, they’re showing their commitment to action on climate change and a sustainable future. We hope other universities will be inspired to do the same.”
Clark gave a presentation on campus today on the ability of the Arctic to adapt to climate change and what that means for polar bears, Arctic ecosystems, and people living there. A lead author on the Arctic Council’s Arctic Resilience Report, Clark is part of the team assessing the region’s vulnerability to abrupt change.