David Suzuki in St. John’s for climate change event

Film on impact in Atlantic Canada to precede panel discussion

Published on November 23, 2013
David Suzuki

Canada’s most well-known environmental activist will be among those taking part in a panel discussion tonight in St. John’s following the screening of a documentary film focused on climate change’s impact in Atlantic Canada.

David Suzuki, a scientist, author and retired academic who has hosted CBC Television’s “The Nature of Things” for more than 30 years, is touring Atlantic Canada along with filmmaker Ian Mauro, who helped create the film “Climate Change in Atlantic Canada.”

Tonight’s event is taking place from

7-9:30 p.m. at Gower Street United Church. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Network.

“When Dr. Suzuki found out about Dr. Mauro’s documentary, he was really enthused and interested in the subject ... especially in that Dr. Suzuki lives on the coast (in British Columbia) and he’s quite aware of the impact of climate change,” said Jean-Patrick Toussaint, a science project manager with the David Suzuki Foundation based in Montreal.

He, too, will be a part of the panel that follows the movie screening.

While Toussaint expects people in Newfoundland and Labrador may already be aware of climate change’s impact on coastal communities, it’s hoped they are also interested in hearing about solutions to dealing with climate change that are out there.

“Our idea, too, is to also convey what’s being done on such an important issue that affects all, especially in the Maritimes or people in the Atlantic Provinces,” he said.

Toussaint’s own work has focused on the potential for oil development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract oil has been a particularly hot topic in western Newfoundland.

Black Spruce Exploration wants to set up a fracking development on the west coast.

However, Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley announced earlier this month that an indefinite moratorium will be in effect until a thorough review and public consultations occurs in relation to the practice of fracking.

According to Toussaint, a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made it clear human activities are having an impact on climate, with the burning of fossil fuels foremost amongst such contributing activities.

“We know that we no longer can do the business as usual scenario, otherwise we’re going to go into climate scenarios that are going to be very hard for us to sustain the way of living that we have been blessed with,” he said.

“The issue of exploring oil and gas in the (Gulf of) St. Lawrence in particular, those reserves are not proven yet, and this is exactly the kind of oil and gas (exploration) that could exacerbate our climate situation.”

With documented cases of warming oceans and melting glaciers contributing to a rise in sea levels, Toussaint said coastal communities will have a lot to think about.

“For the coastal dwellers, this is an issue that’s very real and currently happening,” he said.

“We need to adapt. We need to cope with it, and we also need to avoid the worst of it.”

arobinson@thetelegram.com