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Emerging Issues Studies Project Summaries


Climate Change

Environment Canada: Climate Change and Water Quality in the Great Lakes Basin  

Gomes Consulting Enterprises Ltd. researched recent information to help Environment Canada to develop perspective on climate change impacts to the Canadian Great Lakes basin ecosystem, and to help guide future work projects. The primary focus of the study was on how projected climate change is expected to affect water quality in the Canadian side of the Great Lakes basin. The study also considered relevant information from the United States side of the Basin as well as other areas. The investigation provided an overview of the issues associated with the following anticipated climate change scenarios:

  • Increased air temperature
  • Increased precipitation
  • Changes in wind
  • Increased water temperature
  • Water level changes
  • Water movement changes (flow and circulation)

We investigated how various changes in water quality could result, either directly or indirectly, from these projected climate changes. This included identifying which of the 10 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (2012) Annexes were associated with each water quality impact. This was done to assist Annex leads to quickly identify which sections of the report were applicable to their management focus. Where possible, actual observed climate trends or changes were compared to projected climate change impacts. Summaries of the status of various water quality indicators were also provided. A gap analysis was done to identify gaps in climate change data and research.

In addition to the 57-page report, we also prepared a fact sheet, and an electronic (Microsoft Excel) spreadsheet that contained a searchable inventory of climate change research and data for the Great Lakes basin.




Emerging Global Environmental Issues

United Nations Environment Program/ Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment: Environmental Surprises since 1950

Glynn Gomes was involved in a joint study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) on emerging global issues in the 21st century. He coauthored a historical perspective illustrating how environmental issues evolved into global issues of concern since 1950. This report is found in a box in UNEP’s publication, Global Environment Outlook 2000, and discusses the causes of emerging issues:

  • Unforeseen issues (e.g., ozone depletion);

  • Unexpected events (e.g., various biological invasions, oil spills and accidental poisonings);

  • New developments (e.g., pollution, acid rain, climate change, tropical deforestation, consequences of resource management);

  • Changes in trends (e.g., climate change, resource depletion); and,

  • Shifts in environmental perception (e.g., caused by the Earth Rise photo of 1969, changes in focus of issues from local, regional to global, and focus on how issues are connected).

See the box on UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook 2000 (Chapter 4: Future Perspectives) website.




Emerging Environmental Issues in Ontario

Ontario Ministry of the Environment: Emerging Environmental Issues in Ontario since 1950

Gomes Consulting Enterprises produced a brief that described emerging environmental issues in Ontario since 1950, as contribution to the summary report for a joint Ontario Ministry of Environment/University of Toronto investigation workshop on emerging environmental issues in Ontario. Many of these emerging environmental issues are expected to impact the Great Lakes region, such as:

  • Global and atmospheric change (e.g., changing frequencies of extreme events, precipitation);

  • Species invasion (including disease migration);

  • Taste and odour problems in drinking water;

  • Fisheries issues;

  • Chemical contamination; and,

  • Endocrine disrupters and persistent organic pollutants. 

Participants in this workshop included members from various academic institutions, Environment Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.  

See Table 1: Emerging Environmental Issues in Ontario Since 1950 (page 3) of University of Toronto's Environmental Monograph No. 15: Emerging Environmental Issues in Ontario.