We can do no wrong – or can we?
What to do? The answer is two-fold:
1) adapt to the unavoidable impacts, and
2) prevent climate change from worsening.
“Climate Prosperity” is a good thing. Defined up front, it is the ability to identify impacts, develop response, and deal with impending climate change. While it is indeed a positive term, let it be known that the impacts
of climate change are indeed serious and overwhelmingly negative — yes, even for Canada — but that by adapting to it, and stopping a worsening of climate change, we can push through it.
This was the theme of my morning yesterday when I attended a launch-pad event of Climate Prosperity, a series of investigative reports into climate change impacts on Canada done jointly by the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment and the Royal Canadian Geological Society.
Speakers at the event included Eva Ligeti, Executive Director of the Clean Air Partnership, who discussed the vulnerability of cities in Canada. While Halifax is perhaps an obvious one, with sea level rise and increasing ocean and storm surges at its doorstep, the less obvious ones might be more intense rain storms and flooding in Peterborough, or water source scarcity for Saskatoon or Regina.
Paul Kovacs, Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss was also in the room. “We have a real crisis,” he stressed. He went on to explain that Canada is already faced with a $400-billion infrastructure deficit in infrastructure – and climate change will only make that worse. His institute is working with engineers to figure out new ways to make roofs withstand hurricane winds and building codes including resilience measures to flooding and storms.
The Publisher of Canadian Geographic, Andre Prefontaine, was delighted to introduce this month’s issue of Canadian Geographic, which tells an in-depth story of impacts of climate change in Canada. The story is clear indeed, with titles like “Can you afford catastrophe insurance?”, “Are overheated cities our biggest health threat?” and “Predicting the cost of warming.”
When reading the over arching title on the magazine cover, “Can you prosper in a hotter, wetter world?” the answer is inevitably. “Yes, if…”
It is a big “if” – that “if” includes the Government of Canada and all provinces making very important decisions towards how we deal with the impacts upon us and — most importantly — how to stop further disasters
like this from coming at us. Leaders have a responsibility and, most simply, a choice in front of them: to do the right thing, or to not do the right thing.
We have learned that “we can do no wrong” does not apply in the scenario of climate change. We caused it, and we will solve it. Making the right choices means cutting subsidies to oil and coal, shift those investments to renewable energy, regulate industry emissions, and create tighter efficiency laws. These energy solutions as a whole are capable of cutting the emissions contributing to climate change.
While yes, adapting to these impacts is necessary, these impacts are ultimately among the strongest rationale — and perhaps even moral imperative — of why we as Canadians are calling for a change in the direction of leadership in this country.