The real Canadian crisis: Climate change

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

While Canadians obsess over the Jody Wilson-Raybould “affair”, Canadian politicians – as well as many of us – are asleep at the wheel regarding climate change, the real Canadian crisis. On April 1, Canadian scientists released the first set of reports on Canada’s future in the context of global warming.

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

While Canadians obsess over the Jody Wilson-Raybould “affair”, Canadian politicians – as well as many of us – are asleep at the wheel regarding climate change, the real Canadian crisis. On April 1, Canadian scientists released the first set of reports on Canada’s future in the context of global warming.
“Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action” is online. In fact, this work resembles an online book, because several reports
will be published online between 2019–2021. They will present “the national assessment of how and why Canada’s climate is changing, the impacts of these changes on our communities, environment, and economy, and how we are adapting.”
Canada’s Changing Climate Report was reviewed by national papers, plus CBC and CTV, but the report has not had the extensive pundit-analysis and crisis-profile Jody and Justin are “enjoying”.
And that’s too bad, because while Parliament gnaws at the bone of who did what to whom first, Canada’s Changing Climate Report tells us that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.
Being first is worst
Scientists say Canada’s average temperatures are 1.7ºC higher in 2019 than 70 years ago, while Canada’s Arctic has warmed 2.3ºC. Meanwhile, global temperatures have risen 0.8ºC. We’re told Canada’s warming is more extreme than anywhere else on Earth.
Ramifications today
Warming is occurring more rapidly in winter, where the average temperature increase between December and February is 3.3C. This means, more rain in the southern regions. Here in southern Quebec, we know how devastating the ice storm of 1998 was. In the Pontiac we also know how devastating the 2017 floods were, where many Pontiacers lost their homes.
However, in the North, by 2050, the Arctic may be completely ice-free one month a year. Also, Canada’s permafrost is melting, which spells disaster for northern communities. Think infrastructure upheavals plus the direct cost of subsidies to support isolated communities in peril. (In fact, one wonders: can northern communities survive?) Remember that in 2017–18, for more than a year the 900 residents of Churchill, Manitoba lost their only land-link to Winnipeg because melting permafrost flooded railway tracks.
Impact of warmer climate
What else is happening right now that will surely increase? One example: invasive insects are increasingly endangering our lives, livelihoods, and environment. Ticks are invading further and further north, carrying potentially deadly Lyme and Powassen viruses.
Also, many of us are discouraged by the death of ash trees infected with Emerald Ash Borers. In Ottawa, ash trees represented 25% of Ottawa’s urban forest, with almost 100%  dead or dying thanks to this Asian insect. The trees’ removal is expensive plus replanting with native, hardy species is pricey. Birch, beech and other trees are the next targets of invasive species. Forests are suffering, right now, leading to major concerns in the forest industry and private woodlot managers.
The future?
Canada’s Changing Climate Report explains, “In the future, a warmer climate will intensify some weather extremes. Extreme hot temperatures will become more frequent and more intense. This will increase the severity of heatwaves and contribute to increased drought and wildfire risks. While inland flooding results from multiple factors, more intense rainfalls will increase urban flood risks. It’s
uncertain how warmer temperatures and smaller snowpacks will combine to affect the frequency and magnitude of snowmelt-related flooding.”
What can we do? For one thing, Carbon Tax. If BC can benefit, why can’t all Canadians benefit if a pan-Canadian carbon tax system is embraced? I think there’s benefit, but possibly you disagree. How to gain consensus to move forward on climate change?
BC’s website explains: “In 2008, the province implemented North America’s first broad-based carbon tax, proving that it’s possible to reduce emissions while growing the economy. Between 2007 and 2015, provincial real GDP grew more than 17%, while net emissions declined by 4.7%.”
I just hope such initiatives we Canadians devise are not too little, too late.