by Mark Burgess
Hill Times, June 30, 2014
A new report from the government’s own Natural Resources Department on climate change adaptation released last week shows a growing recognition of the need to adapt to a changing climate but also highlights the gap between the research and the political action, critics and experts say.
The report, Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation [pdf], was written by 90 authors, 115 expert reviewers, and synthesized more than 1,500 recent publications. It looks at natural resources, food production, industry, biodiversity, protected areas, human health, and water and transportation.
“There is clearly a pretty big space between what the research and what experts are telling us about what’s going on and the political commitment on the part of governments and parties across the country to say, ‘This is real, we’ve got to do something about it,’” said David McLaughlin, former executive director of the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment, which the government cut in 2012. “This at least helps to advance the knowledge.”
In the report, posted without fanfare on the Department of Natural Resources website June 24, departmental researchers said the climate is changing—in fact it’s in the first sentence. The average temperature in Canada rose 1.5 C between 1950 and 2010, it says.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change, but additional impacts are unavoidable, even with aggressive global mitigation efforts, due to inertia in the climate system,” the report says. “Therefore, we also need to adapt.”
The report describes a number of impacts expected to come with climate change, including threats to biodiversity, the spread of diseases like Lyme disease and health effects from air pollution, and more extreme heat and extreme rainfall, meaning more droughts, floods and wildfires. It also outlines impacts on industries, including a lack of predictability for farmers, shorter snow seasons for winter tourism, and shifting flow patterns for hydroelectricity. Continue reading this article …