Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Drought the biggest threat to Canada's prairie provinces

The Leader Post (Canada): While efforts to reduce greenhouse gases can mitigate climate change, the future of the Prairie provinces will depend on our ability as societies to proactively adapt to climate change. That was the message Greg Marchildon delivered to delegates attending Tuesday's symposium on climate change sponsored by the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy. They discussed public policy in terms of adaptation to global warming, climate change and the scarity of water resources.

"The semi-arid Palliser Triangle (southern Saskatchewan and Alberta) is the second-most vulnerable environment in Canada," said Marchildon, the director of SIPP. The area's vulnerability has less to do with the rise in temperature than the impact climate change and rising temperatures will have on water, he said "The single-biggest risk for the Canadian prairies is drought, significant and prolonged drought,'' he added.

In 2006, warmer-than-average temperatures were recorded across the world for the 30th consecutive year, a new Statistics Canada report noted. The report went on to say one of the greatest concerns associated with climate change is the anticipated increase in the frequency of extreme weather events.

Darrell Corkal, a water quality engineer with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), said the prairies can learn from the past. "When we take a look and hear about water scarcity, the biggest issue for us in the region is understanding that we live with a variable water supply -- we have sometimes too much and oftentimes not enough,'' he said. "Repeated droughts in the past are expected to occur in the future whether or not we believe in climate change and if climate change is superimposed upon the historical record it makes the situation potentially worse. If you accept those scenarios then we need to find ways of dealing with those increased vulnerabilities.''

Abandoned grain elevators in Neidpath, Saskatchewan, by "Drm310," Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2

No comments: