Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Adapt now to climate change, panel warns

Tanya Talaga in the Toronto Star: Ontario needs to construct flood-proof roads, improve building guidelines and enact local emergency response plans to cope with extreme weather threats, warns a blue-ribbon report on combatting climate change. That grim news comes from Ontario's 11-person expert panel on climate-change adaptation, which includes Dr. Ian Burton and Dr. Barry Smit, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

They are urging Premier Dalton McGuinty's government to use their 96-page report, the culmination of two years of work, as the province's template for coping with the changing climate.

Temperatures are steadily on the rise and flooding, droughts and severe weather scenarios need to be considered in most infrastructure planning, they say. The latest projected climate scenarios for Ontario in 2050 show an increase in the annual average temperature of 2.5 C to 3.7 C compared to what was seen from 1961 to 1990. The Far North will be hit the hardest by climate change, experiencing more snow and greater flooding, affecting roads, bridges and First Nations communities.

While Ontario can play a part in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, what actually happens to the broader climate depends on the actions of other countries, the report noted. "Adaptation, however, is much more within our control," it says. "Adapt, we can and must."

By this spring Ontario should produce a "climate change adaptation action plan," able to guide policy creation in everything from physical infrastructure – such as building better roads and bridges – to agriculture, water, at-risk species and human health, the report said….

Attention, heraldry lovers, that's Ontario's coat of arms, rendered by Necronaut

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