Friday, December 17, 2010

Pay more attention to adaptation

Scott Vaughn in the Chronicle Herald (Canada): The Maritimes have taken a beating from severe weather events in the last few months. Three days ago, they were pounded with winds of up to 140 kph and heavy rains that left 79,000 Nova Scotia residents without power and caused flooding in New Brunswick.

In August, Meat Cove was at the centre of flash floods that severely damaged roads and bridges, and cut off communities for days. The Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office estimates the cost from that single two-day event to be over $7 million, including evacuation, repairs of public infrastructure and damages to private homes.

Two weeks later, in early September, Hurricane Earl brought with it high winds and heavy rains along the southern shore of Nova Scotia. Although damages from Hurricane Earl were less than predicted, according to media reports, one person died because of the storm, and power outages were reported in many counties.

…The question many are asking is whether these recent events, and similar ones in the past year, are one-time weather anomalies, or a glimpse of what we may face in the coming years because of the long-term impact of climate change. Canadians are demanding to know more about what climate change impacts mean to their communities and about their governments’ capacities to respond to these impacts.

Last week, my office released a report to Parliament that addressed whether the federal government is getting ready to face the long-term impacts of climate change. The report found that there is still no federal policy on adapting to climate change, and no strategy or action plan in place. This is alarming, given that the federal government has concluded, through its own scientific assessments, that climate change impacts are inevitable, and are already taking place in some parts of the country….

Tropical Storm Earl makes landfall in Nova Scotia, September 4, 2010, via NASA

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