Opinion – Want fewer floods? Do something about climate change

By: Chris Burke

Time for the politicians, people, and business leaders of Alberta to start accepting the obvious fact: The floods experienced in Calgary are going to turn into a more frequent occurrence unless serious action is taken on climate change.  Serious action means decreasing, and eventually ending, production of the tar sands which are a serious contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

floodTO

In a more ideal world it wouldn’t take a disaster to get people to realize they need to do something to prevent more disasters from happening in the future, sadly that’s the way the wind blows.  The destruction brought upon New York by Hurricane Sandy was necessary for officials there to start paying attention to the reality that New York is vulnerable to extreme weather events.  Whether this will turn into a commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change is another matter.

There have been calls for better planning in Canadian cities to prepare for flooding, but will Calgary and Toronto be the wake-up call?  How much more damage in property, and loss of life, is required for leaders to get serious?  I’d like to see a discussion happen amongst politicians regarding the impacts climate change is going to have on our way-of-life.  Getting serious about the future would mean determining how much money goes into improving city infrastructures to be more resilient to flooding, and how much should go into plans aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Finally, the big one for Alberta, and Canada, what energy sources can be used in place of the tar sands.  Sorry, Alberta, but the need to reduce and end tar sands production is non-negotiable so start thinking about the alternatives.

However, the more likely scenario is that this conversation won’t happen.  Those of us trying to sound the warning bells will be regarded as “radicals” and “extremists”.  In that case, we’ll be left to say, “I told you so.  Enjoy counting your money underwater.”

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