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GREENINGS: Preventing chaos, mass starvation (Dec. 2018)

December 30th, 2018 · No Comments

We need a ministry of adaptation

I live in the city, have given up driving and most of my hobbies that produce a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, so I’m thrilled that the new carbon tax is finally getting implemented.

I have huge respect for Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Her devotion to mitigating climate change through the recently announced carbon tax is laudable. But what the Liberal government needs to do now is to appoint a minister responsible for climate adaptation.

We need to come to terms with the fact that the battle is largely lost and we need to adapt to changes that have already taken place and those that are yet to come. Long-term planning is essential if we are to prevent chaos and mass starvation.

We cannot wait until existing agricultural regions are decimated before acting, and swathes of growing regions around the world are lost to climate change. Nearly half of all food is wasted, so while mass starvation could be staved off if people conserved calories more carefully, a massive loss of food production will inevitably lead to famine and a spike in food prices.

We shouldn’t wait until the crisis hits. There should be plans in place to increase domestic food production in ways that don’t cause increased stress on our bee population or our water resources. For example, finding ways to help farmers transition from resource-intensive animal products to plant-based products will be essential for long term survival. And, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and increasing the farm capacities and providing well-paying farm jobs should be top of mind.

We also need to develop policies for sheltering displaced people.

Five-hundred-year flood events are now almost an annual ritual in some parts of the country, and we can no longer rely on past data to determine future risks.

Insurance companies know this, and governments have foolishly stepped in to cover flood risks, which does little but encourage growth in unsafe areas. We must plan to permanently relocate people from flood-prone regions, and stop rebuilding areas that will flood once more within a decade. Rebuilding consumes resources and causes heartache for all involved, but putting policies in place now to move people to higher ground will make the work less politically charged when the time comes.

What will be our policies about accepting climate refugees from abroad?

Canada should decide now how we will deal with climate refugees that come knocking at the door. There will be millions of displaced people at our borders with no home to return to, having left lands devasted by forest fires, drought, and floods. Developing policies now will help us deal with the onslaught down the road and create less chaos when the time comes.

How will we help displaced northern Indigenous people?

The permafrost is melting. The way of life for many of our First Nations people will forever be changed because of climate change. There needs to be a plan put in place, developed with the consultation of elders, to help Indigenous people cope with the loss of ice, food sources, and animals that they depend upon. It is bad enough now that we have reserves with no clean water. If we are to have peace and reconciliation, a bigger effort needs to be made to reach out to elders now, about how we can help communities adapt to what is to come.

The climate has changed, and what it brings next will likely destroy the systems we have built over the last several hundred years.

Plantations cannot be moved overnight. Putting forethought into planning for a changed climate is imperative for our survival.

Terri Chu is an engineer committed to practical environmentalism. This column is dedicated to helping the community reduce energy and distinguish environmental truths from myths.



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GREENINGS: Choosing the lesser evil (Election Special 2018)

GREENINGS: Reduce, reuse, and then recycle (May 2018)

GREENINGS: Car-free parenting is not rare (Spring 2018)

GREENINGS: The science of board games (Mar. 2018)

GREENINGS: Driving fuelled by unseen subsidies (Jan. 2018)

GREENINGS: No solutions for nobody’s problem (Dec. 2017)

GREENINGS: Celebrate science not milestones (Nov. 2017)

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Tags: Annex · Life · Opinion