With all the modern developments in the world, there is one aspect that a lot of people don’t like to think about too often. Global warming is believed by many experts to be the single biggest threat that humanity faces today, whatever climate change denialists may say. The most dangerous aspect of climate change is that it can be so incremental that it almost goes unnoticed by most people over the course of their everyday lives. The Arctic and Antarctic sheets are melting, and the sea level is certainly rising, but at a rate of 3.5 millimetres a year you’d be forgiven for not noticing.
Nevertheless, it is still true that our sea levels are rising faster now than they have in the preceding 300 years, a fact that should be enough to strike fear into the hearts of anyone. If that weren’t enough, suddenly a lot of people are feeling the effects of global warming. Changing general weather patterns, prolonged droughts and massive storms are all being seen around the world. While we don’t know the exact timeframe, a few predictions have been made that now seem absolutely certain. Included in these forecasts is the fact that certain parts of Canada will be underwater, very probably within the next 100 years.
Climate Central is a scientific non-profit organisation based in New Jersey, dedicated to researching the effects of climate change in various ways. The team has put together maps that show the effects of rising sea levels on Canada’s salt-water coasts. Even without factoring in the worst-case scenario of the West Antarctic ice sheet beginning an unstoppable collapse, which might happen but which has not been included in Climate Central’s calculations, the maps are a grim warning. Is it possible that such flooding will ensure that the only place you see Alaskan fishing as it exists today is in the online casino slot game of the same name?
Will you need to play this game at JackpotCity and your other favourite casinos from your lifeboat if you happen to be in Canada? The reality is, maybe! We’ve already seen floods in Amhurst, Nova Scotia, that led to the evacuation of a seniors’ complex, and the Tantramar Marsh that links this province with New Brunswick and the rest of mainland Canada is one of the two areas of Canada predicted to definitely be underwater by 2100. The other is thousands of miles away, on the opposite coastline; Richmond, Delta and areas of Abbotsford Coquitlam will be submerged.
Frightening as this is for current residents of these areas, that is by no means the extent of the problem. A huge amount of trade and industry exists in these areas. An estimated CAD 50 million passes through the isthmus between Nova Scotia and mainland Canada on railway lines and the Trans-Canada Highway, and both will be jeopardised by the predicted floods. In addition, one of Canada’s international airports is located in Vancouver within the areas that are at risk. The populations in these places are growing all the time and accommodating the number of “climate refugees” abandoning these areas is simply too big a task for any nation to imagine.
If it’s not going to work to leave risk areas, in terms of the economy and accommodating displaced people, the only thing to do is take measures to prevent the worst effects of the flooding and to nullify the dangers, such as water barriers. That’s going to cost a lot of money, but it is possible and seems likely to be the best solution. Proper plans are not yet in place, but the Amherst mayor has requested that the 275-year-old dykes that prevent the Tantramar Marsh from bursting its banks be bolstered as a matter of urgency, and Simon Fraser University Earth Sciences Professor John Clague says billions of CAD will need to be spent on various flood defences.
New design standards are currently being developed by the government, but we really need to think long-term. Any measures that we take may only buy us time, rather than solve the problem. We need to think vary carefully and act very swiftly - no easy combination.