How to prepare for the impacts of climate change

The federal government provides background on this issue and questions to consider as part of the consultation, on its new Canada’s Approach to Climate Change website, available here.

The best way to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate is to mitigate those impacts. Mitigation reduces the risk of hitting tipping points that could have devastating impacts. For example, if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced quickly enough, the fear is that ice sheets could begin a process of melting that no one can stop. The melting of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets would cause huge sea level rise that would put most coastal cities under water. Another tipping point that we need to avoid is the death of coral reefs due to ocean acidification. Too much CO2 in the atmosphere leads to the oceans absorbing more CO2 , which then gets absorbed by the oceans and leads to ocean acidification. This harms shellfish as well as coral reefs, and because the ocean is an ecosystem, it has far-reaching impacts.

Even with mitigation of greenhouse gases, climate change will mean that food production is less certain, so wise societies will be prepared to share food so that people everywhere have enough to eat. Infrastructure will need to be built to be more resilient to a variety of severe weather scenarios.

Less developed countries will need financial help in order to adapt to a changing climate. It is right that developed nations provide financial support because developed nations contributed far more to climate change than less developed nations, and less developed nations will feel the impacts more severely due to greater vulnerability. Financing options such as a Tobin tax are definitely worth consideration.

Additional Resources:
  • Climate Matters interview with climatologist Paul Beckwith