The recent weather disaster in British Columbia is yet another wakeup call telling us that no matter what is done to combat climate change mankind must accept the reality that severe weather-related events will continue to cause catastrophic impact on life as we know it. Also, it is a reality that global societies will rely on fossil fuels for decades to come and an expanding global population that strives for current day energy hungry lifestyles is a certainty. The planet has never experienced such conditions as this before. Consider this, in 1972 when the first World Climate Summit was held in Stockholm Sweden the world’s population was 3.85 billion. Today it is 7.7 billion and according to the United Nations it is set to grow by 2 billion more by 2050 when the world is meant to reach “net zero” emissions status. This is the basic problem facing the fight against climate change and Greta Thunberg plus all the climate activists and experts in the world cannot dispute this reality.
To illustrate this, consider just the State of California. In 1900 the population of California was about 1.5 million and today it is 39.6 million. (That is more than the population of Canada). California is a state on a seismic fault line with more earthquakes than you can count, and a terrain that produces wind tunnel effects in the canyons. How can you put 38 million more people on its surface along with major construction, highways and farmlands and not expect that the climate will not be affected and that natural disasters will have catastrophic affects?
Even NASA confirms that we are committed to a continuing level of extreme climate change and responding to it involves a two-pronged approach. One being to reduce or mitigate emissions and stabilize the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The other involves adapting to the catastrophic weather events that will surely face us.
The recent COP26 Glasgow conference requires that vast amounts of money and resources be allocated to reduce the use of fossil fuels and a variety of plans to lower our carbon footprint be implemented. Will mankinds attempts accomplish what is hoped for? Who knows, for sure much of the population will never live long enough to know.
What appears to be missing is the same commitment to adapt to this certain future that will see changes to the landscape of the world. Perhaps more emphasis should be placed on protecting vulnerable locations on the planet that are at high risk of destruction by wind and water. For example Abbotsford BC is a case in point along with cities like New Orleans and the myriad of other locations on earth that depend on dikes and levees to survive. Would it not be prudent to shift more funding for adapting to extreme weather that critically impacts areas of concern both now and in the future? This may well provide better actual net results and value in dealing with climate change, especially in the short term, than some of the questionable schemes that merely hope to save the planet or at best bring a marginal effect on mitigating climate change in years to come.
One can only hope in the long run that both mitigation and adaptation efforts will be prudently applied to give the coming generations our best shot at leaving them a world that they can enjoy and prosper in. Never forget that ‘mother nature’ will be the determining factor at the end of the day.
by Roy Merkley