Thursday , May 6 2021

"This is a call to awakening:" It is necessary to act quickly on the rising sea, experts say

The worrying figures this week on rising seas in Atlantic Canada should encourage governments and citizens to move faster to coastal buildings and vital traffic connections, flood experts say.

Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Waterloo University Adaptation Center, said in an interview Friday that projections from 75 centimeters to one meter of relative sea level rise to the east coast by the end of the century "wake up" the call and arms. "

It has reacted to the seventh chapter of the Canadian Climate Change Report, which includes the research of federal science on raising sea levels under various scenarios of emissions developed by Canada and the Environment and Climate Change.

Feltmate points to the predictions of a four-way flooding study along the Halifax coast while sea levels increase by 20 centimeters from the current level up to the middle of the century.

Blair Greenan, a federal oceanographer overseeing the oceanic report chapter, said in an interview that without any flood adjustment measures during a storm in Halifax will be visible in just a decade, as the relative sea level increases by about 10 centimeters.

"It will probably double," he said during the interview. "It is an important point that South Atlantic Canada is Canada's most risky area to raise sea levels."

Blair Greenan is a federal oceanographer. (CBC)

The Atlantic region faces the double-effect of rising seas and falling shores, according to the study.

It states that, although in most of the country the coast is recovering from glaciation – which helps to raise sea levels – the eastern coast continues to tune.

Feltmate said the report had documented less drastic outcomes in the scenario with lower emissions, he believes the current "high emission scenario" – where current fossil fuels continue to burn – is more likely to be.

"That [high emission scenario] this will happen, "he said, adding that he had attended the last G20 meetings and had not heard the firm commitments of the states to even meet the goals set out in the Paris Accord.

View of Minas Basin from Kingsport Beach. (Anjuli Patil / CBC)

The federal study also highlights the vulnerability of Chignecto Isthmus – a small, 20-mile stretch of land joining New Scotland to New Brunswick, Feltmate said.

The Canadian press recently reported the risk of a major part of the east coast being interrupted if the key merchant corridor was flooded due to the strong overcrowding of the embankment last upgraded more than 50 years ago.

A technical assessment seeking solutions to a possible corridor damaging damage is expected to start this spring and last for 12 to 18 months, according to provincial officials.

Once the options are put, governments have to agree on how and how much they will spend. For all options presented in 2016 it takes at least five years.

Time had to be picked up, Feltmate said.

"This report should act on the adaptation of steroids in response to that. We have to act faster than we are currently."

Nancy Anningson, Co-ordinator for Coastal Adaptation at the Center for Environmental Action, says that part of the response to rising sea levels is more stringent in building rules and preserving swamps.

Nancy Anningson is the Senior Coordinator for Coastal Adaptation at the Halifax Ecological Action Center. (CBC)

She said that the recently introduced Law on Protection of the Coastal Area in New Scotland was a big step in the right direction, although law enforcement would take more than a year.

However, the environmental group encourages the Liberal Government in New Scotia to quickly explore some form of rebate program – similar to the energy efficiency programs offered to house owners – to encourage people to change their structures or away from the coast.

"It's scientific reality, what are we going to do now to prepare?" Anningson said.

One of the key responses would be for the province to begin to provide detailed assessments of how rising sea levels will affect coastal residents, she added.

Her organization has established a site to give building owners room to gather basic information.

Jason Thistlethwaite, a professor of environmental and business at Waterloo University, says all Canadian jurisdictions should also start quickly with providing easily accessible flood risk maps for citizens.

In other countries, the G8 maps are used to raise public awareness and help create political will to invest in sea-level preparation, he said.

The storm broke the water across the highway at the entrance to Brackley Beach at P.E. National Park in November 2018. (Posted by Justin Clow)

A recent study conducted by his research team has shown that many Canadians lack access to clear maps that tell them about the risks of their property, and which actions need to be taken to prevent flooding, he said.

"This report shows the urgency of this issue … This reminds us that climate change will have disproportionate influence on the northern countries and we are one of them," Thistlethwaite said in an interview on Saturday.

One of the key reports is that Canada warms twice as fast from the rest of the world and is "effectively irreversible".


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