The effects of climate change are growing faster and faster, harming people around the world and costing Canada billions of dollars from wildfires in the West, a new report from the world’s top global warming research body says. damage has been done. ,
“It’s happening faster, more seriously and more broadly,” said Sherrily Harper of the University of Alberta, one of 330 authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s summary report released Monday.
“We know what needs to be done. We need to act now.”
Summary reports, intended for policy-makers, make for serious reading.
“Climate change, caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, is causing widespread harm and damage to nature and people, exposing human society and the natural world to intolerable and irreversible risks, including killing people, harming food production , destroying nature and reducing economic development,” it says.
The report concludes that current emissions policies put the world on track to warm by 2.7 degrees. This is well beyond the Paris Agreement target of two degrees, at which point the Earth will be hotter than at any time in history.
That warming must be stopped, the report says.
“Adaptation is also not a substitute for cutting emissions. If warming continues the world will increasingly face changes that cannot be adapted.”
Canada, warming at twice the rate of the world average, is no exception.
The panel found that the cost of climate change in Canada has increased from about $400 million in 1983 to about $1.9 billion. Fighting wildfires alone, a threat from climate change, could reach $1 billion per year – a figure already reached in six of the past 10 years. ,
By 2080, the report predicts that cumulative forestry losses from fire, pests and other climate-change factors could rise to $459 billion.
Atlantic Canada will also suffer, which is experiencing above-average sea level rise. Reports suggest that a Mi’kmaq community is already considering relocating.
Fisheries will also suffer.
Climate change has almost wiped out kelp beds off the Nova Scotia coast, an important habitat for fish. Ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide will harm squid, cod and halibut. If emissions remain high, snow crab landings could drop by up to 16 percent and shellfish and lobster by up to 54 percent.
The report says that Canada’s heart region is at risk of drying up. While farmers may enjoy longer growing seasons and warmer temperatures, by 2050 those benefits are likely to be outweighed by droughts in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Ontario and parts of the Northwest Territories.
To the north, permafrost and melting ice would damage infrastructure and transportation networks, as has already happened with the rail line to Churchill, Maine.
Everywhere, there will be impacts on human health and well-being. Harper said insect-borne diseases like Lyme disease or dengue fever are already on the rise.
“We’ve seen Lyme disease in places where it didn’t exist before.”
Harper said floods caused by wildfires and climate change bring mental-health costs. Those costs can also be indirect – a toll on farmers, for example, by not knowing what to expect from the season or which crops will grow best.
“It’s also being shown to increasingly affect their mental health,” Harper said.
Nor will Canada escape the influence of the rest of the world.
Extreme weather worsened by climate change will disrupt international supply chains, markets, finance and trade, reduce the availability of goods in Canada and increase their price and damage markets for Canadian exports.
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbolt said the report emphasizes how much the panel has learned since beginning its work, as well as the need to move quickly.
“The data and modeling capability we had in those days gave us the impression that we had more time. Now, we need to accelerate the deployment of our preparedness strategy.”
Gilbolt said the current world crisis, from the end of the COVID-19 pandemic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, cannot deter efforts to fight climate change.
“Climate change is not going away because of that crisis or any other crisis that is coming on the road in six months. We cannot lose sight of climate change. We have to persevere.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on February 28, 2022.