|The Tundra is Burning|
This reaffirms what many suspected. Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country. Rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic. What were once considered exceptional weather patterns – the kind researchers reject to avoid skewing their data – are becoming common.
“We’ve had an awful lot of those ‘exceptionals,’” said Robert Tremblay, research director at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“What used to be happening every 50 years is now happening every five, seven years. … There’s obviously a sense of urgency.”
Canada’s infrastructure wasn’t built for this kind of climate. And much of the burden falls on municipal governments, with road, sewer and transit systems that can barely cope with existing weather conditions, let alone future vagaries.
Local public health officials are also paying close attention to vulnerable populations as extreme heat and cold become more frequent. They use climate projections to plan West Nile virus prevention – milder winters and springs can mean more mosquitos carrying the disease.
It’s a big deal for businesses, too, although many don’t know it yet. “Or they don’t want to know: They see it as a kind of capitulation,” said Blair Feltmate, who runs Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Project.
“Traditionally, in the whole area of climate change, almost 99 per cent of the discussion has focused on mitigating,” Mr. Feltmate said. But “climate change is a done deal. There’s nothing we can do to turn it off. … How do we adapt to that new reality?”
And here's a special shout out to the governments of Alberta and Ottawa, Big Oil, all the Athabasca operators about those massive tailing ponds, you know the toxic lakes visible to the naked eye from space. Those tailing ponds that, if breached, could inflict permanent ruin on the MacKenzie River watershed, the third largest watershed in the world.
Take tailings impoundment areas – the ponds used to store mine waste. Mr. Feltmate said many of the ponds in northern areas were designed “with the idea that permafrost will be in the ground permanently.” In many regions, that isn’t the case.
There's nothing remotely radical in the EnviroCan warning. If anything it's merely consistent with the U.S. government's draft National Climate Assessment, the World Economic Forum's warning, or the latest climate advisory report published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Jesus Christ on a crutch, the tundra is burning and our political classes of all stripes are sitting around with their thumbs up their asses lauding Canada's bitumen bounty and debating course changes for supertankers plying the Pacific.
Now our petro-pols - Conservative, Liberal, New Democrat alike - have it in writing. Those toxic Athabasca tailing ponds may no longer be safe (they never were) and may be a loaded gun pointing at the head of the MacKenzie River basin. And what are they going to do about it? Nothin, not a goddamned thing.