Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What Are You Doing in 2080?

Relax, I'm pretty sure you're not going to be doing anything in 2080 other than relying on some relative to pull the weeds at your grave.

But in Britain, they are talking about what they'll be doing in 2080 or at least what the next generations of Britons will be doing. That's because the British government has released its annual report warning its citizens of what they can expect by 2080 and urging them to begin planning and preparing for it.

For example, the Brits are warning their public that the country will be at least two degrees warmer by 2080 with parts in the south, including London, upwards of six degrees warmer. That, by the way, is a lot of "warmer."

The British government knows what your government knows. They know that climate change on a serious scale is inevitable and they know that defining and implementing effective measures for adaptation and remediation is a multi-generational challenge.

Telling people what's coming in 2080 allows them to work out, with some accuracy, what changes they can expect along the way. That's because today's generation of Britons needs to know what they'll be dealing with in 2040 and 2060.

So, here's the question. What has your government told you to expect by 2080 where you live in Grand Prairie, Alberta or Dauphin, Manitoba or Port Hope, Ontario or Miramichi, New Brunswick? I know what they've told you because I know what they've told me - nothing.

So here's the next question. Why hasn't your government taken the obvious step of telling you what your area should expect and begin planning for in 2080 and 2040 and 2060? Why indeed? Why haven't the opposition parties been demanding, furiously insisting the government do just that? Why have they stood mute on this while feeding you a crockpot full of garbage about bitumen and national unity?

Maybe they don't want to discuss this with you because they have a pretty good idea of how you might react. Maybe they see this as an unwelcome problem they would just prefer to move down the road, to leave for somebody else to clean up.

Why do we see the Europeans as so strident on slashing global carbon emissions right now? What's with that anyway? It's really quite simple. The Euros don't have to look to the horizon for signs of the approach of global warming. It's already arrived. It's real, tangible. The closer you get to the Mediterranean the more tangible it becomes.

Take Greece, for example. It's forest fire season has expanded by six weeks. The country is beset by the double whammy of heatwaves and drought. Northern Europe is getting wetter, southern Europe is drying out. Several months ago the Greek minister of tourism lamented that his country was becoming unsuitable for visitors during the summer months. Greek agriculture has taken a hard hit. The country has explored options including later planting and alternate crops. Unfortunately the alternates need 40% more water which is problematical when you're confronted with a sustained drought.

Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece are all losing arable farmland to desertification. You don't have to convince these people about global warming, they live it.

So here's a final question. If London, capital of an island nation whose climate is moderated by surrounding seas, is facing a 6 degree temperature increase by 2080, what do you think lies in store for you folks from Toronto and Winnipeg and Calgary by 2080? Do you even want to know?

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