Adapting to Climate Change
Rising sea levels. Heat waves. Shifting wind and rainfall patterns. Shrinking glaciers and Arctic sea ice.
Climate change is real. Its impacts are now being felt around the world. From coast to coast, Canada too is being affected. Adapting to these changes has become more important than ever.
About Climate Change Adaptation
Adaptation is not a new concept or practice. People and ecosystems have always adjusted to changing climates.
However, the increasing pace and magnitude of climate change now being felt worldwide has made adaption more difficult. The risks posed by the harmful effects of climate change have also increased.
Over the last two decades, there has been a rise in insured and un-insured losses due to climate-related disasters in Canada and abroad, indicating a reduced ability to adapt to the current rate and extent of our changing climate.
Adaptation activities are intended to strengthen our ability to adapt and to reduce our vulnerability to climate change.
These activities complement an approach known as mitigation, which involves taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
However, reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not stop current changes in the climate system -- the human-made greenhouse gases that are already in our atmosphere will continue to change the global climate for years to come. That is why adaptation actions are needed right now.
What is the Government of Canada doing to help Canadians adapt to the changing climate?
In December 2007, the Government of Canada invested $85.9 million over four years to help Canadians increase their capacity to adapt to a changing climate.
Environment Canada will use its expertise to improve predictions of environmental changes, weather patterns and future climate extremes. More accurate projections of coming climate change will help Canadians prepare more effectively.
The information provided through climate change scenarios will be used to improve designs for bridges, homes and telecommunications structures so that such infrastructure can withstand extreme rainfall, ice and snow levels, and sea level changes. The information will also support emergency preparedness planning across Canada.
More than 5 trillion dollars’ worth of aging infrastructure could be at risk from a changing climate. Over the coming decade, billions of dollars could be invested in new infrastructure projects, and these structures will need to be designed and built to withstand changing climate conditions.
Environment Canada and other federal government departments will implement adaptation initiatives to address some of the most pressing impacts of climate change:
- Climate and infectious disease alert and response systems will be developed.
Significant new health threats are expected from the spread of new infectious and waterborne diseases.
- There will be a specific focus on adaptation strategies for the North. For example, projects will work with local communities to generate a better understanding of the health impacts of climate change on northern residents. The findings will be used to develop culturally sensitive educational and awareness materials that will improve decision making regarding health adaptation in the North.
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment demonstrates particular vulnerability of northern communities and their infrastructures.
- Collaboration among governments, economic sectors and local communities will be improved.
Over 1600 communities in Canada are dependent on natural resource industries that are sensitive to climate change.
- New tools will be developed to help officials plan the best way to implement various adaptation strategies.
Increasing pressures on water availability and quality will affect Canada in diverse ways across the country. There will be reduced supply and increased demand, along with international and domestic competition for supplies.
At the international level, the Government of Canada is dedicating $100 million to global climate change adaptation to assist those countries that are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
How Canadians can Get Involved
Be aware of Environment Canada weather warnings. Photo: Environment Canada, 2008. - Click to enlarge
Even the smallest green efforts can contribute to climate change adaptation. Here are some examples of how you can help:
- If you live in a drought-prone region, you can benefit from simple water conservation methods, such as collecting rainwater to water the lawn or wash the car. Disconnect downspouts and collect the rainwater that flows off the roof into a rain barrel.
- To adapt to sudden rainfalls -- which are expected to become more frequent due to climate change -- you can take steps like collecting water in rain barrels to manage storm water runoff around the house. These actions will reduce the risk of flooded basements and an overloaded sewer system.
- To adapt to extreme weather such as heat waves, you can improve energy efficiency year round to relieve the burden on electrical systems during extreme events and ensure better emergency preparedness.
- Understand the risks posed by severe climatic conditions in your area and prepare for emergencies. Being prepared is as simple as having a stocked emergency kit on hand and being aware of Environment Canada weather warnings.
Reduce your impact on the planet. Check out the following links for hints and ideas on becoming more environmentally friendly.
What You Can Do: Small Changes Make Big Differences
You can make a difference for the environment! Whether you are an individual or already part of a community environmental group, this site is for you. Connect with environmental organizations across the country, find tools, resources, links and information that you can use in your day-to-day life, and in helping with your community environmental group efforts.
Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse
Environment Canada's online database and comprehensive resource providing Canadians with the information they need to put pollution prevention (P2) into practice. Search the database to access over 1500 different P2 resources organized by sector, activity, substance, audience and P2 type.
Aptitudes is an online training program mainly geared to people working in non-governmental organizations involved in environmental endeavours. The program enables these people to interact with governments and to increase their involvement in the development of government policies, programs and services in environmental matters.
CanadianEnvironmental.com is a free comprehensive resource for environmental professionals and others involved in the management of environmental issues related to industry. The site is a gateway to hundreds of major online sources of environmental information and provides easy access to environmental news, information and legislation, products and services, job listings, calendar of events, discussion forum, a free monthly newsletter and more.
Is about helping us reduce our impact on the environment and bring more harmony and quality to our lives. Simple, inexpensive ideas and practical solutions address a wide range of lifestyle choices we all face each day.
Environmental Choice ProgramM
Canada's ecolabelling program helps Canadians identify products that are safer for the environment. Once a product or service has been certified, it can carry the EcoLogoM ? three stylized doves in the shape of a maple leaf.
Tools of Change
Offers specific tools, case studies and a planning guide to help you take action and adopt habits that promote health and more environmentally-friendly choices.
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