Opinion: Flooding brings home need for climate action

We must act to reduce GHG emissions and transition away from fossil fuels, as well as take measures to adapt to changes already taking place.

Pierrefonds Blvd. at the corner of Saint-Jean Boulevard in Pierrefonds is flooded on Monday April 22, 2019. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette

As a budding climate scientist, I’d always been worried about a day where climate change would impact my own community.

I just didn’t expect it to be so soon.

In 2017, I was pursuing a Master’s degree in climate science in the United States when I came across a Facebook video: a drone flying over Pierrefonds. I immediately recognized the intersection — it was where our local grocery store was located, the intersection we would pass when my mother would drive me to my pediatrician. And it was completely flooded. I felt a shiver run through my body.

As a scientist, I often think about future scenarios of a climate-impacted world, memorizing statistics about floods, droughts, hurricanes. Make no mistake: many regions are already being directly impacted by climate change today, especially flooding. These are injustices that Canadians, who are among the highest emitters of climate change-causing greenhouse gases, will have to grapple with. Indeed, wealthy, well-resourced cities like Montreal and Miami will fare much better than Kolkata or Dhaka.

Of course, it is challenging to attribute a single event — like a flood in Montreal — to climate change, because climate change is about trends of such events over time. But, scientists know with certainty that the frequency and severity of such events will increase due to climate change, which could explain why these floods have happened twice in three years.

Our response to climate change must be twofold: we must act to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions and transition away from fossil fuels, as well as take measures to adapt to changes already taking place.


Our federal and provincial leaders can do so much more to reduce our emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. For one, the federal government can stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and avoid buying new pipelines for billions of dollars, as it did with the Trans Mountain expansion. Both federal and provincial governments can increase their greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets, which are currently woefully below what the world’s leading scientists have told us is necessary to avert the most severe impacts of climate change. These examples of climate leadership came to mind when news of the flooding reached me last week.

Two years after the Pierrefonds flooding, my local Mourelatos still hasn’t reopened, and now Mayor Valérie Plante has declared a state of emergency.

On a municipal level, it is possible to implement measures to reduce the impacts of flooding, also known as climate adaptation. One example is the protection of wet meadows, which serve to absorb river runoff and buffer against flooding. Along with other groups like Sauvons L’Anse-à-l’Orme, the Green Coalition Verte, an organization promoting the conservation of natural spaces, has repeatedly asked the City of Montreal to protect the L’Anse-à-l’Orme wet meadows in Pierrefonds — but we are still awaiting an announcement to preserve this important natural resource. As a matter of fact, there are plans for new construction on L’Anse-à-l’Orme, an ill-advised plan: decreasing its size will decrease its flood-protecting ability, and building new homes on flood-prone areas isn’t wise. Now seems as important a time as ever to protect this urban ecosystem.

Climate change is here, it’s serious, and we are responsible for it. But, we still have an ever-narrowing window of opportunity to take action and avert some of its most severe consequences. We can demand our local, provincial and federal leaders heed scientific advice. We can demand our leaders dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We can advocate for climate adaptation. We can create a better world for my generation and future ones. Can we rise to the challenge?

Leehi Yona of Dollard-des-Ormeaux is a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar and PhD student researching climate change at Stanford University. She serves on the board of directors of Montreal’s Green Coalition.

Источник: Montrealgazette.com

Источник: Corruptioner.life


You may also like...