“In the weather deck of cards, there is a joker around every bend. Our weather is dangerous and volatile. We have to come to this less romantic conclusion that we are going to have a different climate and now is the time to prepare for this,” explains Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.Phillips will host a lunch at the upcoming Atlantic Climate Change Conference, taking place at the Westin March 3-6. The conference will feature lectures on topics such as energy choices, carbon markets, greenhouse gas management, corporate and public policy and land use planning. (See esans.ca for conference info.)
As Phillips demonstrates, it is now accepted that “climate change” is not just some zany myth made up by modern-day hippies and fervent environmentalists, but that it’s really happening and our planet is sporting the bruises to prove it.
Halifax is certainly not immune, so the conference will take an in-depth look at some of the startling figures and issues at hand. Sponsored by the Environmental Services Association of Nova Scotia (ESANS) and Dalhousie University, the conference will be a Mecca of information for the public. Screenings, lectures and discussions will reveal the damaged, but not yet broken, state of the earth.
But should we simply acquiesce to this looming catastrophe and hope for the best, or do we still have a fighting chance?
“We have seen the future and there is no way to reverse what will happen but we can learn how to cut back and buy ourselves some time,” says Phillips. “In terms of weather, there is no ‘normal’ anymore. It’s all a crapshoot and there is no way to figure out what the next season will bring.”
ESANS executive director Rick Joseph says the conference, called Risks, Responses and Tools for Action, is all about finding methods to help HRM move forward and create less of an environmental footprint.
“Our focus is on adaptation,” he says. “There will be a wealth of information to choose from at this event. However, all of the topics have a common theme which is not merely zeroing in on science, rather, we hope to offer practical environmental solutions that people can put to use.”
One such solution may come in the form of Climate Smart, a tool HRM has designed to help businesses in terms of green urban planning. Another practice that will be discussed are environmental impact assessments. These inspections provide a guide for businesses to examine their true ecological impact.
According to Joseph, Haligonians need to look no further than their own backyards to realize that our climate has become inarguably temperamental.
“In Atlantic Canada our beaches are eroding. Hurricane Juan and White Juan were both unusual occurrences for us that flattened the city. We have more cause to be concerned because we live beside the ocean and our sea levels are rising. Our lifestyles are at risk.
“Not to mention,” he adds, “the effects disruptive weather has on our forestry and fishing industry.”
Environmentalist and public speaker Carl Duivenvoorden works for Efficiency New Brunswick and will be presenting Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth. He will also add a detailed discussion on solutions, which is something he felt the film didn’t spend quite enough time on. In April 2007, Duivenvoorden visited Nashville for a three-day intensive workshop facilitated by Gore.
“I have two young boys and, frankly, I think climate change is the most important issue they will have to confront in their lives,” he says.
As for the non-believers out there, Duivenvoorden is candid and frustrated.
“It’s time to get over passive denial,” he says. “There are answers but only a limited amount of time. Instead of sitting on our butts, we have to do something. In my presentation I have added a big focus on tips and advice. Hopefully, it will bridge the gap between awareness and action.”
Perhaps the most sage words come from Carl Duivenvoorden’s mother, Jane.
“Maybe you can’t change the whole world,” she says, “but you can change your corner of it.”