With 2022 in the rearview mirror, time is running out to combat the climate crisis.
In November, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report showing the past eight years are on track to be the warmest eight on record.
The WMO attributes the record-breaking temperatures to the continued rise of greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat from years of above average conditions.
The State of the Global Climate in 2022 report found the climate crisis affected millions and cost billions over the course of the year, with extreme heat waves, widespread drought, and severe flooding displacing people from their homes, communities and even countries.
According to the WMO, the rate to which sea levels are rising has doubled since 1993. It rose by nearly 10 millimeters since January 2020, marking a new record high.
“The past two and a half years alone account for 10 percent of the overall rise in sea level since satellite measurements started nearly 30 years ago,” the report reads.
Among the worst effects of the climate crisis in 2022 were on glaciers in the European Alps, which saw an unprecedented melting rate, while the Greenland ice sheet lost mass for the 26th straight year.
Even more concerning is that the region saw rainfall for the first time in September.
While the report suggests 2022 will likely “only” be the fifth or sixth warmest on record, the long-term trends show the next warmest year on record isn’t far off.
In the report, WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas warns that it’s already too late to stop much of the glacial melting across the globe, resulting in major implications for water security.
“The rate of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years,” Taalas wrote in the report. “Although we still measure this in terms of millimetres per year, it adds up to half to one meter per century and that is a long-term and major threat to many millions of coastal dwellers and low-lying states.”
Taalas noted that regions least responsible for causing the climate crisis are the same regions that will suffer most, pointing to the widespread flooding in Pakistan and deadly drought in the Horn of Africa.
“Increasingly extreme weather makes it more important than ever to ensure that everyone on Earth has access to life-saving early warnings,” Taalas added.
Nova Scotia could warm by nearly five degrees by 2100: report
2022 marked the first time Nova Scotia published climate projections since 2011 and the conclusions are damning.
The report, conducted by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, warned that Nova Scotia could warm by nearly five degrees by 2100 “in a scenario with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.”
While that projection remains more than 75 years away, the ramifications of the climate crisis are already ramping up.
By the 2030s, widespread flooding is expected to be the top concern, before warmer temperatures make wildfires the biggest threat in the 2050s.
As the average temperature soars into the 2080s, essential aspects of life are expected to be jeopardized, from food production and infrastructure to human health and ecosystems.
While the projections look specifically at Nova Scotia, a peninsula of one million people, they offer a glimpse at what regions around the world will have to adapt to in order to both survive and reverse the climate crisis.
The report also looked at who is most impacted by ramifications of the climate crisis and the result is concerning.
“People already facing disadvantages will be at greater risk,” the report reads.
Those communities include African Nova Scotians, Mi’kmaq, immigrants, women, older Nova Scotians, low-income earners, and individuals living with disabilities.
Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy
In November, the federal government announced Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy, a comprehensive plan to address the primary systems at stake in the climate crisis, including health and well-being, infrastructure, nature and biodiversity, economy and workers, and disaster resilience.
“The fight against climate change has reached our doorstep,” Guilbeault said in a November 24 press conference, adding “adaptation is a cost-effective and positive investment in the present and future.”
The strategy will see an additional $1.6 billion committed by the federal government to protect communities across Canada. Funds are set to help adapt public infrastructures like roads and bridges to withstand extreme weather events like flooding.
“Climate change is the single biggest threat to human health,” said Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos in a news release. “Adapting to and mitigating the inevitable effects of a changing climate is crucial to improving public health.”
Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson also laid bare the dizzying costs of impacts related to the effects of climate change.
Wilkinson noted that Canadian taxpayers are projected to $25 billion by 2025, before reaching an annual cost of approximately $100 billion by 2050.
According to the strategy, every dollar spent on adaptation measures saves taxpayers between $13 and $15. New flooding and wildfire guidelines alone could save the country nearly $5 billion per year, or $12 per every $1 invested.