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Opinion: Complex issues never seem to emerge from simple media analysis.
As the Canadian media curbs and fixates climate narratives to carbon pricing and tax-talk, our focus is shifted from openly discussing the costly results of climate change and the measures all levels of government will be required to make. Discussing ideological threats is an excellent means to divert attention from the price tags we will be forced to pay. Denying an informed discussion serves some, but fails everyone.
I recently moved to Harvey Bank, New Brunswick, from The Junction, Toronto, Ontario. Given that I am now 100m closer to sea level, my brain seems more sensitive to oceanic attenuations. In Toronto, I existed 120m above sea level, now I am about 15m, well, maybe 20m, I'm upstairs.
Harvey Bank is located around Hopewell Rocks, on the Bay of Fundy. These tiny towns around the top of Fundy experience world-record high tides. Thankfully, Harvey Bank is high and dry, due to its geology and location. Twice a day waters enter and leave coastal tidal zones, the force of this nature is incredible to witness. Even though Harvey Bank may experience these larger tides, St. John, New Brunswick is at greater risk from lower tide fluctuations; location, location, location.
St. John is experiencing unprecedented flooding, the combination of increased Spring run-off on the St. John River and the natural sea-level fluctuations of the Bay of Fundy create an emergent complexity on resultant water levels; climate increases the rate of Spring run-off and climate is increasing sea levels, nonlinearly, in the Bay of Fundy. When these two parameters are combined, there is the potential to deliver extreme peak water levels.
The Spring flooding cycle of rivers is well understood by scientists, New Brunswick had predicted higher than average risk for flooding on the Saint John River. Communities along the river have suffered this singular risk. The tidal cycle of sea level is also predictable. If you have been to the Reversing Falls, New Brunswick, you can watch this natural phenomenon twice daily. When the tidal bore enters flooding river zones, the resultant damage increases.
Saint John is a critical trade port in New Brunswick. How will increased flooding events impact the local economy and residents? How will infrastructure and industry be impacted as sea level rise increases and climate increases potential Spring run-off and precipitation? It seems that our current media analysis is falling short on informing us on climate impacts. Given that 80% of global trade cities are impacted by sea level rise, it seems our discussion is stalled on the same basic, short-sighted analysis and avoiding the critical conversations.
Recent math studies are beginning to expose the nature of sea level rise and the impacts of winds, storms and tides on local water level increases. Getting defined answers and projections is a challenge given that each location will possess a unique set of parameters that will define local sea level rise risk. The sea level impacts on Bay of Fundy will require smarter modelling to identify top risks to develop a strategic response.
Sea level rise is not linear, the values of sea level rise fluctuate depending on location and latitude. Saint John faces a unique set of challenges, as do many places within the Bay of Fundy. As I travel my new area, I see many places that will feel the impacts of sea level rise. Given the cost of building new infrastructure and the added sea level challenges, what is the cost of inaction on climate?
Hopewell Rocks will experience higher tides as sea level increases, but these increases will be nonlinear given the geometry and nature of the Bay of Fundy. When we look at areas like Sackville, New Brunswick, we see the Trans-Canada highway and rail corridor. These transportation infrastructures support ~$50,000,000 per day in trade. If ignored, many areas like Sackville, on the Canadian coastline will be at catastrophic risk.
Will Canadian media begin to explore these bigger climate threats to our economy? Given that Canada is one of the smartest countries, when will our media begin to inform intelligent voters of the bigger threats to Canadian and local economies? What are the impacts in Vancouver, Halifax, St. John's, Montreal, Quebec City, Charlottetown?
Given that Calgary is 1024m above sea level, are Calgarians wondering how losing ~80% of trade cities to the oceans will impact their business model? How much is the carbon tax, again?