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Thirsty for Answers: Preparing for Climate Change in Canada

Updated on January 27, 2016

Ready or Not, Climate Change is Here to Stay.

It is rather doubtful the present droughts, temperature extremes, floods or severe storms we are experiencing here in Canada are going to simply disappear anytime soon. In fact, climate scientists and trends tell us to expect more extreme weather, higher temperatures, prolonged droughts, bigger storms and water scarcity. At what point do we shed the comfort of plausible denial and start accepting it and taking responsibility for ourselves, our families and our communities?

Let's face it, we saw how poorly the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A) and the National Guard not only mismanaged but failed to properly respond to the chaos that erupted during the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005. Yet, the U.S. has one of the broadest and best equipped military resource in the world. Blunder! The one strategy that did work was the early warning system and evacuation yet many were still left behind to dig in and ride it out.

With climate change, events happen more gradually so it is more difficult to take notice yet climate is changing our landscape dramatically and on target with climate models. The worrisome thing about all this is that the authorities are not really acknowledging it nor providing proper guidance on emergencies or preparedness. In fact, the previous Federal Government enacted the War on Science, fired thousands of scientists, closed science libraries, cut environmental testing, monitoring and budgets and then put a gag on climate scientists' reporting. Again, more plausible denial- out of sight, out of mind.

Disturbingly, Canadians voted out that particular Federal Government of Conservatives yet the new Liberal Government has not rehired those scientists or restored anything yet, so we are still somewhat, in the dark on climate science and monitoring in Canada. Thank-God for the Internet. To acknowledge climate change is knocking on our door would mean spending money and we wouldn't want politicians to do that-would we?

Our governments may be playing the 'plausible denial' card to the public here in Canada but there is activity happening with little publicity. In 2008, Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers endorsed a National Disaster Mitigation Strategy in support of the Emergency Management Act. The first paragraph of the study clearly states that nationally and internationally, the frequency of natural disasters is increasing. The cumulative effect of these disasters produces a significant personal, material and economic strain on individuals, communities and the fiscal capacity of all levels of governments.(No kidding). Well, at least they are still concerned about whether they can collect your taxes or not- what a relief.

Emergencies are managed first at the local level – for example, by first responders such as medical professionals and hospitals, fire departments, the police and municipalities. Local authorities who need assistance request it from provincial or territorial governments. If an emergency escalates beyond their capabilities, the province or territory may seek assistance from the federal government. Public Safety Canada created the National Emergency Response System (NERS) which was approved by Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers in January 2011. The NERS enables coordinated efforts in responding to emergencies.

The Government Operations Centre (GOC) is the principal means by which the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness' leadership role in establishing an integrated approach to emergency response is exercised. Housed at Public Safety Canada, the GOC operates 24/7 to provide watch, warning, analysis, planning, logistics support and coordination across the federal government and with its partners, including provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and international partners. Oops, I think they forgot to include me, and you, and you and you.

The typical convoluted flow chart designed by bureaucrats depicted below outlines the structure and communication process of the GOC and Strategy. Take a look. Nothing complicated about it.


Well that chart was refreshing was it not? With climate change creeping up on us, there are many other possible emergencies besides weather for example: pandemic flu, nuclear weapons, terrorism, war, antibiotic resistance, environmental catastrophe and chronic water and food shortages could also offer dire threats to life as we know it. Will the flow chart be able to save us all? I highly doubt it. But authorities may believe...there are always a few casualties in catastrophe. Are you and your family one of the expendable ones? If you don't think so, perhaps you may wish to join the movement of global 'preppers' and be responsible for you, your children and grand children's long term survival with preparedness.

We are all aware of people abandoning regular lives to create remote cabins, tiny eco-homes, self-sustaining earth ships and going 'off the grid'. Heck, there are even communities of these in North America, it is not just a trend. These are definitely examples of preppers. Perhaps you are not ready for this, are too attached to your home in the city and desire to dig in and ride out climate change in an urban center, at least for the meantime. In recession, many cannot also afford these options. So, be a prepper in any way you possibly can. There may not be reason to panic and build Noah's Ark quite yet but there is certainly many quantifiable scientific reasons to be alert and prepared for emergency.

If not prepare now, then when? When water and food is rationed or scarce, soldiers are on your street and hungry neighbors are robbing you? Then? Preppers call this the SHTF Scenario referring to when the Shit Hits the Fan Scenario. When that moment comes, there will be no warning. Or like some who grunt and pound their chests may suggest, will you grab your gun and knapsack and run for the hills to live rugged in the wild off the land? Good luck to you Rambo.

You may wish to hunker down and make the most of it in your own sustainable urban refuge (or bunker) collecting all the emergency supplies and nine months to two years of preserved food and water reserves. Not a terrible idea overall. But if you are a survival slacker, another option is to create a BOB, a Bug Out Bag and slip out at the first sign of major trouble with your tent or camper to some remote location (by water) far away from police, soldiers and rabid neighbors. Bring your pocket knife. Hope you can skin and disembowel a muskrat.



It may be the end of the world as we know it due to the worst historic droughts of the century in places like California....and the Sudan, Oh and South Africa, North Korea, the Carribean and South America, Ethopia, oh and Thailand and also Venezula, and Asia, the Mediterranean, Poland, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, most of western Europe and of course...the western areas of the U.S and Canada. Nah, no need for preparedness here.

Emergency preparedness in tough times is really a little thought, planning and common sense. We can all see it coming, there will be no excuses when the S does HTF. We do not need the government to flash signs or send us a notice or do it for us. We all have internet and read, I hope, things besides Facebook. The facts are we need to watch our individual and community carbon and water foot prints, conserve more, expend less, focus on renewables, save for a rainy day and most of all...prepare ahead. It may be the end of the world as we know it in many parts of the world, but us Canadians, we may still have a chance. Be wise.



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    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you. I note some excellent research, well written up and delivered with a bit of a cutting edge.

      Votes and a share.

      When Rome was burning, who was fiddling?


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