The importance of forest fires has already increased and will continue to do so under the influence of climate change, in the coming decades, due to longer fire seasons, warmer temperatures and increased lightning frequency, warn report. The costs of fighting these fires should thus double to reach $1 billion annually in Canada alone, according to a 2016 study, an amount to be paid that will become recurring.
Sea level rise
Canada’s Atlantic coast is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, where the frequency and amplitude of “extreme water levels” are set to increase, the report explains. The Mi’kmaq community of Lennox Island, Prince Edward Island, is preparing to move because of the threat. The increase in precipitation, which could reach 20% if greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue, will also contribute to the increase and worsening of floods, particularly in the north of the country.
Roads, airstrips, buildings, pipelines and other infrastructure in the north of the country will suffer damage due to thawing permafrost. “Ice roads have become less safe due to warming temperatures,” the report said. Permafrost thaw has also already caused service disruptions to schools, airports, and water and sewer systems in Yukon and Nunavut communities.
Decline in food production
Snow crab catches could fall by 16% and lobster catches by 42-54%, according to studies cited in the report, which warns that ocean acidification caused by global warming will harm other fish resources , such as Pacific cod and Atlantic halibut. On the ground, some crops could also suffer due to the increase in droughts and heavy rains, as well as the multiplication of diseases and predators.
Vulnerable First Nations
Climate change will particularly affect First Nations, in Canada and around the world, particularly in terms of nutrition. The decline in species traditionally harvested by coastal Indigenous communities in western Canada will lead to a decrease in their nutritional intake, and more markedly for men and elders, finds a study cited in the report. Replacing them with non-traditional foods like canned tuna or chicken would not compensate for this loss.
Repercussions of impacts elsewhere in the world
Canada will be adversely affected by the effects of climate change elsewhere in the world, the report warns. Damage to infrastructure or food production could disrupt supply chains and destabilize the economy, as the 2011 floods in Thailand did by affecting semiconductor production, which boosted the prices of certain goods that contain it. Possible shortages could particularly affect the poorest people and cause social tensions.