More floods, blizzards, droughts expected as Sask. warms 3 times faster than the rest of the world: report
SASKATOON -- A new climate change report has found that Saskatchewan is warming three times faster than the rest of the world.
“Even though we complain about our winters, they’re not as cold as they used to be. You just have to ask an old timer. Our lowest temperatures aren’t as low as they used to be,” said lead author Dave Sachyn, the director of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina.
With 13 other authors, Sauchyn wrote the prairie provinces chapter of the national assessment of climate change. The data show that western and northern Canada are warming three times faster than the rest of the world while Canada is warming slightly less at two times faster.
This will mean more severe weather in the years ahead such as floods, extreme blizzards, droughts and forest fires, he said.
Sauchyn acknowledged that for some Saskatchewan residents, climate change doesn’t seem evident because the province’s weather changes so much.
“Climate change is being obscured by all this variability. I’m fairly sympathetic to those who say they can’t see climate change,” he said.
Changes must be examined over many years many years to understand the effect of climate change, he said.
The report is written for governments, municipalities and private companies that are being told they need to consider climate change or suffer the consequences in the years ahead.
Sauchyn said the hope is to inform people and help minimize the impact of climate change and build resilience to extreme weather.
That means leaders are encouraged to plan for climate changes that are going to occur, such as increased flooding. Sauchyn recommends that residents look at having yards that incorporate better drainage. Cities should consider better storm drains or upgraded retention ponds.
Saskatoon is one of the leaders in the province with regards to climate change initiatives such as improving infrastructure so it can withstand severe weather and increasing the ability of emergency response services, he said.
Sauchyn also sees the potential for positive results despite the findings in the report, which he said paint a less than optimistic picture. For example, he suggests consultation with Indigenous communities who have a vast knowledge of the land, he said.
“There’s a lot of good news in our report in terms of how much we know about climate change on the prairies and how we are doing some thing about it and preparing.”
Pablo Rodriguez, the climate change coordinator at the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said the report and climate change need to be taken more seriously in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of harmful emissions per capita in the world due to its reliance on the oil and gas, agriculture and mining industries, which require a lot of energy, he said.
Rodriguez wants to see Saskatchewan reduce emissions to help to slow down global warming and reduce the negative effects in the future.
On the positive side of things, Rodriguez said we have the tools now to help make change possible.