We know climate change exists; we hear about it all the time, and debates rage about how fast it’s changing, how much it’s going to change, and what the consequences of those changes will be. Predicting how the climate will change is done with degrees of accuracy; we know, for example, that icecaps are going to melt, but we don’t necessarily know how much or how quickly with certainty. This makes climate change a slippery problem to deal with; we know there will be consequences, but it’s uncertain what those consequences will be. Some may be good, some may be bad, but all are somewhat unpredictable.
There are a plethora of resources that allow us to better understand what transformations climate change might bring to Winnipeg’s economy. A report made for the Government of Manitoba analyzes what impacts climate change might have on agriculture; another online tool allows you to map out potential changes to average temperatures and precipitation throughout Canada. These sources show that Winnipeggers can expect shorter, warmer winters, hotter summers, more precipitation and less year round snow cover.
There are potential benefits to all of this. Less snow cover year round and less below 0 temperatures each year means a longer growing season, which could be a tremendous boon to our already agricultural province. This longer season might also give us the opportunity to plant new crops that thrive with more heat and precipitation. The reduced cold means you’ll need to fire up your furnace less, and fewer cold days might mean more pedestrian activity, a boon for retailers.
All of the advantages are lovely, and you’d be remiss to find a Winnipegger who wants a longer winter season. Drastic changes to climate can create a whole host of problems, however. Longer growing seasons also mean more pests and weeds, some of which might develop before our ecosystem is prepared to handle them. Heat waves will become more common, creating health hazards for the elderly, homeless, and disadvantaged. This can also cause stress for livestock; droughts and floods may also be more common.
The City of Winnipeg runs on a yearly budget; they have to balance the budget because they can’t have year-end deficits. The problem with this system lies in its inflexibility; the City can’t incur deficits now in order to establish climate change proofing infrastructure for when problems hit. Climate change’s unpredictability may also mean a sudden uptick in the use of emergency services. This is where the real problem lies; if we could determine exactly how climate change will affect us, we could prepare more adequately for those eventualities.
As it stands, the best way to increase the predictability of climate change is to slow it, so we can gather more data and have more time to make adjustments. One way you can help reduce climate change is by getting solar panel installers to install a solar array on your home; the energy you produce will supplement the grid, which means Manitoba Hydro can sell clean, hydroelectric energy to places that would otherwise use coal.