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Rising sea level predictions: addressing the impact in South West Nova Scotia

Contributed
A screenshot of the Climate Central map. Red areas indicate land under water in 2050 if climate change continues at the rate it is now.
Contributed A screenshot of the Climate Central map. Red areas indicate land under water in 2050 if climate change continues at the rate it is now. - Contributed

Some local municipalities developing policies to address issue

YARMOUTH, N.S. —

CARLA ALLEN
Tri-County Vanguard

An interactive world map showing land projected to be below annual flood level in 2050 due to sea level rise and coastal flooding is a sobering reminder of what’s at stake, should nothing be done to address climate change. 
Climate Central, an independent organization of research scientists and journalists reporting facts about the changing climate, recently circulated the coastal risk screening tool through social media. 
The organization states improved elevation data indicates far greater global threats from sea level rise and coastal flooding than previously thought and greater benefits from reducing their causes.
Climate Central director of communications Peter Girard says local municipalities can help address the issue in three ways. 
1) They can work with regional and national government agencies to get the best data available to evaluate the threat from rising seas. CoastalDEM elevation data and Climate Central's screening tool can help identify land at risk but taking steps to manage that risk requires even more accurate data.
2) Start planning now. Some of the vulnerable land identified by Climate Central might be protected from coastal flooding today, either by natural or man-made defenses. Evaluate what's being defended now and what can be defended in the future and start exploring the costs and the effort required to protect coastal communities.
3) Help keep people informed. The findings of this research and the vulnerabilities shown in these maps are not an eviction notice, but they cannot be ignored. Residents should know their governments can take steps to avoid large-scale disruption to lives and livelihoods caused by sea level rise.
On a grander scale, Girard says all of this takes time, even decades. 
“One vital action can buy more time for local municipalities in Canada and around the world to protect their citizens and their economies: reducing carbon emissions. Cutting greenhouse gas pollution can slow the rate of sea level rise, potentially giving national and local governments more time to respond to the threat and avoid the worst outcomes.”
Some municipalities in southwest Nova Scotia were contacted by the Tri-County Vanguard newsroom to see if climate change and its impacts were being discussed. 
Municipality of Barrington chief administrative officer (CAO) Chris Frotten said the threat of sea level rise and coastal flooding is obviously important. 
“It’s just not something that has been discussed in detail," he said as of yet.
Municipality of Argyle CAO Alain Muise says their unit is undertaking a review and redraft of the municipal planning strategy, with one of the key planning points being climate change.
Warden Danny Muise added land-use bylaws (LUB) were being revamped as they are outdated.
“We are aware of climate change and quite certain that it will be reflected in our updated LUB," he said. “A few years ago we did a study of our municipality whereby we identified the most vulnerable areas of our municipality that would be susceptible to flooding as sea levels rise.”
Mayor Pam Mood said the Town of Yarmouth has a municipal climate change adaptation plan incorporated with its municipal planning strategy. 
“It includes projections for sea level rise and corresponding development restrictions. 
“We’ve also identified mitigation infrastructure on North Water Street and recently acquired property necessary to implement if we decide to go forward with that," she said.
A flood plain has been identified for Broad Brook and development is prohibited within that area. 
A storm water management plan is in place and staff continue to work at improving infrastructure towards that to make sure all is ready.
One of the town’s engineers is participating in a two-year Municipalities for Climate Innovation program, gaining knowledge and developing leadership on climate change within the engineering office. 
“It’s the best, of course, when you have the information and knowledge right at your fingertips,” said Mood.
“The town is also in the process of installing three solar projects, adding to the green energy assets the town already has. 
“Basically, we’re showing leadership in reducing our corporate carbon footprint and we just continue to do as much as we can as quickly as we can.”

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To view the Climate Central Map and check out your location: visit this website.

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