Climate Change and Nature

Climate change is a reality and the world around us is going to change. We have reached the tipping point, and even if we were to make drastic changes worldwide in our daily lives, there will be change.

In this section

Biodiversity and Climate Change
Climate change will have significant impacts on the natural world, food webs and nutrient cycles. As temperatures increase and precipitation patterns change, there will be many changes in the ecosystems which provide habitat for the flora and fauna of New Brunswick.
Rivers, Wetlands, and Climate Change
The rivers and wetlands of New Brunswick are important in many ways. They provide habitat for many species. They provide us with clean and safe drinking water. They are a source of recreation for many, and a source of inspiration for others. They are also prone to significant impacts as a result of climate change.
Forests and Climate Change
Forests have long played a role in the economy and life of New Brunswick. As a result of climate change, however, we may see some big changes here.
Communities and Climate Change
Most NB communities are built on the coasts or rivers. With sea level rise and precipitation changes, our communities will need to prepare for future problems.

What is climate change?

Climate change is the result of a build-up of greenhouse gases (GHG's) in the earth's atmosphere.  These gases act much in the same way as does the glass roof of greenhouse; they allow the sun's rays to pass through and provide heat, and they stop heat from escaping. As the GHG's increase in quantity, they provide more "insulation" to the earth and trap more heat.  The increased heat will have a significant impact on everything on earth, including the weather.

What effect will climate change have?

The models tell us that the average temperatures will rise, there will be significant fluctuations in precipitation amounts and in the severity of storms, and the seas are going to rise.  These facts tell us the future world will be a more uncomfortable place.  However, the impact on the natural environment around us will be even greater.
Specific impacts for New Brunswick include:

  • By 2050, temperatures will rise on average 2-4 degrees in summer, 1-6 degrees in winter.
  • Seasonal and yearly variation in precipitation will increase.  Summers inland will be exposed to longer periods of drought.
  • Seasonal weather events may become more dramatic, including storms, early or late frost, and heavier floods/Sea levels on the coast will rise by 50-70 cm over the next century.
  • Decreased rain inland could result in diminished river flows, leading to increased temperatures in rivers, streams and lakes, lower water levels, and increased salinity in river estuaries.
  • Changes in forest composition, as species react differently to the changing climate.

What can we do about climate change?
Generally, any actions which we can take in regards to climate change fall into one of two categories; they are either mitigative or adaptive measures.

Mitigation means actions taken to try to slow down or reverse climate change.  These actions have been well publicized over the past few years, and they mostly seek to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we are putting into the atmosphere.  These measures include actions like energy conservation, and the use of alternative forms of energy creation (like wind farms and solar panels).

Adaptation refers to actions that will allow us and the natural world around us to more successfully weather the effects of climate change.  Adaptive measures are necessary because, no matter how quickly we act on reducing our GHG emissions, we will still experience change in the years to come.

What needs to happen in New Brunswick to prepare for Climate Change

  • Strategies and plans to conserve coastal areas, forests, watersheds, biodiversity and species at risk, to allow our ecological safety net to respond well to climate change impacts, will need to be implemented across government departments and involve the public in taking action.
  • Community and transportation route planning and development ill need to incorporate the predicted trends of sea level rise, increased risk of floods and soil erosion into plans and decisions about where development is permitted to happen.
  • We are all in this together.  Strengthening public engagement and increasing capacity for non-government organizations and the public to assist in monitoring the effects of climate change and promoting solutions should be a priority for New Brunswick.

Resources

In 2007, the government of the province of New Brunswick released the document, "Climate Change Action Plan - 2007-2012".  This document details the actions the government plans on implementing to combat and adapt to climate change.

For a detailed description of the effects that climate change will have on New Brunswick, we recommend reading "From Impacts to adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007", a document published by Natural Resources Canada.

To see the global picture, check out the website for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.