“You should make long-term investments,” says the climatologist

With last summer being one of the hottest on record and with hurricanes and floods increasing around the world, climatologist Allen Burke thinks the solution is to adapt to these climate changes and invest for the long term.

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“Scientists are surprised that it should have been a cooler summer because there is a La Niña phenomenon, an abnormally cool current of water that circulates around the equator across the Pacific Ocean, and typically this phenomenon cools temperatures in those regions. , but often also worldwide,” explained climatologist and director general of Ouranos, a consortium for regional climatology and adaptation to climate change, Allen Burke.

“It’s not very encouraging. […]It means climate change is dominating natural processes, which has meant we’ve had cooler summers at times,” he told Philippe-Vincent Foys on QUB radio.

These phenomena are likely to intensify and become more complex, he said, because “we’re going to have interactions between climate regimes that we’ve seen very little of before,” he explained.

The climatologist takes the example of British Columbia in 2021, which has seen droughts, heat waves, wildfires and floods.

“The interaction of several meteorological phenomena over the course of a year is more difficult to track and predict,” explained Mr Burke.

“If we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality at the level of the planet, we can achieve a stabilization of the scale of these climate changes, but some changes are already underway and we must learn to live with them.” said.

According to the climatologist, we need to “make long-term investments” in adapting cities and coastal areas to climate change, for example by investing in infrastructure adapted to rainfall events.

“In Quebec, we’re trying to irrigate fields by dropping shells into the air, which means half the water evaporates into the air rather than going to the crop, whereas in California we already use a drip system. which makes it possible to use every drop of water to successfully grow plants, etc.

Alain Burke believes that Hurricane Fiona, which should develop into a major hurricane and hit eastern Quebec, could cause damage because “we see it coming, the infrastructure is already there, we can’t react quickly”.

“One of the biggest challenges of adaptation is to draw lessons from past events to change territorial and economic development in the long term,” he said.

According to Mr Burke, “things are progressing, 20 years ago we were never talking about carbon neutrality. Now no one will say that we should not achieve carbon neutrality.”

“The other side of the coin is that politicians always seem to be 10 or 15 years behind what the science says and what needs to be done,” he said.

Despite this, the climatologist clarified that Europe was the most avant-garde in terms of public policy, as was Quebec compared to North America.

“The biggest challenge for decision-makers these days is that they have to represent the population, so if the population doesn’t argue that climate change is a top priority or a priority, the decision-makers are stuck.” A situation of swinging and balancing between long-term investments to combat climate change versus short-term emergencies to improve multiple files,” Allen Burke emphasized.

“Perhaps we should spend less time trying to blame one level of government or one group of individuals and instead fight climate change together,” he added.

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