Climate change

We can’t ‘stay in denial,’ climate researcher says

“People don’t believe it’s happening,” researcher Bob Sanford told Dal audience.

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Floods in our area are getting worse, and we just can’t decide to let it be the elephant in the room anymore, a climate researcher told an audience at Dalhousie University on Thursday night.

“Climate change is the new sex – people just don’t want to talk about it,” said Bob Sanford, the EPCOR Chair for Water and Climate Security at the Japan-based United Nations University Institute for Health, Environment and Water.

The sustainability department at Dalhousie University held the event, called Water and Climate Security, where Sanford completed a long presentation. At least 100 students showed up to the event.

Sanford is involved in the Interaction Council, an independent international organization aiming to solve political, economic and social problems, where he is the senior adviser on water issues. Sanford is also on the advisory board on Living Lakes Canada and works with the Forum for Leadership on Water.

With global changes and extreme hydrology — “the flooding is getting worse,” he said.

Sanford mentioned the flooding that took place in Calgary in 2013 and the flood that occurred in Toronto in 2013 to illustrate how Canadians just were not ready and were not taking it seriously.

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“People don’t believe it’s happening and they never will,” said Sanford. “People don’t trust the people sounding the alarm; they don’t trust the environmentalist.”

Sanford stated that people are choosing to ignore climate change so they can keep their jobs and their lifestyles with no changes.

Now, people can’t hide from climate change — they have to face it.

“There is clear evidence of climate change everywhere: it is on TV, the radio and people are talking about it,” he said.

“There is no way a person now can ‘just not know’ about climate change,” said Sanford. “And if they do, at what point does it become harmful and/or intentional?”

We need to start dealing and adapting to the changes that are occurring. If we don’t, things will become worse for everyone, he added. With flooding comes damages to the community. These damages can include environmental damages that can be irreversible. Human health is at stake, our lives life are at risk, floods will destroy the economy like it has in the past.

“I don’t think people can stay in denial,” said Sanford. “People are experiencing these things with their own eyes and economically.”

Students were engaged in the presentation and asked questions about what we should do now to accept the changes that are occurring.

Sanford stressed that we need to start taking action and stop running away from climate changes and accept them. If we don’t do this, we will not be ready when we start noticing changes, like major floods, in Nova Scotia.

“As temperature keeps rising, surprising things that we have never seen before will happen. We have to start thinking about the unthinkable,” said Sanford.