Canada was a more sparsely populated place 200 years ago, before the large-scale mechanization that came to be known as the industrial revolution. Canada was also a cooler place, according to environmental clues that reveal the climate of that time. In a matter of decades, however, the world’s average temperature could rise to more than 2°C above what it was before industrialization. What will happen then to Canada and the people who live here?
You might think of the result in strictly negative terms. However, there could also be positive aspects. The diagram below reflects a range of possible impacts, risks and opportunities. Our prosperity will depend on how we anticipate and plan for the risks associated with climate change.
This Degrees of Change diagram is the work of an independent federal policy advisory agency called the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). Through its new policy research program called Climate Prosperity, the group aims to ensure that Canada is well prepared to adapt and prosper as part of the reality of climate change.
This diagram summarizes the impacts of climate change on Canada in eight distinct categories, including such subjects as water resources and communities and infrastructure. What emerges is a unique picture of what could happen as average annual global temperatures increase up to 5°C higher than they were prior to industrial times.
This diagram is not a comprehensive overview of all impacts; rather it summarizes some of the known impacts. Nor is it a firm prediction but an illustration of what researchers think is possible — and likely.