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LETTER: Record temperatures another warning of climate change

Editor: From June 27 to July 1, we experienced an unprecedented heat wave that put many Albertans at risk. It also led to infrastructure damage, agricultural fires, and the need to limit power and water use. In Canmore and Banff, we beat previous heat

Editor:

From June 27 to July 1, we experienced an unprecedented heat wave that put many Albertans at risk. It also led to infrastructure damage, agricultural fires, and the need to limit power and water use. In Canmore and Banff, we beat previous heat records by nearly 6 °Celsius. Such extreme heat is not normal or sustainable, and threatens to disrupt the role the mountains play as water towers for most of Alberta with the potential for more frequent flood and drought conditions throughout the province.

There is scientific consensus the extremity of this heat wave was the result of human-caused climate change. We only have until 2030 – less than nine years – to drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to keep the global temperature increase below catastrophic levels of no more than 1.5 °C. Even under a 1.5 °C scenario, we will continue to break temperature records and water-supplying glaciers in these mountains might be forever lost.

Climate change is terrifying, and inaction can often be easier than facing massive hurdles in a short time window. This is especially true in an oil-rich province like Alberta. We need to collectively demand our politicians rise to the challenge of protecting the health and economic prosperity of Albertans. This means committing to the bare minimum targets the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects as necessary to limit warming below 1.5 °C, including a 45 per cent reduction in GHG emissions from 2010 levels by 2030, and net zero GHG emissions by 2050.

While these targets may seem large or intangible, they can be achieved. Rapid action is needed, with things like incentives for renewable energy projects, electric vehicle purchases, and energy efficient building retrofits. Most importantly, we need to cease the expansion of new and existing fossil fuel infrastructure. While fossil fuels have given Albertans economic prosperity, continuing to rely on them puts us behind a global market that is quickly moving towards renewables.

I hope people see this heat wave is a wake-up call. Our politicians can choose to use this evidence of climate change as a catalyst for immediate reform of energy policies. By doing so, they will play a critical role in guaranteeing a safer and more economically stable future for all Albertans.

Waverley Sunday Birch,

Canmore