By Isolde Murdoch, student of the University of Victoria
Compared to the majority of the world, those living in Canada enjoy a nation high in resources and a climate favourable to agricultural production. Due to the rapid increase of climate changes and environmental depletion, this will become even more apparent over the next couple of decades. Although, we will find ourselves in a much more comfortable and stable position, than much of the world – which has begun to, and will increasingly experience extreme weather, followed by high levels of famine, conflict and migration – this does not in any way mean that Canada will not feel the direct and indirect effects of environmental changes.
There are Canadian populations who will be forced to flee their homes in search of protection from climate changes and environmental disasters. In particular, low coastal regions, such as those living on Canada’s Arctic and Pacific coastal areas, will continue to see rapidly rising sea levels, which will result in more severe flooding, and ultimately, these areas could become uninhabitable as they are consumed by the sea. If the land in highly populated areas is washed away, such as in some areas of Greater Vancouver, this will result in massive numbers of environmentally displaced persons. Also, severe environmental events, such as the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 or the storm in 2013 that forced 100,000 Albertans to flee their homes due to flooding, will become more prevalent and harsh, resulting in greater incidences of temporary displacement. Even though Canadians will be displaced, temporarily or permanently, it is likely that these people will be able to relocate within Canada. This is not going to be the case for the rest of the world, most of whom will have no choice but to flee their countries out of a desperation to survive.
With this said, it is highly likely that Canada will increasingly be seen as a desired country of relocation, and soon, one of the only liveable countries with an adequate level of resources; particularly that of water. Furthermore, history has shown that when a nation, particularly a developed nation, has depleted their own resources, they turn around and deplete the resources of another. As nations are faced with the inability to provide the necessities of life to their citizens, it is to be expected that extreme measures would be taken to acquire such resources. Rather than hypothesize on the horrifying measures that could taken against Canada, I question: what measures can be taken to combat climate change from occurring so rapidly, as well as to help nations adapt to the realities of severe environmental events and to assist populations to stay in their home countries, or receive support to relocate when necessary? Without policies and plans in place to deal with the catastrophic effects of environmental changes, Canada will inevitably face a precarious future.
Although Canadians may not experience imminent displacement from climate change, it seems very probable that without prompt and sufficient action, that Canadians could find themselves displaced due to the effects of conflict or war between Canada and countries starving for resources.
What is your displacement date?