The provincewide damage caused by last weekend’s storm should spur Nova Scotians to prepare for more of the same, says the Ecology Action Centre.
The Halifax environmental group says storm surges are nothing new in a province with a 7,000-kilometre coastline, but climate change means storms that once hit every century now strike every 20 years.
“We know sea levels are rising and we know that means our shore lines are going to be more vulnerable to flooding, because (with) more water, higher levels reach further inland,” said Jennifer Graham, coastal co-ordinator for ECA. “The kind of things that happened in Cow Bay, Eastern Passage, the Chezzetcooks, Isle Madame, Cape Breton — those are just a small sampling of the areas affected by this storm surge.”
Bandage solutions like building seawalls aren’t the whole answer, she argued: “We couldn’t possibly afford to put seawalls against every square kilometre of our coast.”
Instead, Nova Scotians and all levels of government should adjust to the “living systems” of shores, rather than adjusting the shores to suit our needs. That might mean relocating communities further inland or buying coastal properties to restore wetlands, which act as natural “sponges” absorbing the excess water.