Nothing can stop N.B. from getting hotter over next three decades: report

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Fredericton, which would normally record eight summer days above 30 C, will see 42 by 2050.  (Edmund O'Connor/Shutterstock - image credit)
Fredericton, which would normally record eight summer days above 30 C, will see 42 by 2050. (Edmund O'Connor/Shutterstock - image credit)

New Brunswick summers are set to get a lot hotter over the next three decades, and there's nothing that can be done about it.

That's the distressing conclusion drawn by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, based on projected temperature models.

In Saint John, there were, on average, two days above 30 C in the summer between 2005-2010. By 2050, the projections show that number will climb to 11 days.

The numbers are even more grim in Fredericton, which would normally record eight summer days above 30 C. That number will skyrocket to 42 by 2050.

Learning to live with heat

The Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation is an applied research centre at the University of Waterloo. The report, Irreversible Extreme Heat: Protecting Canadians and Communities from a Lethal Future was released in April.

The centre's head, Blair Feltmate. said while it's important to work on limiting the temperature increase for future generations, there's nothing that can be done to slow or stop warming in the province in the short term.

"The most we can do is slow down the rate of climate change, but we can't reverse it," said Feltmate.

Submitted by Blair Feltmate
Submitted by Blair Feltmate

"We're going to have to live with a hotter future."

If nothing can be done about the warming temperatures in the short term, the province must move toward ensuring people are prepared for a warmer future than would've been expected.

Feltmate said this includes making sure the province gives proper warnings for heat waves, so people who are more vulnerable to the heat can adjust their lifestyles accordingly.

"People that may have certain health conditions or respiratory conditions, they can make an effort to make sure that they're not out in harm's way, that they're somewhere cool when these extreme heat events hit," said Feltmate.

Feltmate said cities should also maintain up to date information about people who are vulnerable to high temperatures so that regular wellness checks can be carried out on them.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Other short-term measures include planting more trees to create more shade, and painting the roofs of buildings white.

"When sunlight hits the dark surface of roofs, only about 20 per cent of that energy radiates back up into space, and the rest of the energy stays in the system, attributing to the heat island effect within urban and suburban areas," said Feltmate.

Heat dangerous

Feltmate said increasing temperatures are the "code red" of climate change.

He said while higher temperatures may not seem as dangerous as some other consequences of climate change, like floods or forest fires, in fact heat waves traditionally cause more fatalities.

Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

"With floods and fires when things go wrong generally speaking, people do not die … the numbers are very low," said Feltmate.

"When things go wrong relative to extreme heat, people can die in high numbers."

Feltmate cited a British Columbia coroners report which said 619 people died prematurely due to last year's heatwave.

He also cited a 2018 heatwave in Quebec that killed 86 people.

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