According to the 2020 Adaptation Gap Report, released on Thursday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), as temperatures rise and climate change impacts intensify, nations must urgently step up action to adapt to the new climate reality or face serious costs, damages and losses.
Canada’s governments and corporate leaders are failing to account for the growing and costly impacts that the climate crisis will wreak on the country’s physical landscape and infrastructure, and their lack of foresight will drive up the cost of adaptation in the future.
In August, as wildfires crept close to the historic Lick Observatory near San Jose, California, Claire Max watched as live webcams showed flames edging toward observatory buildings and several telescopes. In the end, firefighters kept the flames at bay. Although two unused buildings were destroyed and several houses were damaged, the working telescopes only had a bit of ash on the mirrors. “We really lucked out,” says Max, director of the University of California Observatories, which runs Lick. Coastal California has always experienced cycles of drought and fire, she says. “But it’s perfectly plausible for people to say global warming didn’t make it any better.”