When it comes to taking sides in the climate change debate, Bill Casey takes the middle ground.
During a meeting at the Cumberland County Museum in Amherst, the former Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP spoke to 30 people about dykelands and rising sea levels being witnessed in Cumberland County.
"Global warming is very controversial," Casey said. "Is there global warming, isn't there global warming? Is it man-made, is it not man-made? Is it a natural cycle or something else? Is it from an increase in greenhouse gases or isn't it?
"A lot of questions need to be resolved but that doesn't matter to me," Casey said. "What matters to me is that it is happening and it has to be addressed."
To emphasize his argument, Casey pointed to a Government of Canada map showing the vulnerability of rising sea levels to Cumberland County communities along the Bay of Fundy.
"The United Nations Panel on Global Warming in 2007 said the two most vulnerable areas in North America are the Bay of Fundy and New Orleans, both of which are areas where dykes were built by the Acadians to keep the sea at bay," Casey said.
How much sea levels will rise in the Bay of Fundy is unknown.
"In the next hundred years, sea levels could rise from three inches to 35 inches, that's a huge variance," Casey said. "That depends on how much the temperature goes up and depends on how much ice melts. At the isthmus (the Tantramar Marsh between Amherst and Sackville) we are very vulnerable because of the combination of land going down, water coming up and the exacerbation of the tides on the Bay of Fundy."
Casey highlighted Advocate as a shoreline community that needs to be addressed immediately.
"Advocate will be a pioneer in solutions to rising sea levels," Casey said. "Advocate is below sea level now and, with the highest tide, the sea level comes up to the original Acadian dyke, which had been extended and enhanced over the years. If that dyke is breached, the town of Advocate will never be the same."
The fact that Cumberland County has been designated as a high priority bodes well for this area, Casey said.
"There's going to be a tremendous competition for resources to fix this problem but this is one of the first areas to be identified, so it is getting some attention. The federal government has put money aside to analyze it and see what needs to be done."
Casey now works as a liaison for the Nova Scotia government in Ottawa.