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Declaring climate war - Annapolis Royal council taking up arms against threat of rising sea levels

Members of Annapolis Royal’s town council declared a climate war Nov. 18. Some predictions pots most of the town under water during flood conditions as early as 2050. From left are Holly Sanford, Paula Hafting, Bill MacDonald, Pat Power, and John Kinsella.
Members of Annapolis Royal’s town council declared a climate war Nov. 18. Some predictions pots most of the town under water during flood conditions as early as 2050. From left are Holly Sanford, Paula Hafting, Bill MacDonald, Pat Power, and John Kinsella. - Lawrence Powell
ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, N.S. —

The most fought over piece of real estate in North America is being fought over again.

This time it’s a determined town council against a changing climate.

While almost 500 other municipalities across Canada have declared a climate emergency, Annapolis Royal went on the offensive Nov. 18 and declared war.

“The declaration of a climate war is in response to sea level flood risk maps showing 95 per cent of Annapolis Royal under water by 2050,” said Mayor Bill MacDonald after Coun. Holly Sanford made the motion.

“The declaration of a climate war, rather than a climate crisis or emergency, is to reflect and underscore the immediacy of our need to mobilize against the possible devastation of our town,” he said. “It’s not just a priority - it’s a matter of survival.”

The urgency of the situation struck home, literally, when he attended a recent Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities meeting where he saw those maps that depict the effect of sea level rise combined with high tides and storm surges on Annapolis Royal by the year 2050. Almost the entire town was under water at annual flood levels. In fact, the map shows the Valley floor between Highway 1 and Highway 201 completely submerged east past Bridgetown and as far as Paradise.

“We are going on the offensive in declaring a climate war - mobilizing to take whatever action necessary to identify appropriate infrastructure that will ensure the survival of our community, and to secure whatever funds necessary to ensure the installation or construction of this defence,” MacDonald said in an interview.

CLIMATE WAR

“I think the term ‘climate war ‘is very apt for the situation,” said Deputy Mayor Pat Power after Coun. Paula Hafting questioned the wording and preferred the term ‘climate emergency’ used by other municipalities. “As you said, a lot of municipalities have declared a climate emergency, but we thought that because of the devastation of our whole lower end of town, it’s more important. It’s us against nature. We have to guard ourselves and do whatever we can to make sure that doesn’t happen, so I’m comfortable with the term ‘climate war.’”

Coun. Sanford, who owns a shop almost at sea level on St. George Street, said you can call it whatever you want but it has to be taken seriously.

“I do think that term ‘war,’ that word, will be taken seriously, especially when we are fighting for money. That’s what we’re going to have to be fighting for is money from governments, money from grants to get any amount to this town because we are small and we sometimes don’t get the help that we need.”

MODEL OUTPUTS

“It seems to me, the big changes we’re going to see are the ones between now and 2030, just because of the topography,” local ecologist Hague Vaughan, a retired career scientist with Environment Canada said in A nov. 19 interview. He said the way it fills in the bottom of the Valley we will see major influx around Annapolis Royal by about 2030. 

“People keep saying they disagree with this, or they don’t believe us,” Vaughan said. “It isn’t a matter of belief. It’s just extrapolation from observations, through models, to what we predict.”

Vaughan also pointed out that the projection maps show where highways will be breached. In Annapolis Royal, Highway 1 from Granville Ferry to the other side of Allain’s Creek could be under water during flood conditions.

“What people want to see is how bad is it going to be, where and when,” Vaughan said. “It’s pretty hard to do the exact ‘when’ but we have a pretty good idea of where it’s going to be and it’s basically going to be in Annapolis Royal.”

URGENCY

“It certainly was my intention to get people’s attention -- and hopefully governments’ -- when I recommended to council that we declare a climate war instead of a crisis or emergency,” MacDonald said during the interview. “I wanted to underscore the urgency, and those maps certainly get your attention. Regardless of where we ultimately find ourselves in 2050, I won’t be accused of sitting in my hands.”

The maps MacDonald refers to are from the website www.climatecentral.org. Climate Central is an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about changing climate and its impact on the public and is based out of Princeton, NJ.

On the top right of the website’s opening page, type in ‘Annapolis Royal’ and those same maps will appear and readers can move the map up and down the Annapolis River and the Annapolis Basin.

“We have an obligation as the custodians of the most important historic places in Canada to protect and serve, and nothing short of mobilization to protect it is needed,” said MacDonald.

Annapolis Royal was the site of 13 battles and changed hands between the French and English seven times, making it the most fought over land in North America.

“Not unlike the French and English commanders, who fortified the town against military attack and threats by land and sea, our responsibility now is to defend the town against the threat of global warming - with a need to fortify against attacks from a rising sea level,” the mayor said during the Nov. 18 council session. “Council cannot ignore the magnitude of the threat or the potential risk of our town’s total devastation.”
He said the world is in the midst of a climate war, with the mobilization of armies of scientists, citizens, and environmentalists, defending the planet against climate change deniers.
“There are battles to fight, to preserve what we have and where we live,” MacDonald said. “Annapolis Royal is on the frontline, with our waterfront, and will be defended at all costs.”

Council voted unanimously in favour of the motion to declare a climate war.

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