Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing Alberta province. It is a social problem that has seen the community experiencing climate change effects such as landslides, forest fires, floods, storm surges, droughts, and rising sea levels (Schneider et al., 2009). This has had a detrimental impact on the community’s social-economic activities affecting agriculture and other industries. Despite the government’s efforts to curb the effects of climate change, visible changes have not been dully recorded, requiring policy action. This policy’s primary recommendation is that the government and other organizations need to support the community financially and with education to help it adopt renewable sources of energy and stay informed about how it can address the issue.
Scope of the Problem
Climate change is a global, national, and community problem that needs to be addressed. In rural Alberta, it is a major issue affecting the community in many negative ways. It affects almost all aspects of the lives of populations living in rural Alberta, ranging from health, transport, work, farming, and many other activities (Thompson et al., 2017). Those are the areas that humans depend upon to live sustainable lives. However, for rural Albertans, climate change has disrupted their lives, which implies that something has to be done about it. Mainly, due to climate changes, the community experiences flash floods, forest fires, droughts, storm surges, landslides, coastal erosion, and rising sea level.
This poses a threat to Albertan’s life because they may lead to death if such occurrences occur. For example, if landslides arise, they may carry away people or houses where people live. In that case, due to climate change, the landslide results in the death of individuals. This can also happen through other effects such as drought or forest fires. Given that lives are precious, the government should ensure that it protects the lives of individuals from the adverse impact of climate change. However, drawing many campaigns that do not translate into benefits within rural Alberta cannot solve the problem of climate change. The campaigns need to be complemented with policies that explicitly and precisely inform how the issue can be addressed; hence, there is a need for policy action.
Effects of Climate Change in Alberta
Alberta is the 4th largest province in Canada; therefore, it forms a significant part of Canada’s population. Despite being one of the largest provinces in Canada, it faces a lot of environmental challenges due to climate change. Specifically, one of the leading effects is forest fires; in 2016, a forest fire blazed through Fort McMurray was witnessed (Mamuji & Rozdilsky, 2018). Besides, another study shows that the area continues to record more forest fires, something that should elicit a reaction (Davidson et al., 2019).
Another effect is unhealthy and unwanted air emissions from an oil refinery company within the heart of Alberta (Klein, 2017). This means that people start having issues with their health, such as respiratory and skin diseases. Even though the oil refinery cannot be transferred since transfer will still affect people from another province, a policy on the number of emissions should be put in place. The third effect is pipeline oil or oil spills. It is a controllable effect that can also be controlled or eliminated through policies. Fourthly, since it is a rural community, there is the vast human consumption of limited resources, which results in depletion. For example, people could cut trees and clear forests, searching for wood for business. In that case, the climate will be affected in that there will be limited rainfall, which will have a devastating impact on agriculture. Lastly, the increased use of greenhouse gases (GHG) has also affected the environment by increasing the temperatures, resulting in ice melting and drying up of water bodies (Li et al., 2017). All these have a devastating impact on the survival of the Alberta community.
The government of Canada, together with organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the rural municipalities of Alberta (RMA), and the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre (MCCAC), are working to address the issue of climate change in Alberta (Boyd, 2018). Specifically, they involve the community in promoting a clean and renewable environment, promoting made-in Canada clean technologies, and encouraging electric vehicle (EV) stations. Besides, they are also helping the community come up with alternatives for fuel infrastructure and transition into cleaner energy sources.
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As much as these initiatives are crucial in addressing climate change, the proposed option in this policy is that the organizations and Canadian government should help Albertans make the changes by supporting them financially and mentally. This means that the initiative needs to be reinforced by helping the community look for alternatives through financial waivers. This is because most of them opt for activities that degrade the environment of lead to climate change. After all, they cannot afford more advanced alternatives (McDonald‐Harker et al., 2020). Besides, most of them may not be aware of the activities that lead to adverse climate change due to ignorance, making education or mental preparedness a vital option. Studies have shown that education on issues complements other actions in leading to a successful change (Viennet & Pont, 2017: Monroe et al., 2017). Hence education will be crucial in addressing change.
The following recommendations are pointed out to help address the issue of climate change and avoid the acceleration of its effects on the livelihood of Albertans.
- Energy Efficiency. The government and energy-related organizations need to support Albertans both financially and with the knowledge to establish and implement renewable energy projects. This can include wind energy systems or solar electric generating systems to limit effects on the environment. Studies have shown that solar and wind systems are vital in helping reduce environmental gases’ impact on the environment (Shahsavari & Akbari, 2018).
- Carbon levy. Although this policy is currently in place, it should be revised. Carbon levy is imposed on Albertans who have no transportation options other than using fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Instead of imposing the carbon levy, Albertans with no alternative to fossil fuel vehicles should be supported by enabling them to access carbon-free cars. This policy benefits the community and the environment at the same time rather than leaving the community without transportation options. The government needs to help farmers have access to organic manure in the agriculture sector and carbon emissions. Besides, it needs to educate them on effective ways of doing sustainable farming to reduce the emission of carbon into the atmosphere.
- Phase-out coal-generated electricity. Although this could be an expensive proposition, it is an excellent way of ensuring sustainability. Transition into newer and more efficient renewable sources should be implemented to halt coal-generated electricity in Alberta. However, this requires the government and other agencies to step in and help residents who will be affected by the transition financially. Provisions need to be made to cushion their facilities to ensure that their social-economic activities are not affected by the transition. By this, the government will be able to make changes effectively without affecting the social-economic lives of the residents. This will lead to an efficient and successful transition.
- Offer education. According to studies, education is an effective tool in addressing a challenge, especially on a community level (Monroe et al., 2017). Issues such as deforestation need to be confronted by offering education on trees’ importance to climate sustainability. Also, the emission of GHG cannot be halted without adopting renewable sources and other alternatives. It can be accomplished by educating the community on how to go about energy-efficient projects.
Support for such recommendations will significantly improve the climate change condition in rural Alberta.
Boyd, B. (2018). A Province under Pressure: Climate Change Policy in Alberta. Canadian Journal Of Political Science, 52(1), 183-199. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0008423918000410
Davidson, D., Fisher, A., & Blue, G. (2019). Missed opportunities: the absence of climate change in media coverage of forest fire events in Alberta. Climatic Change, 153(1-2), 165-179. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02378-w
Klein, N. (2017). Now is the time to talk about climate change. Green Left Weekly, (1151), 15. https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/informit.084865942116563
Li, M., Hua, B., & Luo, J. (2017). Alternative Fuel Cell Technologies for Cogenerating Electrical Power and Syngas from Greenhouse Gases. ACS Energy Letters, 2(8), 1789-1796. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsenergylett.7b00392