We’ve got two choices: switch to a cleaner, more renewable energy source — hydro, solar, wind (all of which are quite viable as European countries are demonstrating) — or we can keep on burning oil and filling the atmosphere with fumes that trap heat on earth … and prepare ourselves for the consequences of our actions. 

A recent press release from the Government of NL states, in a positive tone, we’d rather do the latter. “The Department of Environment and Conservation has completed a climate change flood risk mapping study for the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s.”

Dan Crummell is both Minister of Environment and Conservation, and Minister Responsible for the Office of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. He says that “Flood risk mapping helps communities prepare for increases in extreme precipitation and is therefore a crucial tool in efforts to adapt to climate change.”

We are actively preparing for an apocalyptic doomsday we are creating ourselves, in the quest for more oil money. “These studies help us identify areas susceptible to flooding due to climate change, as well as the steps required to reduce flood damage, and measures to enhance public safety,” Crummell says.

Is the economy more important than life itself? Are we not wise enough to adapt to a world in which we don’t rely on oil? Did we not exist before the discovery of oil? Are we more scared of its absence in our lives than of death itself?”

Active climate change readiness is a clear declaration we are aware that we are destroying the planet we live on. It’s quite literally a slow and senseless suicide.

“Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is a growing, vibrant community with many young families increasingly making this their home,” says David Brazil, MHA for Conception Bay East-Bell Island. “The flood risk mapping is an important piece of work to help the town with its planning to accommodate future growth in the area, and most importantly, to ensure the safety and health of all residents.”

The press release goes on to admit its true intentions are not environmental, but economic. “The climate change flood risk mapping study will assist in regulating new developments in flood-prone areas; help minimize flood damage to properties and the environment; and restrict activities that could degrade water resources.”

The only sensible commentary on the matter comes from Moses Tucker, mayor of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, who concedes the fruitlessness of trying to end climate change. “Like many communities, our council and residents have had growing concerns about the impact of climate change and flood risk on our community.”

He’s just happy, whatever the province’s motivation for the flood mapping study, that the town will be better prepared than other towns … who have too quickly forgotten how fast something like Hurricane Igor can turn a community upside down.

2014’s budget has allotted a three-year, $400,000 annual commitment from government to undertake one climate change flood risk mapping study each year. “It is important for responsible and informed risk management planning in communities; ensuring public safety and public health; adapting to the impacts of climate change; and appropriate emergency response to flood events.”

It’s definitely commendable and wise to get prepared for climate change. But saying “Well, Newfoundland can’t end this itself,” is a little misinformed since Newfoundland is certainly a little more complicit in keeping the oil industry alive than most provinces.

We’ve based our economy on it for decades. So fact is, we can help curb it, and everyone saying “we can’t help end climate change if other provinces and states aren’t going to” is circular apathy that’ll guide us nowhere in changing our ways.