Are we past the tipping point? And if we are - what do we do now?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 21, 2016


Is it already too late?

Have we passed the tipping point and are at the point where the greenhouse gasses already in the environment is going to continually increase the amount of CO2 and ice caps will continue to melt – the sea level will continue to rise and places like parts of Florida will just be under water.


The Maldives Islands are expected to slip under the water as the sea level rises.

The people who study this stuff seriously are believed to being preparing plans for the changes that are going to take place. There are parts of the American coast line that are being given up to rising water levels.

There are places in Burlington and the surrounding community where concrete docks that boats used to be tied up to are now several feet under water.

And at the same time there are lakes in Northern Ontario where the wooden dock sits in the middle of dry lake bottom with the water tens of yards away when it used to lap at the edge of the dock while children jumped into the water from deck.

Are the scientists and the emergency planners telling the public the truth about what we are really up against?

There is a part of Burlington where there are some 72 homes that are in a flood plain and will eventually have to be removed. Those homes are clearly marked on a map that the city has not hidden – nor is it something they have talked about all that much.

Burlington knows that it is going to have to have a lot of money in reserve funds for the next flood. The people who do this kind of work don’t use the word “if” when talking about the next flood – for them the key word is “when” followed by “where”. Burlington

Tony Bavota - fire chief

There are parts of Burlington that are very threatened should the city experience another 190mm + of rain in half a day. The Fire department managed the Emergency Measures.

Fire Chief Tony Bavota said at a public meeting that given what we know today – Hidden Valley would not have been built. The flood potential in that part of the city is “something we could not handle”. For the fire chief Hidden Valley is a potential ground zero.

We know these things today and yet the best we seem to be able to do is work harder at recycling those plastic water bottles when the things should be banned.

Use public transit that doesn’t yet meet the needs of people who need to be able to get from place to place in a reasonable amount of time.

New street paving

The focus in Burlington is on re-building roads.

Burlington spends tens of millions repairing the roads so that people can drive comfortably. This is a city that has an ageing population that was raised on the automobile during a time when gas was cheap and they are never going to give up their cars until someone takes their driver’s license away from them.

And they are a large enough cohort to scare the daylight out over every politician at every level; appealing to them to make the change for the sake of their grandchildren? They want that car so they can visit their grandchildren and they aren’t going to make that trip by bicycle or public transit.

When MP Pam Damoff asked people what they thought could be done – the true believers, the ones who belong to Burlington or Oakville Green, talked about the time they spend planting trees and cleaning up the ravines each year and do the ongoing persistent advocating. But in Burlington there still isn’t a private tree bylaw.

Some serious mistakes were made with the way most of the planners did things in terms of land use planning – they didn’t seem like mistakes at the time but we are now at a point where it is close to impossible to correct those mistakes.

We have lost a lot of time.

At best it is going to take bold action to bring about any change – and it is all three levels of government that are going to have to take those bold steps.

They can’t begin to do much of that until the public is ready – and that isn’t going to happen until the public realizes the wolves are at the door.

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2 comments to Are we past the tipping point? And if we are – what do we do now?

  • Hans

    I agree with what Greg said.

  • You don’t distribute intensification all around the city in a pattern that can not possibly create any benefit (E.G. Pedestrian Commercial base) yet insures negatives (E.G. traffic congestion). You think cars are bad, study the co2 emissions of cars in traffic jams. Then take site after site with 60 foot trees on cut them down then slap up an apartment building and pretend you are “transforming” anything.

    What you are going to do is create the greyest and most car dependent version of Burlington yet.