Understanding and Assessing Impacts
The community is working closely with the Climate Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island to map out what the future of Lennox Island is likely to look like. In 2011 the community undertook a series of computer simulations aimed to develop a better understanding of the full impact of climate change on Lennox Island. Maps have been created that show which parts of the Island will be submerged by sea level rise as well as the areas of the island most impacted by coastal erosion. Maps use both historical climate data and future climate projections as a means of comparison.
Lennox Island First Nation is experiencing many climate impacts, including sea level rise (which could rise up to 3m in the next 50 years, translating to approximately half of the island’s land mass), changes in ice cover and thickness, melting of sea ice, coastal erosion, increases in storm surges, and damages to critical local infrastructure. The major climate risks and vulnerabilities facing the Lennox Island First Nation community include a loss of cultural heritage, loss of traditional way of life, loss of human security, extreme weather disruptions, and loss of homes and property loss. Key critical infrastructure is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including the only bridge that connects the island to the province of PEI, which significantly increases the vulnerability of the community in the event of an emergency. However, the sewage lagoon – which is located too close to the coastline – is potentially the most vulnerable piece of infrastructure. Of particular significance is the risk to cultural heritage; inundation from rising sea levels is impacting cultural heritage sites and land where the First Nation collects materials for ceremonies and flooding ancient burial grounds. There are also risks to the local oyster fishery. The island is losing its land base at an accelerating rate. Many community members feel that while climate action is necessary, it will only delay the inevitable, which is tremendously heavy to carry.