Jim Hilton talks climate change in this week’s edition of Forest Ink. (Patrick Davies photo-Williams Lake Tribune)

FOREST INK: Climate change convert

I would be the first to admit I had a problem with blaming human produced greenhouse gases

My concerns about the cause of climate change were challenged after a radio interview with a climate scientist emphasizing the need for more dialogue between groups because of an increasing polarized view on the complex topic of climate change.

I would be the first to admit I had a problem with blaming human produced greenhouse gases (GHG) for the melting of polar ice and many glaciers.

Scientists had been describing the wild fluctuations in climate which produced glaciers over much of the northern latitudes which we live on today and this could not be blamed on the human race which was not producing the vast amounts of GHG that are being pumped out today.

I do not have a problem seeing the negative impacts of the seven billon people, soon to be eight billion by the addition of 80 million every year.

Read More: FOREST INK: Choices for a better future

The pollution of our land and oceans with millions of tons of plastic and loss of native species with our deforestation, huge numbers of domestic animals and plants was not easy to dismiss but the climate change was a problem for me.

After all plants thrive in a high mix of carbon dioxide as it is essential for photosynthesis.

Also we were told that GHG were responsible for keeping our planet at a comfortable 15 degrees centigrade rather than zero degrees without the gasses.

So how urgent was it to switch from getting over 80 per cent of our energy needs from fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) to much more expensive and intermiten sources like wind and solar.

My research to date had been inconclusive with scientists arguing both sides, until I came across a resource in the local library. “Earth’s Changing Climate” by Richard Wolfson consists of a DVD and 82 page guide book produced by the Teaching Company 2007.

Professor Wolfson covers 12, half hour lessons using a variety of graphs and flow charts.

The first six lessons are about the many ways that scientists have been determining the warming and cooling cycles over the past decades and as far back as one million years.

While some of the material is very technical, the author does a good job of making it understandable. For me the most convincing part was the many methods used for arriving at the temperature and carbon dioxide levels in the past and present.

The flow charts of the energy and carbon dioxide cycles were also very informative and set the stage for the last six lessons on how slight changes in some elements can make a huge change in the impacts on the environment and introduces the topics of the last two lessons.

Read More: Experts say climate change is driving up the risk of wildfires in Canada

Some would argue that Wolfson is too optimistic where he states: “There are many paths to a stable climate and we have the luxury of choice. But we don’t have the luxury of time.”

I appreciate his cautious approach and was intrigued by the suggestion of CO2 stabilization through the “Wedge” approach which I think is very promising.

The objective is to use seven distinct methods to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Some of the choices are the following: substituting nuclear for coal-fired electric plants, substituting natural gas for coal, using biofuels for transportation, implementing carbon capture and sequestration, planting trees in temperate climates, building wind turbines and photovoltaic power to replace coal, halt tropical forest deforestation and restore 300 million acres of damage forests.

If we start now with these replacement methods and increase them each year for 50 years we may be able to get back to where we are today.

Some of the ways to encourage the adoption of these alternatives will be the topic of future articles.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wells mining camp worker tests positive for COVID-19

A worker at a mining camp tested positive for the coronavirus after leaving the camp.

Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk 2020 opens Aug. 7

This year’s event features 27 businesses and 28 artists

Rodeo clinic, ranch visit entertains First Nations youth and elders in B.C.’s Interior

A fun time had for Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation at C+ Rodeos

Studies show Mount Polley Mine breach material re-suspends in Quesnel Lake

High copper levels continue in Quesnel River six years after breach

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Interior Health reports nine new cases of COVID-19, 149 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

Interior Health expands COVID-19 testing access in Kelowna

First-come, first-serve, no-appointment-needed testing centre opens in downtown Kelowna

Most Read