It’s raining outside. That might not sound unusual, except that this is mid-December in the Cariboo. This precipitation should be forming our snowpack, storing water for our drier summer ahead. Instead it is running over the ground, into our lakes and rivers and heading to the ocean.
The most recent UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns of a very bleak world ahead if drastic action to cut carbon emissions isn’t taken soon. Some municipalities and regional districts have started to act without waiting for direction from national governments as they can see the local effects of climate change on ranching and forestry operations, ski hills and other tourism businesses and municipal water sources. Cities in the South Western United States are running out of water as aquifers deplete and glacier-fed rivers dry up. What will they do when the Colorado River has given up its last drops and there is nothing left underground? Thirty million thirsty Americans looking north at our water has serious implications for Canadians.
Locally we have seen the effects on the forest industry of the pine beetle; ski hills with no snow; ranchers with dry creeks, the rising cost of insurance as claims soar with increased frequency of forest fires, storms and floods province wide. Our electricity in B.C. depends on a steady water supply, in turn dependent on a no longer predictable snowpack.
Grocery bills are climbing. It is hard to farm when the your fields are flooded in the spring, you face increasing droughts in the summer or torrential rains, the creek you used to irrigate from dries up and your electricity and insurance rates have soared.
Looking further afield, climate change can be directly linked to emerging health threats, potential military conflicts and the collapse of marine ecosystems as the ocean acidifies.
B.C. introduced a carbon tax in 2008: since then, fuel consumption is 17 per cent lower, yet economic growth has out-paced the rest of Canada. So while individual actions matter, the real responsibility for the big changes needed lies with our policy makers. This is too big an issue to place on individuals alone.
We need to elect representatives at all levels of government that can see the bigger picture. Ones that understand that the environment and the economy are the same thing. Maybe then we can start to look forward to a reasonable future for our children.
For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise and any of our school and community programs, contact the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.cconserv.org.
Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society