It has been one heartbreaking report after another from the UN lately. Firstly, the IPCC’s special report in late 2018 on Global Warming of 1.5ºC charts a catastrophic future unless we dramatically and immediately reduce our global carbon footprint.
And last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published an alarming report on the planet’s diminishing biodiversity and the million species at risk of extinction. These scientific reports are a wake-up call and a reminder that nature and climate are critical in sustaining human life.
Human-made global warming and diminishing biodiversity have already had an observable effect on the Lower Mainland.
Our glaciers have shrunk considerably in the past half-century and UBC scientists estimate that by 2100, 90 per cent of our glaciers will be gone.
In the past decade, the average snowpack in B.C. has reduced 25 per cent and over the next 50 years, it is estimated to reduce by another 50 per cent. Without this cooling effect of snow and glacial melt in our rivers and streams, Pacific salmon runs likely won’t be here in 2050 as a salmon’s metabolism is specific to cooler water temperatures.
By 2040 or sooner, North Shore mountains will no longer have a ski season. We may be skiing in Whistler for another decade but the days of skiing peak to valley will be a distant memory. And the Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort project may become urban sprawl at its worst if a winter ski season simply doesn’t exist.
We are going to see more frequent, very big, very hot, very hard to put out and very expensive fires in the coming decades. The health risk and costs of diminishing air quality will be staggering. How will this affect outdoor workers, kids field sports and other recreational activities?
We will need to think differently about our seemingly limitless water supply and invest in new ways to stockpile and conserve water. Water will become a resource more important and valuable than oil.
And I have not even covered storm surges and sea level rise, agriculture, food costs and security, and a litany of other challenges that will affect the macro and micro aspects of our daily lives.
Our opportunity margin to stave off catastrophic climate change and the very real natural and human costs involved is quickly closing. Let’s stop fooling around because it’s not too late to rewrite the future.