Climate Change In British Columbia
Climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon that has shaped the Earth’s environment since the Earth was formed. The Earth and its creatures, including humans, have adapted to these changes over time, living through ice ages and periods of heat. However, the pace of change has increased dramatically since the dawn of the Industrial Age in the early 1900’s due to humanity’s introduction and use of petrochemical-based industrial processes and wholesale extraction and destruction of Earth’s natural resources.
A major result of these activities is an ongoing and accelerating elevation in global temperatures due to an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases, particularly CO2 and methane. The impacts of these changes will affect all life forms on the planet for hundreds, if not thousands, of years to come.
Climate change affects us personally and on local, provincial, national and global scales. The safety, security and health of future generations depend on the actions we take now. It is time to reassess our priorities and values. We need to transition from competition and confrontation to cooperation and compassion. To create a world of social justice and sustainable living for all the world’s peoples and for all the life that depends on a healthy environment, each of us should start making positive change at home, in our communities, and throughout the world.
This brief overview describes the changes that may be experienced in British Columbia, and the adaptation and mitigation actions that each of us can take to prepare for these significant changes. Please use this document to help prepare for the climatic changes to come and to make BC a truly super, natural place to live today and for generations to come.
The impact of climate change on you, your family and your community
- Increase in the frequency and duration of extreme weather events – heavier precipitation, stronger winds, larger storm surges.
- Hotter and drier summers; warmer and more variable winters; fewer frost days; higher warming effect in the northeast section of the province.
- More snow in winter, but faster melt. Spring melt could result in more flooding. Less snow remaining in mountains during summer and fall, resulting in lower river flows throughout the province. An increased probability of drought.
- Sea level rise up to 1 metre by 2100 CE.
- Increase in ocean acidity; disruption of salmon migratory patterns; decrease in the ability of sea creatures to produce shells.
- Shift in the distributional range of insects and other life-forms northwards from warmer climates.
What you can do to help
- Reduce, reuse, recycle waste.
- Drive less – walk, cycle or use public transit.
- Plant trees.
- Buy locally.
- Use water sparingly.
- Lower the thermostat; wear warmer clothing if necessary.
- Live sustainably.
What you can do to adapt
- Store food and water for emergencies.
- Relocate away from sea shores and river deltas. Raise your home to alleviate flooding.
- Grow your own food, and share it with neighbours.
- Compost food wastes.
- Develop a neighbourhood emergency response plan.
- Use nature-based fertilizers and pesticides.
- Learn about local medicinal plants and practice preventative health care.
The following reports have been referenced in the preparation of this document:
- Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2012, City of Vancouver (available at http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/Vancouver-Climate-Change-Adaptation-Strategy-2012-11-07.pdf
- Fifth Assessment Report 2013, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (available at http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images/uploads/IPCC_WG2AR5_SPM_Approved.pdf)
Please read both reports for additional information about climate change in BC, particularly in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and in the world at large.