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Climate Change Adaptation

“We may have crossed an invisible threshold into a new climate regime.” – Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair in Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health


“This past summer, if you wanted to know what climate change will mean to your future, all you had to do was be outside to see what is to come. The entire Northern Hemisphere was impacted by extreme weather – drought, forest fires or flooding,” stated Bob Sandford. “With some 560 forest fires burning in B.C. this past summer, thousands on evacuation notices and smoke that could impact most of western Canada and the northern US well into autumn, many are now thinking about where we are headed and just how fast we may get there.”

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NEW NORMAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The impact of climate change is yet another thing to add to the list of worries for any finance minister,” wrote Keith Baldrey, Global BC political commentator


“As Mother Nature takes her toll on vast swaths of this province, one of the folks nervously watching those disasters unfold surely has to be B.C.’s finance minister,” wrote Keith Baldrey. “Weather patterns seem to be changing due to climate change with potentially dire consequences for the government treasury. Massive flooding and fires may become the norm going forward, and so future provincial budgets may have to deal with much bigger costs than in the past in terms of dealing with disasters.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “To say that we are not adequately dealing with the climate threat is an understatement,” stated Bob Sandford during the public lecture at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


“While it seems sometimes that the only indicators of interest to our society are economic, the really important trend in my mind is the one being largely ignored: that is the Keeling Curve – the rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’ atmosphere,” stated Bob Sandford. “Unless you don’t believe in gravity and in the world you have created for yourself apples don’t fall from trees, the immutable laws of atmospheric physics point clearly in the direction climate disruption if not disaster. In one short human lifetime the concentration of one of the most critical greenhouse gases in the Earth’s fragile atmosphere has risen in by 35%.”

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NEW REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF A CHANGING CLIMATE: “Addressing the New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in B.C.” (May 2018)


An independent review of British Columbia’s response to last year’s wildfires and flooding makes 108 recommendations and calls for an overhaul of disaster response practices. The review says there should be a partnership with First Nations, local, provincial and federal governments to better prepare for emergencies. “2017 was by no means an anomaly or a one-off,” George Abbott said. “It is something that we have to prepare for every year. There is a world of evidence that climate change is impacting us in profound ways.”

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OUR CLIMATE IS CHANGING: “We are already noticing that big fires are influencing flooding, they go together,” said University of British Columbia forestry professor Lori Daniels


Not only are the trees destroyed, but depending on the intensity of a fire, a thick absorbent layer of organic matter may also have burned off. And if that isn’t bad enough, burned forest duff is full of fats and waxes that create a slick surface that allows water to bead, pool and run off. “That waxy film makes the soils hydrophobic, so they don’t absorb the water any more, they shed it,” explained Lori Daniels. “After a fire where there is white ash you can see rivulets of water forming little channels instead of soaking in.”

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“Communities can advance mitigation and adaptation agendas simultaneously through ‘Green Resilience’ strategies,” stated Deborah Harford, Executive Director, the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) at Simon Fraser University


“Climate change impacts such as flooding, drought, and other forms of extreme weather are projected to increase in frequency and severity in the future,” stated Deborah Harford. “Plans are now under consideration to create a cross-country dialogue regarding climate resilience and GHG mitigation and to form working groups to advance recommendations on research, capacity-building, and policies to support implementation of green resilience solutions.”

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NEW BOOK (January 2018): “The Hard Work of Hope – Climate Change in the Age of Trump” – co-authored by Bob Sanford and Jon O’Riordan – seeks to develop effective solutions to the growing urgency for global action on climate change


This latest Rocky Mountain Books Manifesto emphasizes three themes: the growing urgency for global action regarding climate change; the fact that future development must not just avoid causing damage but strive to be ecologically and socially restorative; and the reality that effective solutions require changes to technology, restoration of biodiversity and increased public awareness. “Hope will require hard work by everyone if our planet is to remain a desirable place to live in a warming world,” wrote Jon O’Riordan.

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THE HARD WORK OF HOPE: “We still have a chance to save our environment,” wrote Bob Sandford in an opinion piece published in conjunction with release of his latest book (January 2018)


“The 2030 Transforming Our World agenda raises the ceiling on sustainability. The agenda makes it very clear that sustainable development can no longer simply aim for environmentally neutral solutions,” wrote Bob Sandford. “Canada, and British Columbia in particular, are in a good position to make sustainability possible. Though our society is powered by petroleum and lubricated by oil, it floats on water. Our society is a vessel in its own right. It is a lifeboat carrying us all over water toward the future.”

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CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION: “If communities are to adapt, and be quick about it, we must move beyond ‘shock and yawn’,” wrote Bob McDonald in a co-authored opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun (November 2017)


“No longer is climate change a future scenario. It has happened more quickly than predicted. The real story is the accelerating rate of change, especially since extreme events create their own weather,” stated Bob McDonald. “As glaciers disappear and droughts become more frequent, it is vital, in every sense of the word to manage our most precious resource wisely. Actually adapting requires transformational changes in how we apply hydrologic understanding.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: “We are now specifically planning for not only the changes we can control, but the biggest one we can’t, which is the precipitation itself,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney when explaining the addition of the Climate Change Module in the Water Balance Model for British Columbia


“The Climate Change Module enables a wide range of stakeholders to make decisions based on a detailed assessment of climate change effects on local drainage, without having to decode the huge body of confusing and contradictory literature,” stated Charles Rowney. “Delivering this capability quickly and easily on the web is a ‘must’ – and this result is a ‘first’. The art form here was to find a way to incorporate meaningful estimates of future precipitation.”

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