“The book ‘downstream: reimagining water’ is an anthology,” explains Michael Blackstock. “It brings together the perspectives of artists, writers, scientists, scholars, environmentalists, and activists. It does this by exploring the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology. My chapter is titled Interweaving Water. It outlines four steps toward transforming sovereign knowledge into collaborative knowledge.”
British Columbia Context
“The challenge of climate change now demands a level of collaboration and commitment heretofore unseen,” stated Eric Bonham at the conclusion of the FLOWnGROW workshop on water sustainability in BC (Nov 2016)
“Michael’s message truly resonated with the audience, namely the interweaving of Western Science and First Nations Cultural Knowledge. The essence of Michael’s vision is embrace a water first approach. He describes water as a living entity – the sacred centre from which all other activities radiate. Western science and blue ecology are truly partners. It is time the marriage was made official. I believe that this was one of the most important take-away messages of the workshop,” stated Eric Bonham.
Our Climate is Changing: Will there be sufficient fresh water in the Lower Fraser River for agriculture in the future?
“Climate models predict warmer, longer, and drier summers. This means that farms within the Lower Fraser River will require more irrigation water in the future. Local sea level is predicted to rise and may contribute to an increasing quantity of salt water pushing up the river. In addition, changes to river hydrology may occur due to the removal of the George Massey Tunnel, possibly further increasing salinity levels,” states John ter Borg.
Longer, Drier, Hotter Summers: “2015 will be THE teachable year,” stated Kim Stephens in media interviews about the long-term impact of drought conditions in Southwest British Columbia
“The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is drought and flooding. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. This is putting water supply systems and ecosystems under extreme stress. If we seize the moment, we will change how we do business and the cumulative benefits will ripple through time,” stated Kim Stephens.
“The University of California’s Agricultural Issues Centre in Davis has compiled figures that allow some back-of-the-envelope calculations of how much water has been absorbed and is retained by fruits and vegetables that cross the international border in a year,” wrote Don Cayo.
FLASHBACK TO 2007: Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk: How we can adapt Water Management Systems
“Climate change is not the driver; rather, it is a variable. Furthermore, climate change is only one factor to consider when we talk about sustainable infrastructure. The key is to focus on what you want to do. Because many factors are in play, the objective is to build in resiliency to address risk,” stated Kim Stephens.
FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Adaptation to climate change: it’s all about the water” – British Columbia’s policy position
“There are two responses to climate change: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is alleviating the effects of climate change through reducing greenhouse gases. Adaptation is responding to the changes that will inevitably occur. If migation is about CARBON, then adaptation is about WATER,” stated Jim Mattison.
“While there may be general consensus on climate change predictions at the global scale, real discussion of climate change impacts in our own “backyard” – be it a city, a watershed, or a particular project site – is just getting started. In most cases, the emergence of “best practices” – or even “standard practices” – is still on the horizon,” stated Eric Bonham.
Climate Change Adaptation in BC: Helping Local Governments and Stakeholders Stay Afloat as the Tide Rises
“Climate change will radically affect the ecosystems we rely on, and knows no political boundaries, requiring local governments to think collaboratively about shared watersheds and coastlines, and stretching already overloaded human and financial resources,” states Deborah Harford.
“Michael Blackstock proposes that we re-examine climate change from a ‘water first’ angle because the rhythm of water’s transformations between solid, liquid, and gaseous states on our planet is undergoing a significant change, and at a significant rate. He sees as essential the acknowledgement of water’s central functional and spiritual roles in our world, and urges us to apply both respect and science-based understanding,” stated Kim Stephens.