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British Columbia Context

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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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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DOWNLOAD ARTICLE: Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium shines spotlight on “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” (March 2017)


”The stewardship and conservation sector has traditionally focused on habitat restoration and protection of lands with high ecological values,” states David Stapley, Program Manager with the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership. “With cumulative impacts from climate change, urban and resource development escalating, these groups have now become community leaders in educating and supporting improved land use practices.”

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“Recently identified (climate change) phenomena such as atmospheric rivers demand our full attention,” stated Bob Sandford – EPCOR Chair for Water & Climate Security, United Nations University Institute – in his call to action at FLOWnGROW workshop (Nov 2016)


“We have known for more than a century that for every degree Celsius of warming we can expect the atmosphere to carry 7% more water vapour,” stated Bob Sandford. “Storms are now occurring that feature higher relative humidity than ever experienced before. This in combination with rising sea surface temperatures allows for extreme cloud bursts and storms with greater power that last longer and carry more punch.”

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Dealing with Climate Uncertainty and Managing Risk: “The disconnect in thought between retirement planning and water management is a conundrum,” observed Metro Vancouver’s Robert Hicks in 2005


Robert Hicks has thought hard about how to connect the dots between water resource planning, climate variability and risk management. “Retirement planning is something that most people understand and do intuitively,” asked Robert Hicks rhetorically. “So why is it that when it comes to community and/or resource planning, we are seemingly incapable of overcoming the gap between long-term and short-term thinking?”

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“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.

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Think and Act like a Watershed: Harness Nature to Adapt to a Changing Climate in British Columbia


Research at Simon Fraser University resulted in development of a framework for evaluating application of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA). “The research provides rainwater and adaptation planners with an overview of EbA from principles to practice. The evaluation framework can be used to assess and score the extent to which provincial, regional or municipal documents incorporate EbA principles,” stated Kim Stephens.

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