Category:

Understanding Water Resources

SINKING LAND AND RISING SEAS: Architects and planners from the Netherlands are advising coastal cities worldwide on how to live with water


‘For the Dutch, consulting with cities about their response to relative sea-level rise has become a growth industry. They’re the Silicon Valley of water management, a laboratory testing strategies that have evolved over the centuries. No wonder. Water has been both a daily threat and a national identity for a country about the size of Maryland. More than half the nation’s 17 million people live on land below sea level,” wrote Jim Morrison. “Rising seas threaten 10 percent of the world’s urban population so there’s never-ending demand.”

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AMAZON FIRES ARE CAUSING GLACIERS TO MELT EVEN FASTER: “Currently, the climate models used to predict the future melting of glaciers in the Andes do not incorporate black carbon; this is likely causing the rate of glacial melt to be underestimated in many current assessments,” wrote Matthew Harris, PhD Researcher, Keele University Ice Lab


“Despite being invisible to the naked eye, black carbon particles affect the ability of the snow to reflect incoming sunlight, a phenomenon known as “albedo”. Similar to how a dark-coloured car will heat up more quickly in direct sunlight when compared with a light-coloured one, glaciers covered by black carbon particles will absorb more heat, and thus melt faster,” stated Matthew Harris. “With communities reliant on glaciers for water, work examining complex forces like black carbon is needed more now than ever before.”

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A WATERSHED SECURITY FUND FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA: Position Paper on Building Resilience and Advancing Reconciliation (released November 2019)


“First Nations communities often lack the necessary financial resources to meet the demands placed upon them from Crown governments and industry, and to proactively develop and implement their own water protection plans, policies, and laws. A Watershed Security Fund would provide lasting financial support to First Nations and community partners to build and strengthen their capacity to undertake watershed stewardship, planning and governance activities for the benefit of all British Columbians,” stated Susi Porter-Bopp.

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INTERWEAVE INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE & WESTERN SCIENCE: “Indigenous knowledge is an essential asset for communities to adapt to climate change, by knowing the land, using the local natural resources, sharing capital, and taking a community approach to local issues,” stated Dr. Mylène Ratelle, University of Waterloo


“Indigenous groups in northern Canada, with their traditional interpersonal networks and social initiatives, seem to have developed a unique structure to cope with climate change and environmental stressors without relying on federal or local policies and infrastructure. Based on this, it seems that one way to enhance peoples’ resilience to climate change is to improve the social capital — or social networks — of populations,” stated Mylène Ratelle.

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WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM SEA LEVELS 125,000 YEARS IN THE PAST: “Our research reveals that ice melt in the last interglacial period caused global seas to rise about 10 metres above the present level. The ice melted first in Antarctica, then a few thousand years later in Greenland,” stated Dr. Fiona Hibbert, Australian National University


“What is striking about the last interglacial record is how high and quickly sea level rose above present levels. Temperatures during the last interglacial were similar to those projected for the near future, which means melting polar ice sheets will likely affect future sea levels far more dramatically than anticipated to date,” stated Fiona Hibbert. “This means that if climate change continues unabated, Earth’s past dramatic sea level rise could be a small taste of what’s to come.”

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EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA IS ABLAZE: “Whatever the successes and failures in this crisis, it is likely that we will have to rethink the way we plan and prepare for wildfires in a hotter, drier and more flammable world,” conclude Ross Bradstock and Rachael Helene Nolan (November 2019)


Large fires have happened before. But this latest extraordinary situation raises many questions. It is as if many of the major fires in the past are now being rerun concurrently. What is unprecedented is the size and number of fires rather than the seasonal timing. Typically wet parts of the landscape have literally evaporated, allowing fire to spread unimpeded. It is no coincidence current fires correspond directly with hotspots of record low rainfall and above-average temperatures.

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THREE WAYS CANADA’S CITIES CAN PREPARE FOR CLIMATE EMERGENCIES: “Resilience is rapidly becoming a buzzword that’s at risk of losing its meaning,” wrote Dr. Darby McGrath and her Brock University co-authors


“We define resilience thinking as an approach that recognizes the complex interactions between society and our ecosystems, embraces the idea of change and acknowledges uncertainty. Resilience thinking requires acknowledgement from municipal governments that climate-related changes may be unanticipated and sometimes catastrophic. With resilience thinking, however, we can move forward with solutions that allow municipalities to continue to flourish despite changes we anticipate and those that surprise us.’

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HOW SCIENTISTS GOT CLIMATE CHANGE SO WRONG: “Few thought it would arrive so quickly. Now we’re facing consequences once viewed as fringe scenarios,” wrote Eugene Linden in an opinion piece in the New York Times (November 2017)


“The word ‘upended’ does not do justice to the revolution in climate science wrought by the discovery of sudden climate change. The realization that the global climate can swing between warm and cold periods in a matter of decades or even less came as a profound shock to scientists who thought those shifts took hundreds if not thousands of years,” wrote Eugene Linden. “Even if scientists end up having lowballed their latest assessments….climate change is already here. And it is going to get worse. A lot worse.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: The Water Sustainability Act allows for the development of Water Sustainability Plans to integrate water and land use planning to address the potential impacts of land use decisions and actions on water


“The scale and scope of each Water Sustainability Plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected. Planning will be an effective tool where the need is great, and where other area-based management tools are not able to address the links between land use and watershed impacts,” explained the Ministry of Environment’s Jennifer Vigano. Water Sustainability Plans can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes.

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NEW REPORT > ‘Tapped Out’ Sounds Alarm about British Columbia’s Looming Water Crisis


“Many people believe that B.C. has limitless water supplies. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. All over the province, communities are already experiencing water shortages, and low water levels in many rivers threaten the survival of salmon. I began this project about a year ago, and my mission was to find a way to demonstrate how B.C. does not have the abundant water that many people think it does. Unfortunately, BC has very poor information about how much water we have and how much we use,” stated Tanis Gower.

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