Category:

Understanding Water Resources

LEARNING FROM THE BURNING: “We keep talking about adaptation in service of resilience; but more than that we need to adapt now for what is to come,” stated Bob Sandford, Canada’s Winston Churchill of Water


“The foundation of my work is science. It seems to me that the commandments of science can be reduced to two: tell the truth and stand up for all humanity and for the planet,” says Bob Sandford. “Good science is not just the sharing of knowledge about the world, it is a candle we light when we want to see and be warmed by the truth. There has probably never been a time in history when making what science is telling us understandable to a vastly diverse and often preoccupied public has been more important.”

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ROADS TRUMP RIVERS IN AUSTRALIA: “The question is: can we not reorient the infrastructure model to protection and restoration of waterways? We need to turn urban streams back into functioning ecosystems,” wrote Bruce Lindsay, Environmental Justice Australia


“Freeways and waterways are not incompatible. But the legal privilege and financing of infrastructure is a question of priorities and perspectives and, for the sake of healthy communities and places, we need to give far greater priority to the city’s green infrastructure. The model of infrastructure laws and funding for freeways can potentially provide a model for protection, repair and restoration of urban waterways,” says Bruce Lindsay. “If it is necessary to acquire land along waterways, drive innovation in building and engineering standards, and use public finance to enable a restoration economy, then we should do it.”

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FIRE WEATHER SEVERITY: ‘Abnormally dry’ conditions across Pacific Northwest could spell long wildfire season for British Columbia (May 2019)


“The signs of climate change are all around us. Earth mother’s lifeblood (i.e. water) is becoming sparse in the Pacific Northwest, and some Indigenous Elders say this is happening because humans are not showing respect to water,” said Michael Blackstock. “Water withdraws itself from the disrespectful. Water is transforming from ice, to sea and river water, and then to traversing atmospheric rivers. Water was sleeping as ice, but now it is moving rapidly and unpredictably around our planet. Some places are deluged, while others lay tongue-parched.”

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ADAPT TO A CHANGING CLIMATE: “If we help nature, then nature can help us – that’s the message of this report,” said Kristalina Georgieva – in a joint report, World Bank and World Resources Institute show how the next generation of infrastructure projects can tap natural systems and, where appropriate, integrate green and gray infrastructure


21st century challenges require innovative solutions. Integrating ‘green’ natural systems like forests, wetlands and flood plains into ‘gray’ infrastructure system shows how nature can lie at the heart of sustainable development. “Measures like replanting wetlands can shield cities from storms and flooding, and protecting forests improves watersheds. Infrastructure should make use of plants and nature to boost resilience and create a more livable environment,” stated Kristalina Georgieva.

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“Climate change is already leading to unprecedented flooding, but urban planners have many tools to help them keep things dry,” wrote Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, PhD, in an article published on the Scientific American Blog Network


“Rising water levels have already wrought havoc across the country. From 2000 to 2015, coastal ‘sunny day flooding’, or flooding caused by high tides rather than storms, more than doubled on the Southeast’s Atlantic coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. And it increased 75 percent on the Northeast’s coast,” said Ziqian Dong. “Climate change is also making storms more destructive and frequent by heating up ocean waters, increasing flooding. The United States experienced its most expensive hurricane season in history in 2017.”

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OUR CHANGING CLIMATE: British Columbia is in Year 5 of its ‘new reality’


“British Columbia’s climate is changing; and change is occurring at a rate much faster than anticipated. Looking back, 2015 marks the beginning of a ‘new normal’ which is defined by recurring extremes. Floods, drought, forest fires and windstorms – all are happening within the same year, and year after year,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. “Last week, a new scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada said Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and it’s ‘effectively irreversible’.”

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AN INSURANCE INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE ON DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY: “By focusing on adapting to climate change we can work together constructively to keep Canadians out of harm’s way,” wrote Craig Stewart in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post


Canadians are starting to get used to news stories about springtime flooding. Although flooding has and will always happen, the frequency and intensity of floods are becoming more prolific. “The IBC-sponsored report, Combating Canada’s Rising Floods Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option, provides a framework for making decisions about the return on investment of green infrastructure deployed as a climate-adaptation measure,” wrote Craig Stewart.

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“Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, on the current crisis of climate change. A new culture of water is needed in order for humans to adapt,” wrote Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science


“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing. Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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LIFE AFTER CARBON: “Part of urban renaturing is a restorative exercise, a way to reinstate balance and sustainability to the city’s relationship with nature,” wrote John Cleveland, in a book about cities that are reinventing themselves to combat climate change (published in 2018)


“A number of cities have launched efforts to protect and restore the ecosystems and biodiversity of their urban regions. They want to ensure and enhance the delivery of essential services provided by nature outside, as well as inside, their boundaries,” wrote John Cleveland. “The growing urban attention to ecosystems extends to maintaining and increasing an urban region’s biodiversity, which is key to maintaining ecosystem health. Cities generally use a combination of regulation and investments to manage ecosystems.”

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EARTH FACES WIDESPREAD DROUGHT: “While, as expected, rainfall is increasing with global warming — drier soil means water is being absorbed and made useless, rather than replenishing the earth’s vital river systems,” says Professor Ashish Sharma of the University of New South Wales


A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry. “While the more extreme, life threatening floods and storms are increasing, the more moderate floods which fill dams and reservoirs, and are the basis for our water supply, are reducing with the rise in global temperatures,” stated Ashish Sharma.

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