Category:

Understanding Water Resources

ADDRESSING WATER CHALLENGES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Water Sustainability Plans are a powerful new legal tool with a lot of potential and flexibility to address local needs and priorities across the province,” says Deborah Curran, Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria


Understanding how Water Sustainability Plans can begin meeting the needs of communities and healthy functioning watersheds will be critical to building necessary watershed resilience and ensuring B.C.’s freshwater future, says Deborah Curran. “They haven’t yet been implemented anywhere in British Columbia, which creates an opportunity for us to really explore how they could be used to their fullest extent.” Effective and sustainable freshwater management is an urgent priority for communities if they are to achieve multiple desired outcomes.

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2019 REPORT ON PROTECTION OF DRINKING WATER: “We undertook this audit because of the considerable importance of safe drinking water and because the risks to drinking water are increasing,” stated Carol Bellringer, B.C.’s auditor general


In July 2019, Auditor General Carol Bellringer released a report entitled “The Protection of Drinking Water: An Independent Audit”. It found along with not notifying the public of potential risks, the Ministry of Health and the provincial health officer (PHO) are not sufficiently protecting drinking water for all British Columbians. The Auditor General’s report tells a classic story of how a government initiative, launched with the best of intentions, lost momentum over the years as the sense of urgency faded and other priorities took over.

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Planting 1 Billion Hectares of Forest Could Help Check Global Warming: “Action is urgent, and governments must now factor this into their national strategies to tackle climate change,” stated Dr. Jean-Francois Bastin, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (July 2019)


The Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich investigates nature-based solutions to climate change. In their latest study the researchers showed for the first time where in the world new trees could grow and how much carbon they would store. Dr. Jean-Francois Bastin, also suggests that there is further potential to regrow trees in croplands and urban areas, highlighting the scope for agroforestry and city trees to play a significant role in tackling climate change.

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CARING FOR TOMORROW: Why haven’t we stopped climate change? We’re not wired to empathize with our descendants, says Dr. Jamil Zaki, director of the Stanford University Social Neuroscience Laboratory


“Empathy evolved as one of humans’ vital survival skills. It is only through our foray into the modern world that we have lost touch with our evolutionary empathy. Deeply empathic people tend to be environmentally responsible, but our caring instincts are short-sighted and dissolve across space and time, making it harder for us to deal with things that haven’t happened yet. Touching the past can connect us to the future, especially when we look back fondly,” wrote Jamil Zaki.

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EARTH’S FRESHWATER FUTURE: “When you think about changing the distribution of precipitation, then you start to think that if you’re getting more heavy precipitation, that might mean more flooding,” said NASA’s Christa Peters-Lidard


“If we’re going to see more heavy rainfall events and we’re going to see them especially in areas that are not designed for those floods, that means that we need to think about how to adapt our infrastructure and rethink the way we’ve designed some of our bridges and drainage systems,” said Christa Peters-Lidard, Deputy Director for Hydrology, Biospheres, and Geophysics at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland. But while some areas are projected to get wetter, others will become much drier. Warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns can lead to droughts.

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ADAPTING TO A CHANGING CLIMATE: “Green infrastructure is an essential component of managing risks to people and property from extreme weather events,” stated Jan Cassin, Water Initiative Director, Forest Trends Foundation (July 2019)


“Globally, more sustainable land management through ‘natural climate solutions’ can deliver up to 37 percent of the mitigation needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree target. Looking beyond their boundaries to achieve climate commitments can therefore simultaneously help cities achieve greater water security and forge more positive connections with their neighbors in rural communities,” wrote Jan Cassin. “Cities and their utilities should embrace natural asset management. “

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LOOMING IMPACT OF HISTORIC EUROPE HEAT WAVE: “As a ‘blocking ridge’ sets up over Greenland, it could promote a widespread and significant melt event like the one in 2012. During that summer, nearly all of the ice sheet experienced melting,” stated Ruth Mottram, a researcher with the Danish Meteorological Institute


“Assuming this comes off (and it seems likely) we would expect a very large melt event over the ice sheet,” Mottram said. “This was a very similar situation to 2012 where melt reached all the way up to Summit station. The Arctic sea ice is already at record low for the time of year so clearly we may be looking at a situation where both Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheet have record losses even over and above 2012 — though we won’t know for sure until after the event.”

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COVERING CLIMATE NOW: “Can we tell the story so people get it,” stated Bill Moyers, legendary journalist and political commentator, at launch of major international media initiative


Each of the media outlets involved in the initiative have committed to a week of concentrated coverage beginning on September 16, 2019 in the lead up to Climate Action Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York. The summit is an attempt to spur world leaders to develop new plans to reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade and reach a target of zero net emissions by 2050. All that’s required is for each outlet to make a good-faith effort to increase the amount and the visibility of its climate coverage.

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Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment for British Columbia: “Only after wading into the executive summary did one realize it was one of the more alarming documents commissioned by this or any other B.C. government,” wrote Vaughan Palmer, Vancouver Sun columnist (July 2019)


“At first glance the report posted quietly on the provincial government website this week resembled a typical midsummer offering. Pretty pictures on the cover. The word ‘preliminary’ in the title. Not even the courtesy of a media release to flag its arrival. All seemingly calculated to be overlooked in the July political doldrums,” wrote Vaughan Palmer. “More than 400 pages, the report evaluates the risks to B.C. over the next 30 years of 15 specific climate-change-driven events, each weighed on a sliding scale of consequences from ‘low’ to ‘catastrophic’.”

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SHIFTING BASELINE SYNDROME: “With each new generation, the expectation of various ecological conditions shifts. The result is that standards are lowered almost imperceptibly,” stated Dr. Daniel Pauly, professor and project leader, Sea Around Us Project, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia


“We transform the world, but we don’t remember it. We adjust our baseline to the new level, and we don’t recall what was there. If you generalize this, something like this happens,” explains Daniel Pauly. An understanding of Daniel Pauly’s “Shifting Baseline Syndrome” is a foundation piece for implementing restorative development, reconnecting hydrology and ecology, and bending the curve to restore stream systems. The goal of shifting to an ecologically functioning and resilient baseline will ultimately depend on the nature of change to standards of practice.

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