Climate Crisis: Impacts on our Region
Human-caused climate change is already having an impact here in the Strait of Georgia and its watersheds. In the last few years we have experienced:
- higher average air and water temperatures, including record high temperatures in the Fraser River, contributing to a significant decline in salmon survival
- changing patterns of precipitation
- extreme or unusual weather events, such as the high winds that caused major losses of trees in Stanley Park and on southern Vancouver Island
- significant decline in average snowpack, which means less water in the rivers and streams that returning salmon depend on
One of the most serious impacts of the climate crisis for coastal regions like ours is sea level rise, caused by thermal expansion of ocean waters and melting of glaciers and ice fields.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea level rise will bring:
- shoreline erosion
- seawater intrusion into groundwater
- loss of up to one quarter of the world's wetlands in this century
Recent studies suggest that sea level rise will occur even more rapidly than the IPCC has predicted, and that a feasible range by 2100 might be 0.51 to 1.4 metres, or 20 to 56 inches. (Rahmstorf, 2007)
The impacts of sea level rise on our region may be dramatic.
But the most worrying change being brought by global warming is something that scientists worldwide became aware of only recently: ocean acidification.
There is mounting evidence that acidification is already threatening marine life around the world. The impacts of ocean acidification on our region could be profound - for marine species, our economy and our way of life here on the coast.
Is the situation serious? Absolutely.
Is it too late? No. But if we are to minimize the impacts of the climate crisis, we must act now.