Climate change already taking big toll: experts
GLOBAL WARMING Infestations, forest fires, floods and drought scarring Canadian landscape. The long-term outlook for B. C.: tropical paradise
MONTREAL — While global warming promises a variety of plagues in most of Canada, British Columbians could be breaking out the grass skirts and safari shorts.
Insect infestations, forest fires, floods and drought reflect the devastating impact global warming is already having on the vast Canadian landscape, according to experts from all 10 provinces and two territories.
Probably the most striking changes are occurring in the north where melting ice and permafrost are destroying roads and buildings as well as harming animal and plant life.
“ We’re seeing more landslides, mudslides than ever before,” Robert Collins, energy resources analyst for the Yukon energy Mines and Resources Department, said.
Like o t h e r te r r i tories and provinces, the Yukon has a booth at the UN Conference on Climate Change that displays the impact of global warming on the local environment.
“ In 2004, we burned twice the average forests through forest fires and 10 times [ the area] that was burned the year earlier,” Collins said.
Similar problems are being felt across the far North
Kik Shappa, a carver and hunter living in Griese Fiord, the most northern settlement in the Canadian Arctic, said that because of the melting ice cap it has become dangerous for hunters.
“ The weather is really unpredictable and the ice freezes much later and breaks up earlier,” he said, adding that there are more incidents of hunters falling through the ice.
Manitoba is facing “ multiple impacts and they extend pretty much through the entire province,” said Manitoba MLA Rob Altemeyer.
In the future, he said, if the models are accurate, Manitoba stands to lose a lot of its boreal forest, which comprises one-third to one-quarter of the province.
In the south and middle of the province he said Manitoba has had huge extremes in weather.
“We have had both the driest conditions on record and the wettest conditions on record in the last six years,” he said. “We have had phenomenal drought and in this last year we have had phenomenal problems with flooding. We haven’t seen normal in quite a while on the Prairies.”
Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes are experiencing similar problems. Warmer weather, higher river and ocean levels are all effecting shorelines, farming and animal life.
If there is a bright side, maybe it’s in B. C. Its climate model shows that under present day trends, by 2080 the province could be a garden of pecans, olives, sugar cane, oranges, lemons and cotton.
It also shows, however, that many Albertans will be living in a desert; ditto for Saskatchewan.