Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Looking for solutions to climate change

As we trade in the umbrellas for the snow boots on the North coast and further east the down filled parkas come out, it’s probably the right time to discuss climate change.

The University of Northern British Columbia will become part of a search for solutions to the climate problems of the future.

The Daily News featured details of the recently created 94.5 million dollar Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, a body that UNBC will be a major part of.

The background on the issue and plans to study it were found on the front page of Tuesday’s paper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pages one and two

The University of Northern British Columbia will be taking on a leading role to help mitigate the impacts of climate change in the hardest hit region of the province, the North.

Last week, the government of B.C. announced it will be creating a $94.5 million Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, involving B.C.'s four research-intensive universities.

"It is in northern regions where the greatest effects of climate change are being felt," said UNBC President Don Cozzetto.

Current data suggests the temperature increase in northern and central B.C. is about two to three times greater than that experienced in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island over the past 100 years.

“This makes UNBC’s involvement in this new institute a natural extension of our mission to focus on the issues of the North. We are already a centre for unique academic programming and research on climate change and other environmental issues that affect the sustainability of communities. This is what makes us Canada’s Green University.”

The institute will be a unique joint collaboration between the province’s four research-intensive universities – the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and University of Northern British Columbia – the private sector and government.
It will bring provincial, national and international climate researchers together to work with governments and the private sector to develop ideas that can be applied and transferred to government, industry and the public.

“We’re eager to make a difference and government is providing us with the tools to do so,” said Cozzetto.

“The four research-intensive universities in B. C. can be world leaders in reducing emissions, providing new information through research, and educating future environmental stewards.”
UNBC is already heavily involved in researching the impacts of climate change. UNBC’s Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute has 63 members, many of whom are involved with climate change research and teaching.

Some of their areas of focus that relate to Prince Rupert include the work of Dr. Ken Wilkening, who studies intercontinental transport of air pollution, also referred to as hemispheric transport of air pollution, or simply, global air pollution.

His interest in the topic started in the late 1990’s when he worked for a small environmental organization in San Francisco. Fresh from researching regional-scale air pollution in Asia, he spotted growing scientific evidence that air pollutants originating in Asia were traveling across the Pacific Ocean and being detected in North America.

“ICT is, except in rare instances, a low-level, long-term, widespread and subtle problem, and that’s the real challenge,” said Dr. Wilkening. “It’s not a ‘hit you between the eyes’ kind of phenomenon. It’s like global warming that way, and it has taken decades for the public and policy-makers to catch up to the scientists who first began calling attention to the climate change issue. The rapid industrialization of China and India will continue to make ICT a hot topic. Right now, the global environment isn’t on the verge of collapse due to ICT, but it’s one small, added strain to our social and ecological system that could lead to a global environmental tipping point.

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