Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Queen Charlotte Islands vulnerable to climate change

Increased storms, shoreline erosion problems and transportation challenges could all be just a few of the difficulties that Islanders will face as the climate changes.

That’s just a few of the suggestions from report from Natural Resources Canada.

From Impacts to Adaptation, is one of the first studies to come along that investigates and assesses the impacts of climate change across the nation.

The Daily news featured some of the key findings in Monday’s paper.

Charlottes warned about warming
Islands will be hard hit by global warming say writers of new report
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, March 17, 2008
Page one

A new federal government report is predicting major impacts from climate change on the economies and communities of Graham Island.

The Northern Queen Charlotte Islands, with its sand dunes and bluffs, have officially been listed as one of the two areas that are most vulnerable to rising sea levels in the country.

Currently, there is no plan in place to deal with future impacts.

In a report on climate change released by Natural Resources Canada, it notes "the northeastern coast of Graham Island is ranked as among Canada's most sensitive coastlines to climate change" along with the Roberts Bank Fraser Delta region.

Called From Impacts to Adaptation, the study is one of the fist to assess the impacts of climate change province-by-province across the country. In B. C., the impacts of rising sea levels and increased erosion in coastal communities will vary greatly, notes the report, with those located on rocky coastline less impacted by erosion and major storm events.

According to the report, Graham Island could face serious challenges because of its remote location. This includes more unplanned transportation interruptions with increased storm events, significant erosion of the island including the loss of sections of Highway 16.

“During El Nino 1997-1998, sea levels rose 0.4 metres and caused 12 metres of local erosion along this shoreline…” notes the report.

In addition, any economic activity based on salmon and forestry could be seriously impacted by climate change.

Pacific salmon and western red cedar have shown abrupt changes in abundance and distribution in response to past relatively minor changes in climate.

“Economic dislocation and social stress in fisheries-dependent communities are likely to increase as climate change continues, with losses from traditional fisheries exceeding returns from efforts to develop new ones or to replace them with aquaculture operations.”

The report is prompting a call from environmental groups for government to finally step in and plan for the future.

“This report is yet another wake-up call for a government that has not yet produced a meaningful climate change plan or passed any legislation to protect Canadians from global warming,” said Graham Saul, Climate Action Network Canada. “Canada is paying the environmental and economic costs of climate change already, and unless the government acts immediately, the future impacts will be catastrophic,” he said.

Every independent analysis of the government’s April 2007 Turning the Corner report has concluded that its policy measures are too weak to reach its targets. Further, government MPs have spent he last two sessions of the House of Commons environment committee filibustering a private member’s bill that would set science-based climate targets for Canada.

“The government has said repeatedly that it respects the science of climate change,” said Emile Moorhouse, Sierra Club Canada. ”If that’s true, then this report leaves the government no choice but to change course and radically strengthen its discredited climate strategy to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.”

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