On May 10th, the BC NDP government released The BC Flood and Wildfire Report on the wildfires and floods of 2017. The Report concluded:
Disasters such as last summer’s wildfires, floods, lightning storms and landslides are “the new normal” consequences of climate change and British Columbia is ill-equipped to protect the public, according to an external review in response to last year’s floods and the wildfires that tore through the province.
The report dropped the same day that thousands of people were ordered to evacuate from South Central B.C. due to flooding.
Former cabinet minister George Abbott, who co-authored the report containing 108 recommendations on how to prepare for future devastation, said the province would need to allow the public to join the fight in future disasters....
The effects of the fires can still be seen — and felt — this year as residents are forced to evacuate due to flooding that’s been exacerbated by water-absorbing plants being wiped from the landscape. Already, thousands of people have been forced from their homes to escape rising waters and the flood risk has increased through April as more snow fell at higher elevations. ...
Warming temperatures and more extreme weather are predicted to increase the number of major wildfire-starting lightning storms — at the same time the changing climate causes more landslides, more wildfires and greater ice melt flowing over drier land that’s more susceptible to flooding. The fires torch water-absorbing plants from the landscape, worsening floods.
While no single forest fire can be 100% directly attributed to climate change, the pattern seen in the 2003 Barriere wildfire that burnt the entire community down; the Slave Lake, Alberta, fire that burnt one third of the town down in 2011; Saskatchewan wildfires that created 13,000 evacuees in 2015; the 2009, 2011 and 2017 Kelowna wildfires that threatened the homes of thousands; and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire that caused the evacuation of 88,000 people and destroyed thousands of homes, leaves no doubt about how global warming is increasing the length of the fire season, the number and intensity of forest fires, as well as their social and economic costs to communities.
Flooding has also become much more common as torrential downpours, as predicted by global warming models, and warmer spring temperatures lead to faster snow melts and flooding. This year there has been major flooding in central BC, the Chatam-Kent region of Ontario, and in New Brunswick and more is expected as the spring melt continues. Last year Ontario, Quebec faced major flooding. In 2015, 100 mm of rain in one day led to major flooding led extensive flooding in southwestern Alberta.
In 2017, wildfires in BC burnt an area larger than PEI and caused the evacuation of 65,000 people. This year thousands have had to be evacuated in BC due to flooding, and thousands more in New Brunswick have suffered the same fate, with many homes in both provinces destroyed.
Yet we continue down the fossil fuel road having already blown past our 2011 carbon dioxide emission targets, having had to admit we cannot possibly meet our 2020 targets, and most experts agreeing their is little chance we will meet our 2030 targets under both Conservative and Liberal governments. When NDP candidate Linda McQuaig said some of our oilsands, the second largest oil reserves in the world, may have to be left in the ground to prevent global warming, she was criticized extensively, including by some members of her own party.
While I have focused on fires and flooding in this post, there are many problems associated with global warming. I submit that the entire country, not just BC, is ill-prepared to deal with the problems associated with climate change. At least BC has begun to look at mitigating some of these problems. It's not enough but it's a start.