Our neighbors to the North, Canada, have had a similar debate over climate change to the one we have here in the United States.
There remain politically, if not scientifically, many skeptics that humans are the cause of the climatic changes that obviously are happening. But there is an added angle. Warming in large portions of the Great White North is actually welcomed.
The growing season is expected to continue to lengthen, a phenomena we in Idaho also are experiencing. Winters may not be as harsh. The concept of adaptation to climate change, a subject that gets far too little discussion in the polarized debate over how we reverse it, is not as daunting as it would be in someplace like Bangladesh, which could see huge portions of its overpopulated landscape inundated by the Indian Ocean.
The major basis for Canada’s current discussion is the report: From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007. The report was released quietly in Canada earlier this month.
Its conclusion for British Columbia, the province that borders Idaho, is, as expected, similar to the scientific predictions of U.S. reports like those out of the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group 2007.
Many regions and sectors of British Columbia will experience increasing water shortages.
Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather and related natural hazards will impact British Columbia’s critical infrastructure.
British Columbia’s forests, forest industry and forestry-dependent communities are vulnerable to increasing climate-related risks, including pest infestations and forest fires.
Vulnerability of Pacific salmon fisheries in both freshwater and saltwater environments is heightened.
The Canadian scientists recommend among other strategies increasing water storage where possible, the strategy the Idaho Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter have recommended. Like Idaho, British Columbia can expect warmer winters and earlier runoff, which it currently can’t catch in reservoirs.
Ultimately the report offers good advice for leaders on both sides of the border:
“Integrating climate change adaptation into decision-making is an opportunity to enhance resilience and reduce the long-term costs and impacts of climate change,” the scientists concluded.