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COLUMN: Preparing for climate heating and its effects

City councillor Jesse Woodward writes about what we can do locally
Nelson city councillor Jesse Woodward says there are changes residents can make to their lifestyles to help fight climate change. File photo

Jesse Woodward

I just want to state, right off the bat, I wish things were different. I want climate disruption and all of its numerous effects to be a passing phase that is not a distinct threat to us all. But, if you believe in science, this is not the case and we must now all get ready and prepared for the changes that are already here and with more to come.

Two United Nations reports — the 2018 UN IPCC Special Report on Global Warming and the 2019 UN IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity — make it very clear that massive and far reaching climate shifts are taking place right now and will continue to do so over the coming decades.

One major solution to this threat is a massive global reduction in green house gases (GHG). The general consensus of current mainstream climate science says we must reduce about 50 per cent of global produced GHG’s in 10 years or less. If we do not take this action things will get much worse for us as the planet heats up and extreme weather condition and sea level raise become the norm. Basically, we don’t want to go down that path.

In our local Kootenay region global climate heating will bring more of the same kinds of increasing effects that we have already been experiencing over the last four or five years: intensifying wildfires season, smoke impacts, drought conditions, forest degradation, soil slippage, flood risks, low snow pack and extreme weather.

I have attended four separate regional climate change workshops over the last six months and each concluded that these conditions will change our regions landscape over the coming decades into a much more dryer and hotter area with far fewer trees, more grasslands, less wildlife populations and receding glaciers.

The City of Nelson has responded to this problem over the last 10 years by taking on a number of climate change initiatives. These can be explored in detail by going to the City of Nelson website and searching under the term “sustainability.” Nelson has also just hired a climate change co-ordinator to help in moving the city in the most sustainable direction as quickly as possible.

So what can we do as a community here in the Kootenay region to help in mitigating and adapting to the changes that are already here and with more to come in the near future?

Try first to reduce your own personal production of GHG’s by cutting way back on driving and flying, consume with care and prudence, eat a less carbon intensive diet, retrofit your home, learn to grow some of your own food and talk to others about doing the same.

You should also get yourself fully prepared and ready to go in case of a wildfire evacuation, FireSmart your home, reduce your waste stream and water consumption and help your local community to do the same. The more resilient, educated and prepared we are as individuals, family’s and community the stronger and more resilient we will all be as a entire region. Each person that is prepared and knows what they are going to do in an emergency situation is one less person that the emergency services will have to manage when there is a full-blown crisis.

I hope I have overstated the threats and that things won’t be so extreme in the near future. But, according to mainstream climate science, it would be very wise for us all to get educated, get prepared, take action, understand what is at stake and how we can help each other move towards a low-impact, net-zero carbon future.

Jesse Woodward is a Nelson city councillor