Trevor Hancock: Mother Nature has shown us that ‘business as usual’ is a disaster


Here in B.C., we’ve skilled the warmth dome, disastrous forest fires and now horrendous floods. What drives all these occasions is local weather change, to which B.C. is a important contributor.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary ­General, has informed us “humanity is waging war on nature.”

The drawback is that wars have winners and losers. But as the occasions this 12 months have certainly shown us, Mother Nature is extra highly effective than us, and bats final. We are going to lose this conflict, which is why Guterres added: “This is suicidal.”

We want to surrender the idea that ­humanity is extra highly effective than nature, that we will handle and management and defeat nature. Instead, we have to perceive that we’ve to work with and make peace with nature, as Guterres urges us to do. Because Mother Nature has been ­exhibiting us that “business as usual” is a recipe for­ ­disaster, one for which we appear virtually completely unprepared.

We have change into the victims of a ­self-imposed “perfect storm,” which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as “a critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors.”

Here in B.C., we’ve skilled the warmth dome, disastrous forest fires and now horrendous floods. What drives all these occasions is local weather change, to which B.C. is a important contributor, mixed with poor planning and unhealthy practices that create ­weak circumstances.

What we’ve heard described as ­“atmospheric rivers” are higher described as vapour storms. In an article within the ­November version of Scientific American, Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist on the Woodwell Climate Research Centre, notes that world warming results in larger ranges of water vapour within the air. This fuels “‘vapour storms’ that are unleashing more rain and snow than storms did only a few decades ago.”

Then we’ve elevated our vulnerability to fireplace and flood and storm over the a long time of “business as usual” practices, and compounded that by a failure to adequately bear in mind the altering local weather.

We drained Sumas Lake for farming, then failed to guard and improve the dikes that ought to defend it. We constructed on floodplains: An complete suburb of Vancouver is referred to as Delta — certainly that ought to inform us one thing — whereas a Nov. 28 article within the Times Colonist famous that 85 per cent of the group of Pitt Meadows is constructed on floodplain.

We have clearcut forests as if there have been no tomorrow, despite the fact that ­“clearcutting increases the frequency and intensity of forest fires” and likewise will increase the danger of flooding at peak durations and the chance of landslides, in accordance with a report ­ready this 12 months for the Sierra Club by Dr. Peter Wood, a forester with over 20 years’ ­expertise within the space of forests and local weather change in Canada and internationally.

We constructed the Coquihalla Highway very quickly, in simply 18 months so it will be prepared for Expo 86, however are we now paying the penalty for a rushed job? Have we failed to enhance and defend the freeway in gentle of predicted local weather adjustments?

None of the occasions of 2021 ought to have come as a shock, though they clearly have. Previous warmth occasions ought to have warned us of the potential well being results, but 595 individuals died within the warmth dome and Lytton burned to the bottom.

A 2015 report commissioned by the B.C. authorities discovered that the dike that ­protected the Sumas Prairie was ­“substandard,” “too low” and “need[ed] to be updated” and extra usually that “none of the 74 dikes examined in the Lower ­Mainland fully met the province’s ­standards,” CBC News reported final week.

On high of that, a report by Ebbwater ­Consultants earlier this 12 months warned that “the current model for flood risk ­governance in B.C. is broken,” and but governments have been taken without warning.

As environmental journalist Andrew Nikiforuk stated on CBC’s The Fifth Estate on Nov. 26: “For governments, experience has become making the same mistake over and over again, but with greater confidence.”

What Mother Nature is telling us, pretty clearly, is that we will’t go on with enterprise as normal. We have created local weather change, and now we’re starting to see its ­implications.

We have to vary, we’ve to take all attainable measures to gradual after which halt human-induced local weather change, and we’ve to be taught to dwell with and adapt to the adjustments that are inevitably coming. We can’t carry on this fashion.

Dr. Trevor Hancock is a retired ­professor and senior scholar on the University of ­Victoria’s School of Public Health and Social Policy.