As one of the greatest threats faced by modern societies, climate change represents a major barrier to achieving the City of Maple Ridge’s mission of creating a safe, livable, and sustainable community.
It is a common belief that climate change is a ‘problem for the future’, or that it is ‘something other people will have to deal with’. These ideals are not helped by the fact that many reports discussing climate impacts focus on what will happen 30 or 60 years down the road. Reality is that climate change is happening now, and it is influenced by the decisions we make every day. Droughts, forest fires, and extreme weather events are all challenges we must face in the present, and without action, they will be much more severe in the coming decades.
You may have heard that greenhouse gases (GHG’s) are the main reason that the Earth’s climate is warming, but this is only part of the story. In reality, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapour, are an extremely important part of the Earth’s atmosphere, and they are essential for the planet’s ability to support life.
Projected Climate Impacts
While the effects of climate change are global, and will influence many different systems all over the planet, local impacts will vary between regions depending on a variety of factors. In 2016, Metro Vancouver collaborated with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) and Pinna Sustainability to develop a report describing future climate projections for the region. This report is the accumulation of extensive scientific research and 12 different climate models. It represents our best understanding of what the region’s climate will likely look like between now and the year 2100. Projected impacts include:
- Warmer temperatures
- Increased summer dry spells
- Increased precipitation (between October and April)
- A decrease in alpine snowpack
- More extreme weather events
Though this 2016 report did not specifically address the topic of sea level rise, a previous report predicts that the region will observe a rise of about one meter as a result of oceanic thermal expansion and the melting of glacial ice reservoirs.
You can learn more about how climate change will affect the City of Maple Ridge, or you can listen to this podcast from the CBC’s meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe, describing what Vancouver’s climate may look like in the year 2050.
Another important impact of climate change is the influence it has on our local air quality. Many of the processes that contribute to climate change also impact air quality, often to the detriment of our natural environment and our personal health and wellbeing.
Because climate change presents such a threat to our communities, governments at multiple levels have introduced policies and legislation to address how we will move forward to prevent significant change.
How Can You Help?
The most important thing that any individual can do to address the threat of climate change is to educate themselves and understand the topic. By comprehending how an excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to climate change, and understanding the intricate connections between our lives and greenhouse gas emissions, we are able to make simple, effective decisions that have a lasting impact on our environment and our city. Some examples of such decisions include:
- Turn the lights off when leaving a room
- Conserve water inside your house and out
- Renovate your home to improve its energy performance
- Reduce your transportation footprint by purchasing an electric vehicle or utilizing active transportation
- Eat less meat
- Reduce waste by recycling and composting
Educating yourself about the impacts of climate change and how they might affect you is also important. Like earthquakes, the risk of floods, droughts, and heatwaves can be mitigated by planning ahead and preparing for a disaster.
Finally, believe in yourself. Don’t convince yourself that climate change is too big of a problem for you to handle on your own. You are not alone. Millions of people all over the world are committed to helping address this issue. If everybody takes simple steps to limit their energy use and reduce their carbon footprint, than this seemingly impossible problem will become much more manageable. A collective effort is required, but it is important for people like you to realize that you have the power, and the ability, to make the world a better place.
Earth Hour is one of the largest global climate change movements in human history. 2017 marked the tenth anniversary of the movement, and it was fittingly the most successful so far; with 178 countries and territories participating and more than 1 200 000 individual actions taken to help ‘change climate change’. Earth Hour is much, much more than a symbolic action of switching off lights for an hour - it's a continuous movement driving actions, big and small, that are changing the world we live in.
Check out the Earth Hour website to find out when next year’s hour will be. You can also learn about how the movement is striving to make the world better, and about how you can get involved by planning your own event. Earth hour represents a great opportunity to learn about environmental issues, and to make simple lifestyle decisions that will eventually lead to a happier, healthier planet.
Climate Change Resources
- Suggestions to reduce your carbon footprint
- Climate projections report for Metro Vancouver
- Climate change programs from Metro Vancouver
- BC government website on climate change
- Canada’s action on climate change
- NRCAN website on climate change
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) website
- Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions website