As I sit down to write this, it is with the heaviness of the news that a family friend has been found deceased. This leaves those closest to you wondering what more they could have done to reach out.
Oliver Rujanschi, we will miss you and the warmth you were. Sorry friend!
And we are all moved by the tragic depth of the discovery of so many innocent children buried at Kamloops Residential School.
A few years ago, many of us interested in the impacts of climate change got together with the Government of British Columbia’s Climate Action Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, to define a strategy for cope with the expected impacts.
The temperature projections for 30 years (2050) were 2.1 to 4.1 degrees Celsius in annual mean temperatures. This comes with an additional 35-64 frost-free days.
On the precipitation front, one would expect an increase of 5.1% per year and a decrease of 27% falling as snow. In all likelihood, summers will be drier.
Extremes can involve and increase the frequency and magnitude of extreme precipitation events. The average number of days above 30C will increase each year.
With this information in hand, producers and stakeholders identified the top five climate issues.
First, there has been the increased risk of forest fires. The region then experienced significant forest fire seasons in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Subsequently, 2017 and 2018 saw record fires, burning 1.1 million hectares (over two million acres ).
Second, changing hydrology affects us in the following ways: Hotter, drier summers have reduced water supplies while increasing water requirements for crops and livestock. The summers of 2019 and 2020 saw a number of farms and ranches hit hard by the flooding.
Third, increased variability was of great concern to growers, in particular: unpredictable storms, temperature / precipitation fluctuations and extremes, and freeze-thaw cycles.
Fourth, changes in pests, diseases and invasive species are upon us. Although we know the impacts of the mountain pine beetle, we do know that fire ants, cutworms and gray moth are increasingly important. This is in part due to the warmer winters.
Fifth, there will be changes in wildlife and ecological systems: the ecological communities and water resources of the Cariboo rangelands change, which alters forage productivity.
On all these fronts, producers and the government have made progress on projects.
There is much more to report and I direct interested readers to Climate Action Agriculture at www.climateagriculturebc.ca/regional-adaptation/cariboo/.
Many projects are showcased there.
Producer leaders have worked hard with governments to oversee studies and trials designed to benefit food production in our home region.
When we have the certainty of a tragedy to come, or even mere suspicion, we owe it to our fellow human beings to act. The same is true of the past and future human, personal and societal tragedies to which I alluded in my opening lines.
Soil is the skin of the Earth organism. Human health and the health of the Earth are one.
David Zirnhelt is a breeder and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chairman of the advisory committee for the sustainable breeding program applied to TRU.
Quesnel Cariboo Observer