Sunday, August 19, 2018

Petro-State Purgatory for Canada

Worsening wildfires for British Columbia, perma-drought for the Prairies. How's that sound? 

A remarkably candid report from the Calgary Herald explores the future that awaits western Canada. Hint, it's not at all good.

Heat and drought. A longer fire season with more frequent wildfires and larger areas burned. That’s what’s in store for Canada, especially the prairie provinces, in the coming years, experts say, a situation that is being directly attributed to climate change. 
...“My colleagues and I attribute that to human-caused climate change. I can’t be any clearer than that,” said Mike Flannigan, professor with the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta. 
“We’re seeing more fire because our climate is changing, in particular because it is getting warmer.”

And along with the warmer the temperature comes an extended fire season. 
“In Alberta, our fire season used to start April 1. It now officially starts March 1 and not this spring, but in the spring and winter of 2015/2016, we had actionable fires in February,” said Flannigan.
“The warmer it gets the more lightning we see and, everything else being equal, more lightning equals more fire.”

...Flannigan said the reality is fire is a part of our future and a term people often use is this is our “new normal,” but he doesn’t like the use of it. 
“It sounds like it’s a plateau. But actually, we’re on a trajectory, perhaps a downward spiral. Things could get a lot worse,” said Flannigan.
A research scientist with National Resources Canada, Marc-Andre Parisien, claims that Alberta might more rain but not enough to offset extra drought caused by more heating.

“In the more pessimistic (climate scenario) cases, some people are saying an increase of four to six (degrees),” said Parisien. 
“I’ve even been seeing up to eight degrees celsius, on average per year, in the next 80 to 100 years or so. That is huge.” 
Although it is projected that Alberta will also see more rain, Parisien said the moisture may or may not be able to keep up with the increased temperature. He said that’s looking like this is the case right now. 
“There’s this rule of thumb that with every degree in increased temperature, you need about 15 per cent relative humidity increase to keep up,” said Parisien. 
“Any kind of increase in moisture, if there even is one, is really not keeping up with the increase in temperature, which leads to tree mortality and vegetation change.” 
Those conditions create the perfect recipe for more wildfires in our future, he said. 
“To put a value on it, it’s difficult. A lot of people have talked about it doubling or tripling,” said Parisien.
Another issue that's emerging is the impact of wildfire smoke on the respiratory systems of those in affected areas.
The long-term effects of breathing in smoke from wildfires is still unknown and Chris Carlsten, a respirologist at the University of British Columbia, said while the short-term effects are concerning, it is important to consider the upward trend of wildfire frequency.
“These have been such temporary events that we have thought of the adverse effects as short-term, but as they get longer, we start to blur the lines between acute and chronic,” said Carlsten.

“If these (wildfire) seasons become July, August, September, then you’re taking about 25 per cent of the year, and who knows — I don’t want to be alarmist. The trend is not good,” said Carlsten.
If the air quality worsens, Carlsten said a potential scenario is normally healthy people developing a chronic illness where there wasn’t one before. 
“If you’re getting repeated hits (of smoky air) and it’s three months then, theoretically, gradually, people will be more likely to develop more (chronic health issues) that won’t go away because the longer we are exposed, and the less clean (air) time, the harder is it is to repair these inflammatory insults.”


John's Aghast said...

“In the more pessimistic (climate scenario) cases, some people are saying an increase of four to six (degrees),” said Parisien.

“I’ve even been seeing up to eight degrees celsius, on average per year, in the next 80 to 100 years or so. That is huge.”

Holy Cow! That's 640 to 800 degrees! We'll have to some super adjusting to cope with that!

The Mound of Sound said...

No, John, he's saying eight degrees Celsius in total over the next 80 to 100 years. It's hard to imagine that we would have a viable civilization/society by the time we got anywhere near eight degrees.

Anonymous said...

I actually think Parisine is being kind in saying between 80 to 100 years. It is going to happen at a much more rapid rate says...DW regarding an interview with a spokesman from Saudi Arabia at the rate at which they are developing alternative energy and also spending millions on Desalination of sea water. They emit more pollution than any other country in the world.

The Mound of Sound said...

The one consistent trait of climate scientists is underestimating rate and degree of impact onsets.

Troy said...

Stronger fire seasons, stranger winter seasons, longer rainy seasons. Each in turn will wear its effects onto us with more and more ferocity.

The fire season leads into the winter, which may be shorter but with heavier snowfall, leading to (longer) Springs filled with flooding and mudslides due to so much forest, tree and underbrush, being destroyed by fire the previous Summer.

There will be severe animal die off this Winter... There's probably been an under-reported amount of animal die off this fire season, too. Animal die off leads to environmental changes too. Trying to discern what those changes will be is like trying to see through the smoke to the other side of the valley where I live.

It'll be some time for a new balance to be found. It'll swing far in one direction, and then veer off wildly in another.

Human response to these severe stressers will be important. Increase social welfare, and response time (through improved structural changes to government) to match the changes, and we might make it through all this, but keep electing mean and cruel idiots such as Trump and Ford, and we'll be caught flat-footed when the next major (or even moderate) disaster hits our own neighbourhoods.

pakescorts646 said...
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Northern PoV said...

Very smoky in Vancouver today. cough cough (New emoi needed?)

Not as smoky as SE Asia during the annual spring burnoff, when the farmers light fires that overcome the every-day fossil fuel pollution and casual ubiquitous garbage burning.

But we are getting our very own ABC! If only (we hope) for a short time.
(The Atmospheric Brown Clouds are semi-permanent in Asia.)