Climate Change Threats

A breaching humpback whale with only their tail in the water. There is a blue sky and evergreen covered mountain in the distance.
Humpback Whale | Photo by Janie Wray

Global climate change is now widely recognized as the singular greatest threat to the world’s ecosystems, cultures, and economies. Increasing anthropogenic emissions over the past century have changed oceanic conditions, impacted marine ecosystems, and negatively affected the ecosystem services and resources that they provide to human society. The effects of climate change are already being felt within Canada’s economy and communities, with impacts ranging from decreasing air quality, increasing extreme weather events such as flooding, degrading infrastructure from increased weathering, increasing water stress, declining fisheries and agricultural productivity, and a host of associated health effects. The impacts of extreme weather events and increasing temperatures are growing, especially in recent years and for coastal regions. Severe storms, coastal flooding, rising ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification are among the changes that have already been observed, with numerous resulting impacts to coastal social-ecological systems.

So far, international efforts to mitigate climate change by meeting emissions reductions targets have not been successful, and it seems certain that global temperatures will continue to rise. The next few decades will bring increasing impacts and challenges, as global air temperatures are anticipated to increase by 2-5⁰ C by 2100 [1]. 

All economic sectors and communities in Canada will be affected by the impacts of climate change. Coastal regions and remote communities are particularly vulnerable to changes because of their dependence upon marine resources, a high level of exposure to many climate effects, and sometimes low adaptive capacity. However, regional, First Nations, and community governments can be adaptive and are place-based, and therefore are especially well situated to make proactive decisions to manage the risks and associated impacts from climate change. 

This scoping report is aimed at guiding the next steps for research and implementation of climate change adaptation strategies for the MaPP region (Figure 1) of coastal British Columbia, Canada. 

A subsequent report also authored in 2018 by Conger and Whitney reviews existing frameworks and tools for carrying out vulnerability and risk assessments. It includes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to applying existing vulnerability and risk assessment frameworks and tools to the MaPP region.  

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