B.C. government–commissioned climate report paints stark picture of risks facing the public in 2050

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      British Columbians will likely face a "high risk" of a severe wildfire season and seasonal water shortages in the 2050s, according to a consultant's report for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

      In addition, if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed by then, the province will also face high risks from heat waves ocean acidification, glacier mass loss, and long-term water shortages.

      ICF's Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment for British Columbia report runs for more than 400 pages and was quietly released this month.

      It examined 15 risk scenarios—and the conclusions do not necessarily represent the most severe possibilities.

      ICF concludes that there was a medium risk in 2050 of a reduction in ecosystem connectivity, saltwater intrusion, loss of forest resources, increase in invasive species, moderate flooding, severe riverine flooding, severe coastal storm surge, and extreme precipitation and landslides.

      The report points to the possible loss of life in a once-in-500-year flood along the Fraser River if people are caught in fast-moving flodwaters and if there's limited medical or emergency care, as a result of the loss of power or clean water.

      If warnings or evacuation orders weren't issued in a timely manner, the death toll could exceed 100.

      "By 2050, this flood scenario has a 0.51 to 1% annual chance of occurring," ICF states. "The project team used the conservative end of the range for the rating."

      The report says a significant landslide in Hope, triggered by extreme precipitation, could cause two to 10 deaths, especially if it covered major highways.

      A 3.9-metre king tide along the B.C. coast could lead to 10 to 100 fatalities, the report states, and even more deaths if warnings and evacuation orders are not issued in a timely manner.

      It also notes that a severe wildfire season or a heat wave could cause similar losses of lives.

      "This initial assessment could not adequately consider Indigenous perspectives or cultural values without appropriate engagement," the report emphasizes. "A second phase of work is planned to consider Indigenous perspectives on the effects of climate change."

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