UPDATE 1PM: Fire Danger rises to Extreme – Potentially “Catastrophic” dry weather – But There is A Way Forward

UPDATE 1PM Monday:

The BC Wildfire Management Branch just increased our fire danger rating to Extreme.  This isn’t a big surprise even though it wasn’t in their forecast. Their forecast (for “Beaver Creek” station) also says it might go back down to 4/High on Wednesday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it stayed right where it is until we get rain.



Once again, the forecast is easy.  It will be sunny and warm most of the week.  Tuesday might be the exception when it is supposed to cloud over but it will be sunny the rest of the week.

“Off the charts”.  “Catastrophic” potential in Forests.

On Thursday last week I went to the West Island Woodland Advisory Group (WIWAG) meeting held periodically here in Port Alberni and attended by the City, Regional District, Western Forest Products (WFP) and a large number of environmental, industrial and recreational stakeholders.

WFP gave a short update on the conditions in their forest tenure lands which include forest as far south as Carmanah and as far north as Great Central Lake.

The WFP representative did not mince words.  He said their indicators are “off the charts” as far as dryness in the forest for this time of year and if there was a fire started it could lead to “catastrophic” fires in our area not seen since the Taylor river fire that scorched a massive section of the mountains surrounding Taylor Arm and Sproat Lake 50 years ago.

There seems to be no end in sight to our dry weather.image

The forecast to the end of the month, shown above, has no more than 25mm expected.  Hardly enough to make a difference.

Rivers and Lakes low endangering salmon

I continue to hear anecdotal reports that Sproat Lake is at levels not usually seen until late August.  The Stamp River is also extremely low for this time of year.  Tubers are not able to go past the rifle range without walking and the First Nations are only catching a fraction of the sockeye they usually catch.  There is talk of having to transport salmon up the river by truck if the situation worsens.

There can be no doubt that the lack of snowfall on our mountains is a huge part of the unusual dryness in the forest and low water levels.

Please be extra vigilant if you are out in the forest.  I would not light any campfire at all at this point.  And if you are on an ATV, dirt bike or other vehicle that might produce sparks or heat in the back country please carry water with you in case you see a hot spot of any kind.

And don’t think it is just our small region suffering from this.   Reports out today indicate all of Western Canada and indeed much of North America is under threat of drought due to incredibly low snowpacks in the Rockies and elsewhere.

This year, the Rocky Mountain snowpacks, which usually melt slowly, releasing water well into the summer, have had “a dramatic decline.” This past winter, those snowpacks were as low as 25 per cent of normal measurements, and they vanished quickly in the spring.

“All our stations are free of snow now, which is the earliest we’ve seen it,” Dr. Pomeroy said. “Not only was the maximum of snow water available quite low, but the snow melted much earlier – about a month to a month and a half earlier than what we would expect.”

He said the conditions are “eerily like” what he has projected will occur if a global warming of two degrees occurs, which climate-change scenarios consider likely.

“The relatively warm winter and spring in B.C. and Alberta this year has shown … what a future winter will look like,” Dr. Pomeroy said.

Tiny Glimmer of Climate Hope

I came across this graphic today on my twitter feed showing updated CO2 emissions for the worlds top emitters.


It shows that after over a decade of incredible growth fuelled by massive economic expansion, China’s CO2 emissions may have levelled.  You will notice the other 5 major economies are either flat or declining except for India which is slowly growing.

Here is another interesting graph… these are all coming from this post.


This is an information packed chart.  Each pair of bubbles shows emissions in 1990 and 2014 respectively.  The size of the bubbles indicates the annual energy-related CO2 emissions.  The movement of the bubbles along the horizontal indicates the regions per capita emissions and the movement along the vertical is their “intensity” of emissions compared to their GDP.

The good news from that growth is that across the board, industrial intensity has gone down.  That means industry has become more efficient.  However, while per-capita emissions have mostly decreased (Japan has remained the same) in the developed countries,  it has more than doubled in both China and India.

The final solution to our energy, CO2 and climate crisis will inevitably involve per capita and per GDP numbers for the worlds economies converging on one number (with developing countries moving up and developed moving down) and then all regions gradually reducing down to zero.

We are on that path now, but we must move much more quickly along it to have any chance of avoiding climate changes that are even more “catastrophic” than what we are already seeing this year.

Here is one final graph for you.


Notice the red line and dots.  That is the “share of total additions” that renewables are adding to electrical energy in the world.  It is currently just under 50% of all additions right now.  I believe that in order to avoid catastrophic climate change we as a world will very soon (<5 years) have to put a moratorium on the building of all new CO2 emitting sources of electricity generation.  That will mean this graph will go from just under 50% to 100%.

The Developed world will then need to embark on a massive program of reduction of energy use so that our per-capita emissions start to emulate those of China and even India.  How we will do that while maintaining a standard of living we all expect will be the great challenge of our time.

NASA scientists know what it will mean if we continue to do nothing and get to 935ppm CO2 by 2099.  Within the lifetime of my own children. (we are currently at 400ppm)

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Even though they may seem severe or painful now, the faster we make these changes, the better our chances of avoiding catastrophic climate change and massive hardship for (literally) our children and grand-children and generations beyond.

Take care out there folks.  We are in unprecedented times.

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