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Posted: September 13, 2020

Draft fails to take up most important factors in our lifetime

Letter to the Editor

When I read the Columbia Basin Trust’s (CBT) Draft Strategic Plan 2020-2022, I expected to read that there were serious considerations being given to climate change and environmental degradation.  I was shocked to see nothing in the Plan about these matters.

The consequences of climate change and of human damage to the ecosystems in this territory are everywhere around us. Our entire territory – indeed, much of our province – is currently affected by choking smoke from fires hundreds of kilometres away.

The intensity and frequency of these fires is directly consequent to climate change. Nor is this the first summer we’ve witnessed smoke erasing the skies and the mountains. Currently, hundreds of people throughout the East and West Kootenay are on evacuation alert due to active wildfires intensified by climate change heatwaves.

In my rural area adjacent to Cranbrook, water is becoming scarcer. Drought is evident most summers now and isn’t much alleviated in the winter as the snowpack just can’t compensate. The water tables are not what they used to be. Rising temperatures and falling water levels, also caused by climate change, have us on a trajectory to desertification.

Climate change and other environmental degradation have impacted us here in the Kootenays. For example, the mountain caribou are extirpated, primarily because of a lack of contiguous territory sufficient for migration and because of human activity in the “backcountry,” which has led to intensified predation on the caribou. There are many more examples of species at risk and species under pressure. Yet the CBT doesn’t discuss the need to reconsider human activity.

I am deeply concerned about the integrity of ecosystems and on the non-human beings that are part of them. Human activity is causing these transformations to our climate and our ecosystems. The vast majority of scientific opinion is quite settled on this point. The CBT should be facing this weight of scientific opinion and addressing these problems rather more robustly than it is apparently inclined to so.

One the priorities in the draft plan is Ecosystem Restoration, but frankly, that ship has sailed. Instead, CBT and indeed, all communities, should be undertaking to build ecosystem resilience to the wretched consequences of climate change and environmental degradation that are now upon us.

Another priority in the Plan is Support for Business Renewal. Any support for economic development should be analyzed through a climate change and environmental protection priority lens. Without a liveable ecosystem, economic activity is irrelevant to us and to “all living things,” as Ktunaxa phrase it.  The apocalypse in California is our future if we do not change our analysis and our behaviours.

The Columbia Basin Trust Draft Strategic Plan fails to take up the most important factors affecting our communities and our territory in our lifetime. Those who are concerned about this should hit the website and express their views: go to [email protected]

Joyce Green,

Cranbrook


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